Sunday, June 25, 2017

The appeal of Village life

What a difference a day makes.  Friday's trip to Bath really was not very enjoyable simply because Kilim ran abysmally.  Not the end of the world, of course: nobody died, nobody was hurt - and it wasn't even a sign that she will always run that badly, because she should be fitter next time.  But it is depressing having a horse run as badly as she ran.  Compare and contrast, as they say, with our outing to the July Course the following afternoon.  The sun was in the sky, God was in his Heaven, and all was well with the world, largely courtesy of Kryptos running a mighty race on his stable/seasonal debut.  He had been doing his work like a very nice horse, and his bold third place in a decent maiden race suggested that that could be the case.  Very heartening indeed.

So that was our racing week: a slightly disappointing second at Windsor by Hope Is High, a very pleasing third at Newmarket by Kryptos, and two woeful runs (by So Much Water at Windsor and Kilim at Bath).  As is usually the case, things could have been better and could have been worse.  Aside from that, I really enjoyed the television coverage of Royal Ascot.  ITV did a very good job.  The fashion segments were disappointingly unremarkable (mind you, the bar was set impossibly high a few years ago by James Sherwood on the BBC, and even Gok Wan, who was rather engaging on C4's coverage, found him an unfeasibly hard act to follow) and some people were better than others, but overall the show was very good.

Ed Chamberlain seems to be a very good anchorman, finding just the right balance between joviality and seriousness, neither dumbing things down nor making them inaccessibly erudite, neither making the show too basic for the 365-day-a-year addicts nor too baffling for the once-a-year casual viewers.  And that is a very hard balance to achieve.  And some of his side-kicks were superb.  Johnny Murtagh was outstanding, while Jason Weaver is unfailingly good on ITV, just as he is on ATR.  And some of the features were really good: I loved the Mick Channon episodes.  Why go there when it's so good on TV (a question one could ask about most events)?  Why indeed - although there is one part of Ascot which I'd be interested to try one year (although very much doubt whether I ever will).

The part of Ascot which I would love to savour is the newest enclosure, the Village.  I am intrigued by this.  In case you don't know exactly what goes on in the Village, I can tell you (albeit not from first-hand observation).  The Village is situated in the infield, and has Ascot's iconic Grandstand as a backdrop.  It showcases the best of contemporary British summertime, and has a style and tempo of its own.  It is a 'pop-up' summer scene comprising informal boutique dining experiences, innovative bars, and live music throughout the day and into the evening.  The Queen Anne Enclosure dress code applies (not that I know what that is).

A picturesque bandstand surrounded by deck chairs is the centrepiece of the village green, along with two other stages where there is a mix of live brass, jazz and funk throughout the day.  In the evenings, the main stage hosts sets from live bands and DJs (and was headlined on Gold Cup Day by DJ Goldierocks).  From on-the-go stalls to sit-down casual dining, there is a broad food offering.  Cocktails, mocktails and Champagne are served throughout the day including the 2017 Royal Ascot signature cocktail, the Royal Blush.

I doubt I'll ever make it there, but it does sound rather fun.  The more cynical reader might, of course, suspect that I'm not being entirely genuine in my show of enthusiasm, but I am (even if, admittedly, I have been relaying some of the marketing-speak with a face not entirely straight).  I think it really would be rather fun - as long as (a) I could set my habitual allergy to spending money to one side for the day and (b) I didn't have to drive home afterwards.  Realistically, though, I can probably file away my vague plans to visit the Village in the same perennial drawer as my plans to have a runner at the meeting: 'Maybe next year ...'

1 comment:

Roger Vicarage said...

There was a village in the centre of the course at Chantilly for last years Arc - I sense it was rather more sophisticated.I have to say I felt looking at the coverage of Ascot that days 1 and 2 would be the best to attend for ease of getting to see everything.