The Third Leader: Racing in t'north

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The Independent Online

Ev'ry duke and earl and peer is here. Ev'ryone who should be here is here. What a smashing, positively dashing spectacle: the Ascot op'ning day. Thank you, Mr Lerner; and thank you, too, Mr Beaton, for the indelibly, stylishly monochromely set you conjured up for My Fair Lady's Ascot Gavotte. But what would you have made of Ascot in York? Well, for starters, not evr'yone who should be there is there. Why? Well, again, it is difficult to conceive of a better place than Ascot to catch the full range of English social nuances, but, in York, they've managed it brilliantly, simply by introducing the one major missing tension, that between North and South.

Ev'ry duke and earl and peer is here. Ev'ryone who should be here is here. What a smashing, positively dashing spectacle: the Ascot op'ning day. Thank you, Mr Lerner; and thank you, too, Mr Beaton, for the indelibly, stylishly monochromely set you conjured up for My Fair Lady's Ascot Gavotte. But what would you have made of Ascot in York? Well, for starters, not evr'yone who should be there is there. Why? Well, again, it is difficult to conceive of a better place than Ascot to catch the full range of English social nuances, but, in York, they've managed it brilliantly, simply by introducing the one major missing tension, that between North and South.

Indeed, ever since it was announced that York would take over while Ascot was being rebuilt, sorry, suffering an element of refurbishment, the air has been full of the clamour of clashing stereotypes. Soft Southerners wouldn't travel north, our Northern toffs are posher than your toffs, we didn't want any of those estuarian arrivistes and their bleach-blingy wives anyway, it's good enough for the Queen, where is York, exactly, and they've hiked all the hotel prices, it is Yorkshire, after all, tha knows, I told you it would rain, sorry, you can't come in here, what does she think she looks like?

Absolutely fabulous. The truth of it? Please. This is so much more fun. Do keep moving, your majesty. If I might make a suggestion, how about, for the next few years, Haydock Park, Wolverhampton, Great Yarmouth and Musselburgh; or, alternatively, Redcar, Thirsk, Beverley, Ripon and Pontefract?

Sorry? The racing? Mr Lerner, customarily acute, contained it within an ellipsis...

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