The day I broke royal pro­to­col

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport -

The King Ge­orge VI and Queen El­iz­a­beth Stakes has al­ways been my mid­sum­mer high­light. Pretty well ev­ery run­ning of it has a re­lated mem­ory.

One of my most joy­ous years was 1983. Time Char­ter. That sum­mer, Henry Candy, her trainer, and I, had been open­ing the bat­ting for the Lam­bourn cricket team.

Match af­ter match, we took a bat­ter­ing with the new ball and made no runs. Un­til fi­nally we came across a team even more in­ept than us. Candy and I were fill­ing our boots, stroking their open­ing bowlers around like Sir Len Hut­ton.

Be­tween overs, Henry mut­tered, “We’re like pigs in clover, Brooks … don’t screw it up”. I ran him out two balls later.

So, I was thrilled when Time

Char­ter won and Henry had some­thing to smile about. So happy, in fact, that I ended up shar­ing my joy with the Queen. I was at­tend­ing a party at Wind­sor Cas­tle af­ter the race and, em­bold­ened by a few scoops, de­cided I would shoot the breeze about Henry with Her Majesty.

“Ab­so­lutely top man,” I as­sured her. “And a much bet­ter open­ing bats­man than his fig­ures would sug­gest … although he needs to work on his run­ning be­tween the wick­ets.”

Some aide stand­ing next to her looked like his eye­brows were try­ing to do a lap around his ears – ap­par­ently you are not meant to down­load on Ma’am un­less she ini­ti­ates a con­ver­sa­tion.

I ran into her 3½ decades later at her own cricket match, and re­minded her, af­ter I had been for­mally in­tro­duced, that we had met be­fore and chewed the cud about Time Char­ter and Henry Candy’s crick­et­ing prow­ess.

But I have a feel­ing she had not re­mem­bered my chat with her. Per­haps that is a good thing?

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