Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 21 October 2014

Billy on the Box: It’s father’s day but all hail Queen Katherine of Derby

Singer Katherine Jenkins sang for the Queen at the Epsom Derby as part of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations
Katherine Jenkins
Katherine Jenkins

It was a weekend for families, especially noble ones, and while the celebrations carried on unabated for one group, for another it was to end in tears.

The Windsors had a great time, but for the Baldings it wasn’t so good, the Beeb’s proceedings for the Derby dominated by one story — Clare’s wee brother Andrew had a horse in the big race.

However, Bonfire’s hopes went up in smoke and given the regal nature of the past few days it was fitting that a majestic display by Camelot won the day.

And while the Duke of Edinburgh missed out on some of the Jubilee celebrations, it was nice of so many of those in attendance at Epsom to give him a hand out with saying things that you shouldn’t really be saying anymore.

Little Willie (that may be one of them) Carson, once he had been ordered back onto his non-royal box by Clare in a classic moment, proceeded to talk about fillies being interfered with and you could feel the tension rise.

“In the old days, you had to go through a gypsy encampment which had ponies tethered, ponies would be neighing at big, strong colts, kids playing football, riding bicycles” waffled on Willie as Clare desperately interrupted before he mentioned lucky heather, tarmacking drives or big sparkly dresses.

There was only room for one sparkly dress and it was filled (was it ever) by her royal loveliness, the real princess of Wales, Katherine of Jenkins, who belted out the National Anthem with gusto.

Clare, by now getting fed up with talking about her family and listening to Willie’s non-PC chat, went walkabout and she fell in with an eccentric old soul in Brian Haggas who talked lovingly about his horse, Beaten Up, or ‘Frog’ as he referred to it.

“Frog? Why did you call her Frog?,” asked Clare hoping for a heart-warming story but how she hopped around as a foal, only to be met with: “Well, umm, she’s French bred.” Baguette would surely have been a more appropriate name?

Back to family affairs and we were off the Balding maisonette in the country, some nice moments and Clare revealing that the Queen had once given her a pony as a present. Off screen, you could hear John Parrott, going ‘yeah, well Prince Phillip gave me a Riley two-piece cue, so there!”

But the British pomp and ceremony couldn’t last, with the O’Briens becoming the latest Irish family to top the charts as Camelot’s win made Aiden and Joseph the first father and son combination to win the Derby, although is it me or does the young lad remind you of Rodney Trotter?

And from the lush green pastures of Epsom it was then off to the choppy brown waters of the Thames on Sunday as Clare and just about everyone else who has ever worked for the BBC, jumped on board a vessel to take part in a special flotilla.

“You hear little voices, little high-pitched voices screaming as you pass by,” she told us, but it later turned out that it was Willie who had been given a nasty kick in the rowlocks by an errant filly.

A similar kicking was handed out in Amsterdam, but it was nice to see Northern Ireland marking the Jubilee with a 6-0 result in Holland.

Although the way it started it was looking very much like they were out to commemorate another important milestone, but a 169-0 scoreline would have led to far too many awkward questions.

Still, it was nice to hear Michael McNamee finally get his chance to commentate on the telly although he clearly thought Northern Ireland were at home as he welcomed us to a ‘lurid orange frenzy’.

There were quite enough Windsors though over the weekend to do us all for another 60 years.

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