Dressing up to go racing: could anything BE more quintessentially English? From points to points with my late grandparents, both notable riders, to the English flat season via the glories of Cheltenham, my heart always beats a little faster on a racecourse and, when I get to dress up too, I couldn’t be happier.
We’ve had the most terrible weather this summer – although, to be frank, it’s always bloody awful for parts of June, owing to some weather pattern or other, but this June is on record for the wettest ever, as we slosh through puddles daily, raindrops hanging from our elegant noses.
It is, as I like to say, nice weather for ducks.
So this year I decided to re-visit the beautiful navy blue silk radzmir coat dress made to measure for me back in 2014 by my dear friend, the designer Suzannah. Last time I wore it with orange patent LK Bennett heels, a Moschino bag, and an Edwina Ibbotson hat which was trimmed to match the shoes. (Pics here.)
This time around I decided to make the palest pink and grey my accent colours, mainly because I found this glorious 60s-inspired hat by Rachel Trevor Morgan in Suzannah’s jewel box of a boutique in London.
I couldn’t resist pairing it with my pink cats eye Sunday Somewhere sunglasses.
That felt like enough pink, so I borrowed a dove grey bag from Smythson, added some pearl earrings from Thomas Sabo, swiped on my MAC Vegas Volt lipstick, and dug out my favourite and most comfortable Lucy Choi grey lizard heels.
I love the whole build up to Royal Ascot, not just the choosing of the outfit, but the getting there too. Waterloo station becomes a sea of top hats, pretty frocks and outrageous titfers. (Tit fer tat – hat – Cockney rhyming slang at its best).
I once got stuck for two hours three miles outside Ascot on my way to do a live broadcast from the races for BBC radio, so now I always take the train. (Top tip – it’s worth buying a First Class ticket, as there’s more room, RUN for a seat once the platform is announced, making sure you are standing to the right of the announcement board as it pretty much always goes from the same platform, and never get on an Ascot train anywhere apart from Waterloo, as it becomes unbearably sardine-d by Clapham Junction.)
It’s a good ten minute uphill walk from the station to the racecourse, so old hands always wear flats for the journey, and carry their heels in a shoe bag. It is hell on the feet otherwise.
My first port of call, after being interviewed by Martha for Ascot TV, is always to find my friend John, who can be reliably found in the Bollinger tent in the Royal Enclosure. (Because he is their PR.)
Then it’s off to make some bets at the bookies on the rail. (I prefer to know my odds, the Tote doesn’t give them.)
And then, after much time spent studying the race card, and placing my bets, it’s time to head to our box for lunch and to watch the races.
Sadly I lost all my bets this year.
Above: Nazer and Kara in our box, and below, Carolyn Asome and milliner Rachel Trevor Morgan, who made the hats of both Carolyn and myself.
Races done, it was time to head to a different kind of horse – ponies, in fact. I had been invited by sponsors IWC Schaffhausen to watch the Laureus King Power Polo Cup at Ham Polo Club, handily on the way home from Ascot.
Dress: Princess Dress Coat by Suzannah
Hat: Rachel Trevor Morgan in association with Suzannah
Shoes: Lucy Choi. (There are some amazing reductions on The Outnet here.)
Clutch: Smythson Grosvenor Mini Crossbody in Dove Grey
Pink sunglasses: Laura by Sunday Somewhere
Earrings: Pearls by Thomas Sabo
With special thanks to Ascot Racecourse for hosting Sasha and all of the above for helping with her Ladies Day outfit, and to IWC Schaffhausen for hosting her at the Laureus Polo.