All morning I think of the Normandy landings, as the voices of the old soldiers come on the radio, filled with humanity and grace. They are reticent and stoical. There is a sense that, even after seventy years, this is a hard thing for them to speak of. Theirs was a heroism that is impossible to put into words, and the debt they are owed can never be repaid.
Then the present world reasserts itself. The sun shines; the mare gleams and works beautifully, filling me with admiration and love. The Younger Brother is coming, all the way from Bali, where he lives. I see my sister, cycling along the side of the burn, smiling in the brightness. My mother tells an extraordinary story at breakfast about a jockey who kept a badger in the basement of the Ritz. We all ponder this for a moment. There are more questions than answers.
I get my work done at warp speed and give myself the afternoon at Epsom. My heart starts beating as I think of the beautiful, dancing fillies who will shine in The Oaks. Today, one of them will be crowned queen. I hope it is the gleaming, flying girl that is Marvellous. The race is quite soon after her mighty victory in Ireland, and she has never been tried over this distance, and the money is coming for the Dermot Weld filly. But I keep the faith. I would love the bold, bonny Madame Chiang to run her race, and she is my each-way shout. She is honest and taking and may not be quite the highest of the high class, but she will give her best.
Mostly, I shall watch them for the brilliance and the beauty. This is a race that is not for money, but for love.
It is not just for love of the dazzling thoroughbreds. It is because this year the race is run in the name of Sir Henry Cecil, whose loss is still keenly felt. He had a way with fillies, understanding them, bringing out their best. It was an elegant thing for Epsom to do, and at four o’clock this afternoon, everyone who loves racing will remember that great gentleman.