It is a hot day at Sandown races.
I watch as they are paraded around the ring. For a moment I decide that I fancy number one, then number four catches my eye and I am torn. Then I decide that the ‘best-dressed lady competition’ is really not worth caring about one way or another, although the horror is drawing me in with the siren call of a road accident.
I don’t know why sporting venues feel that they have to do this sort of thing. I suspect it is because they don’t have the confidence that the sport itself is interesting enough, so they add cheerleaders, dancing children or ‘best dressed lady’ competitions. There are thousands and thousands of people here to see the horses racing. It would be like the managers of the Louvre hiring Tom O’Connor to stand beside the Mona Lisa telling jokes.
“And we have the gorgeous Louise Owen, wife of Michael, here to be our judge,” announces the announcer. “Louise – you’re looking gorgeous today.”
A sea of uninterested faces gaze down from the balcony’s shade aside except, interestingly, an elderly man beside me who appears to be concentrating very, very hard on looking at specific bits of Louise Owen through his binoculars.
“Now – contestant one. You’re looking gorgeous! Where is your hat from?”
The hat is from Marks and Spencer, contestant one reports, in a voice that could be used for deforestation.
“Was that in Reading? It’s gorgeous.”
The hat was bought in Manchester, a fact that causes much amazement. “So you’re from READING, you bought your hat in MANCHESTER and you’re here at SANDOWN! How does that work, then?” he hoots in bafflement that a woman should, at one reckless point in her early twenties, leave the confines of her own house.
“Well it’s gorgeous! Now – our second contestant. Isn’t she gorgeous everybody! Louise – isn’t she gorgeous!” enthuses the Announcer, forgetting to add the required “knowing you, Louise Owen – aha.”
Contestant two is probably gorgeous, but I could never be interested in a woman who enters herself for best-dressed lady competitions. Her dress is from somewhere, her hat is from somewhere else. Contestants three, four and five are also described as such, although in my opinion contestant four should be disqualified as she entered a best-dressed lady competition at a racecourse the previous week, and is thus probably researching a book.
Louise Owen picks a winner. The levels of excitement fail to even approach a whelm. I head off to the bookies. Everybody has laughed at me, because I have a hot each-way tip from a bloke with tattoos who was at bowls. The horse romps in second and they are not laughing any more, oh no.
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