A day at the races from a tenner? If you like a flutter and want a fabulous day out, then it’s good news as the Doncaster Racecourse’s Cazoo St Leger Festival starts next week Wednesday (September 7) with tickets from just £10 and under 18s free in the family enclosure.
VIVA went last year and loved it. It’s the perfect excuse to get dressed up, enjoy the thrill of flat racing and a cheeky drink or two. It’s easy to get to and we bet you’ll have a wonderful time!
This year we’ve been speaking to top racing stylist Sarah Kate Byrne who is renowned for putting the glam into racing world, styling for key horse-racing events such as Royal Ascot as well as formal wear and red carpet looks, working with celebs such as Georgia Toffolo, Vogue Williams, Francesca Cumani and Alex Hammond.
She told us: “One of my high profile clients, Francesca Cumani of ITV Racing is regularly cited as a style icon off the back of the looks I create for her”.
This year, she’s taking fashion & style inspo from the royal family, who know a thing or two about racing and how to look good too. Here are her style tips:
The Queen Mother & King George VI at Doncaster races 1948. @Alamy.
It’s the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Year, so what better time to channel Regal vibes, dress like a royal and do justice to the history and prestige of the UK’s most famous race meets. Race meetings such as the Cazoo St. Leger Festival lend themselves perfectly to high fashion and the most elegant and formal of attire. The Queen herself owned a winner – Dunfermline with Willie Carson on board – who in 1977 won two of the five British Classic Races – Epsom Oaks and the St. Leger Stakes. Even more poignantly 1977 was the year of Queen Elizabeth II’s Silver Jubilee.
The Royal family, particularly the female members, have been style icons and trendsetters for generations. What each of these glamourous women wore and wear still influences the fashion choices of Britain and is the perfect reference point from which to start putting together a winning contemporary look.
King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, (later the Queen Mother) visited Doncaster race course in 1948 with the Queen wearing an elegant veiled hat and he a bowler hat. These days the bowler hat has been replaced by panama hats and trilbys for the chaps while a modern version of the Queen Mothers side percher bonnet with delicate veiling would make for a very Royal appearance.
So with a whole summer of excitement ahead and the inevitable build up as the Flat horseracing season unfolds, you have plenty of time to look to royal style at the races for inspiration ahead of this years meeting – with a £1,000 cash prize on offer for the winner of the Ladies Day Style Awards, now is the time to turn up the heat on the fashion stakes!
Downsize the hat
Royal style: The top 20 looks worn by the Queen. @Shutterstock.
Her majesty’s choice of headwear is quite deliberate and there’s a lot to be said for adopting her stance. According to one of the Queen’s favourite milliners, Rachel Trevor-Morgan “The Queen doesn’t want to have hat brims that are too big as she’s got to get in and out of cars and she wants people to see her”.
So whether you arrive to this years meeting by plane, train or automobile make sure your hat choice makes you stand out from the crowd to be seen by the all -important judges, but don’t go mad with flambouyant oversized designs!
Try a headband
Princess Beatrice. @Alamy.
When Queen Elizabeth II attended Doncaster in 1955 she sported a very contemporary headband that would look as good today as it did then.
Recently both the Duchess of Cambridge and Princess Beatrice have both showcased an array of elegant headbands and headpieces that move away from traditional millinery.
These pieces are young, fresh and modern and their styles makes them so versatile for re-wearing for weddings and other race-days so are a solid wardrobe investment.
Have a wet weather back up
Duchess of Cambridge at the races. @Alamy.
Both The Queen and the Duchess of Cambridge clearly adhere to the same rule as I do when settling on their look for the day – check the weather!
Looking through the archives both women have donned summery confections and floaty frocks as much as they have buttoned up in warmer wool weights and coats.
Often the Queen was seen dressed for chillier temperatures as she walks past crowds of spectators after visiting her horse ‘High Velt’ in the Parade Ring before the start of the St Leger Festival, September 13th 1956.
The famous British weather can be hit or miss come September so do have a back-up colder weather option or elegant umbrella in reserve.
Go for a bold colour
The Queen at the races. @Alamy.
Another factor in the Queen’s choice of outfit is worth noting. As her milliner has said: “The Queen does tend to like a lot of bright colours because she’s seen and she stands out.”
A block colour in a wonderful, bright jewel or pastel tone is such a great starting point when planning an outfit. Royals often opt for blue! It makes choosing the perfect accessories easier as solid colours tend to be more versatile.
Look no further than these ensembles worn by the Queen, the Duchess of Cambridge and Zara Tindall, perfect examples of accessories that compliment the main dress.
Add a brooch
Top racing stylist Sarah Kate Burn wears a brooch at the races. @SarahkateByrne.
And finally, one of the favourite final flourishes (and one the Queen is known to often add to her outfits) is a thoughtful brooch. For us mere mortals, we might not have a diamond cluster to pin to our lapel but a stunning piece of vintage costume jewellery will add a little sparkle to your look not to mention upping your sustainable fashion credentials! You can even craft a special brooch yourself with many kits now available to buy online, ensuring you can create your own little bit of Royal flair.
Why not try cherry picking different style elements and dress the decades of The Queen’s reign? Vintage and borrowed clothing can be a wonderful way to achieve a fresh and modern look, if you pair them up to compliment each other!
So with a whole summer of excitement ahead and the inevitable build up as the Classics season unfolds, you have plenty of time to be inspired on how to ensure your day at Donny is glamour, fashion and fun filled. But above all else, the main aim is to enjoy your day at the races and win or lose, stay elegant and carry on smiling.
About Yorkshire's Classic Horse Racing Experience
The Cazoo St Leger Festival is once again set to be one of the highlights of the British flat racing calendar and the region’s social event of the year. The Cazoo St Leger Festival welcomes visitors in the first week of September, offering racegoers and jubilant crowds the chance to experience a little piece of horse racing history each year.
The Cazoo St Leger Festival offers an extensive array of enclosures and packages to offer an experience which can be tailored to each racegoer’s needs – a day out not to be missed!
An intoxicating mix of superb horse racing and sparkling hospitality, the Cazoo St Leger Festival draws in tens of thousands of guests each year, at what is one of Britain’s most popular racecourses.
Expect to see some famous faces, fantastic hats and plenty of happy customers at the Cazoo St Leger Festival. With everything from a sumptuous seven course taster menu in the VIP Sky Garden, to alcohol free zones in our Family Enclosure, the Cazoo St Leger Festival really is an event for everyone!
Family Enclosure: Tickets starting from £10 for entry (under 18s go free)