Berserk in the Berkshire | A Missing Glass Carriage | Courses for Horses | The Tori Party
The Season is in full swing. Tuesday morning of Summer Solstice week: a chauffeur driven Merc screeches to a halt outside The House of Lavender’s Blue. Closing one’s own car door is so last century. And really, with train strikes all too common these days a uniformed driver is a necessity not a luxury. After gliding past Wentworth Estate, sailing by Guards Polo Club then gaping at the largest white portico ever facing a roundabout somewhere in Sunningdale, noon Champagne is on ice for us at the Royal Berkshire Hotel. Bling to king.
A glass carriage suite of Rollers soon pulls up beside the lawn to whisk us all – a highly fashionable set is emerging – off to the Royal Enclosure of Royal Ascot. Today is The Queen Anne Stakes, the opening contest of the five day meeting. Three maids stand to attention welcoming us into our double penthouse private box. Ding-a-ling. You can get the staff these days! Ollie Dabbous and other Michelin star studded chefs are going the distance at this year’s meeting. A hot and warm and cold buffet begins, platefuls of luxury signifiers:
- Lavazza coffee
- Beetroot and Beefeater Gin cured salmon, tonic jelly
- Goat’s cheese, red onion and squash tart
- Ginger and soy roasted salmon, pineapple relish
- Aubergine and courgette involtini, basil pesto
- Hot smoked trout, pickled celeriac, saffron potato, fennel
- Warm Jersey Royal potatoes
- Grilled squash, caramelised onion, broccoli
- Tomato tartare, marinated Tomberries and baby mozzarella
- Shredded summer salad, balsamic dressing
- Traditional trifle, lemon posset, Cassis torte, chocolate Mogador, English strawberries, pouring cream
- Duttamor, Winslade, Trufflyn and Blue Monday cheeses, apricot and ginger jelly, selection of artisan biscuits
- Lavazza coffee and Charbonnel + Walker petit fours served in miniature top hats
The clock strikes two: it’s time for the Royal Procession. The Royal Landaus led by four Windsor Greys commence their stately journey along the celebrated Straight Mile. Since 1825, this procession has signalled the start of the Royal Meeting. The Coldstream Guards play the National Anthem. We stand to attention on our double penthouse private box terrace, joyously waving our Union Jacks.
Half an hour later, the First Race is off. With a total race value of £600,000 The Queen Anne Stakes naturally attracts the best milers in Europe and beyond. Meanwhile, we’re given free rein in our double penthouse private box. By mid afternoon, the party is in full throttle. The terrace is now an impromptu catwalk for models and influencers and influential models jockeying for position, snapping, being snapped and snapping being snapped. A blazing turn of foot isn’t confined to the racecourse below. We’re all winners: check out thoroughbred Lady Tori Nash mid strut; no dodgepots here! The wealth of millinery and feast of floristry has gone to everyone’s heads. Literally. That, plus the haze of topped up coupes and flutes and tulips. Afternoon tea is served:
- Fortnum + Mason tea infusions
- Smoked salmon, lemon crème fraîche, egg and chive, cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches
- Buttermilk scones, Highgrove preserve and Cornish clotted cream
- Chocolate wagon wheel, mixed berry tart, pistachio and rose financier, honey and lemon Madeleine, red velvet cake
Lord Glitters wins The Queen Anne Stakes in a thrilling finish! Did we mention we’re watching the race from a double penthouse private box? It’s so hard to prise ourselves away from this party in the sky but really we should hit our stride. Our favourite soprano Eves fills the big screens, belting out an aria. “What feathers in our hats!” Eves later laughs. Frankie Dettori, the Royal Meeting’s most successful current jockey, rides by. It would be rude to keep Ben our chauffeur waiting but it would be even ruder not to meet our future queen. Here she comes, winning the style race hands down, real pedigree, what a beauty, her eyes sparkling under a flying saucer hat. Such grace! Such poise! Such fragrance! Her majestic Royal Highness, Catherine the Great. It’s a photo finish followed by a bloody sunset over The House of Lavender’s Blue.