Thursday, 30 May 2013

#AscotAsks Sasha Wilkins, Fashion Tips And Trends For #RoyalAscot

Sasha Wilkins in New York by Jackie Dixon

1. What fashion advice would you give to men going to Royal Ascot?
I’ve never met any man who doesn’t look extremely good in a well cut suit. Although the Silver Ring doesn’t have a precise dress code, those who look best are always those who make an effort. For those in the Royal Enclosure who are hiring a morning suit, do make sure you try it on beforehand: badly fitting coats ruin the look!

2. How did you get into fashion and blogging?
I started out at British Conde Nast, the home of Vogue, as second assistant to the editorial director (I make a very good cup of tea). When I moved to Manhattan in 2007 I started a daily online diary, which evolved into my now full time job of running LibertyLondonGirl

3. How do I make my outfit stand out from the crowd this year?
Colour! Black is definitely to be avoided. I covered Ascot fashion for the BBC for four years and the people who always looked and photographed best wore colours like bright pink, yellow and orange. If you don’t like brights on your body, go for neon coloured shoes or bags. And, of course, a great hat!

4. Which style of hat do you prefer?
I’ll be lucky enough to be in the Royal Enclosure this year, which means my hat base has to be bigger than 6cm, so I've ordered a quite a large navy blue circle with flowers underneath, that perches on the front of my head, from milliner Edwina Ibbotson. Think satellite dish!

I do like a spotted net veil too, given half a chance. New online hat rental service The Hat Club has some really good Ascot options this year.

5. What should I take as outerwear if the weather is unpredictable?
A brolly is your best bet. It’s rarely that cold at Ascot even if it is pelting down. I take a fine cashmere shawl that can fold up into nothing, and a stylish cream pagoda umbrella. Why ruin your look with a folding black umbrella!

6. What are the key colours for this season?
I always say choose what suits you: yellow is key this season, but it’s a tricky colour if you are milk bottle pale like me. Better to be stylish than fashionable.

7. Are flats or heels best for a day at the races?
I’m a fashion editor: I’m always going to say heels! But, please, NEVER platform stripper heels. Nothing looks worse than girls who can’t walk in their shoes. If you can’t face a 4” stiletto like me, then there are lots of mid height heels around this season, and I've been known to take a pair of those clever tiny folding ballet flats in my bag for the walk to and from the station – which is a good ten minutes, and impossible in anything higher than 3”.

8. If you’re on a tight budget, how do you ensure you still look great?
Immaculate grooming: lovely clean shiny hair, painted nails and toes, and a bright lipstick – red for brunettes, orange for blondes, either if you have darker skin. And do wear a hat: they aren't all expensive, try renting or check out Stephen Jones’ wonderful new collection of hats for Designers at  Debenhams

9. Finally, what are you most looking forward to at Royal Ascot 2013?
The designer Suzannah has made me the most beautiful navy silk prom dress to wear on Ladies Day, and I cannot wait to wear it. I would also like to not lose any money with the bookies!

To find out more about Sasha Wilkins, visit her interesting blog LibertyLondonGirl.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

#AscotAsks Martha Ward, Key Fashions And Trends For #RoyalAscot

1. Have you got any advice for what colours and patterns are in season this year?
We go through multiple shades each season, but right now it’s all about pinks & reds. And there’s always a place for neutral shades. Print wise - florals of all varieties are big this season, as is snake print.

2. What do you advise this year, flats or heels? And if you can’t wear one of these?
Rather brilliantly it’s all about the flat this season. And kitten heels are all the rage too. Hooray for the ladies!

3. If you’re on a tight budget, can you suggest how to look fabulous?
The high street in the UK is so completely brilliant that dressing on a budget is really no difficulty. Some of my favourite dresses are from H&M and Zara and people still exclaim surprise. My advice is to steer clear of fabrics that look synthetic (i.e. shiny), and too tight or too short never helps, so try and go more classic in style; and to accessorize well - necklaces etc - as that often makes something appear more high end.

4. What size of bag do you suggest for a day at the races?
Although a clutch might be the natural suggestion, the reality is that you need your hands for drinks, bets, and cheering at the finishing line, so I always encourage a ‘hands free’ bag -  i.e. one that has a long-ish strap so that it can sit on your shoulder, or across your body. And not too large or it overtakes the outfit.

5. Is it better to stick with seasonal trends or stand out from the crowd?
Sometimes seasonal trends will MAKE you stand out from the crowd! So don’t be too steered by what’s hot and what’s not. Be comfortable, and if it happens that you are partial to a floral or to red, and that’s the hottest thing right now, then so be it.

6. Can you suggest what to wear to look sophisticated when you are expecting?  
I think empire cut for a bump is a very elegant look. And if it’s a normal dress then you can create the empire line effect by belting loosely just above the bump.

7. How did you get into the Fashion world?

Kind of accidentally actually. I was working at Conde Nast, as magazines was always where my interest lay, and a job came up at Tatler, so I applied for it (with the lovely Natalie Massanet and Kate Reardon) and was offered it, and it was like a duck to water!

8. We all know what the British summer is like, what’s the best way to cover up from the elements in style?
I love a longer sleeve on a dress, so I’d go for that option as there are never any guarantees on weather.  Then you don’t have to worry about outerwear. Or a long line coat over a dress is a very elegant look.  I personally prefer that to a short jacket.  Unless it’s a skirt and top, then a jacket is preferable. Rules rules! Actually, there are no real rules in my book.

9. What are your thoughts on his and hers matching outfits? 
It reminds me of Posh&Becks circa 2000, so I’m veto-ing that look I’m afraid.

10. Finally, what are you most looking forward to at Royal Ascot 2013?
Seeing the lovely Royal Ascot team first & foremost! And pulling out my prettiest outfits to wear, as it’s one of the few occasions when you actually can (and must) do so. I love being a Lady on Ladies Day! Make the most of the dress code I say.

To find out more about Vogue TV's Martha Ward visit her website or to book Royal Ascot tickets visit

Friday, 10 May 2013

Some Fast Young Ladies Kick Today’s Action Off | Friday 10th May 2013

Some fast young ladies kick today’s action off at a pace with two-year-old fillies battling it over 5f in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Maiden Fillies´ Stakes at 5.30pm.

There are a number having their racecourse debuts and the market is going with Oriel from the Richard Hannon yard, which provides an amazing four runners in the field.

Likely to be sent off race favourite, the press vibes ahead of today have been strong for the Highclere Thoroughbred-owned filly, who also holds plenty of big race entries this summer, and is the selection of the stable jockey Richard Hughes.

Hannon’s record with his two-year-olds at Ascot is second to none so don’t put it past the yard to collect the first three places.

Another Winner For The Queen?

We go from one extreme to another in the second with older horses slugging it out over 2m in the Two Circles Handicap (6.00).

The Queen’s staying filly Estimate won at our first Flat meeting of the season and Sign Manual has every chance of giving the monarch a second winner at Ascot this season.  The four-year-old by Motivator won at Newbury last time out, just getting up in the final yards to beat the good yardstick Lieutenant Miller, with Tappanappa in third, Cotton King in fourth and Gabrial’s Star in fifth.  There seems to be no reason why any of these beaten horses would reverse places today.

Sign Manual has gone up 8lb in the handicap for that effort, but looks an improving type now he is running over this longer trip. Homeric will be looking to give Highclere Thoroughbreds a quick double, and is trying this sort of trip for the first time though he is not bred to be suited by it.

Right at the bottom of the handicap, Andrew Balding looks to have found a good opportunity for Silver Samba. The filly by Dalakhani has not won since August last year, but that was the last time she ran over 2m and she is only 4lb above her winning mark then.

Drink a Toast To The Town

Some well-bred three-year-old fillies from some big-name owners contest the Federation Of Bloodstock Agents Maiden Fillies´ Stakes over 1m2f (6.30) and it looks wide open on paper.

A peak at the fillies in the paddock will give some indication as to the most forward, but of those who have run Sharqawiyah finished third last time out, while, in April, Toast of The Town finished seventh and Bohemain Dance eighth behind Banoffee, who won the Listed Chester Oaks and is being supplemented for the Epsom Oaks.

A Democratic Choice

Race fitness could be key to the 6f Royal Ascot Racing Club 15th Birthday Celebration Handicap (7.00) and last season’s progressive handicapper Nassau Storm might just be in need of a sharpener over this spring trip on his first start of the season.

Yeeoow was just touched off for fourth over this trip at Doncaster in April, but Democretes is the choice. He was slightly hampered in running at when second at Goodwood last time over 7f and this stiff 6f should really suit. Crew Cut wears blinkers for the first time and has attracted the services of top jock Jamie Spencer.

Regal Dan Looks Well in at the Weights

Just a head divided Professor and Pay Freeze in a nursery at Newbury last September off level weights before Regal Dan finished a length and a quarter ahead of Professor in April at Newbury when receiving 13lb from the Hannon horse. Regal Dan still has a 7lb sway at the weights and is selected to take advantage in the 7f Ascot Racecourse Handicap (7.40).

Hughie Morrison has a high opinion of Secret Talent and with his team in good form it will pay to take notice of the prices at the bookmakers.

Early Money for Aljmany

Although there are nine meetings in Britian and Ireland today, the springer in the early morning markets was the Luca Cumani-trained Ajmany in our last, the Race, Rattle ´N´ Roll Handicap (8.15).

The son of Kheleyf carries top weight, but sports first-time blinkers and was backed into 3-1, having been put in at 10-1 early doors. Keep an eye on the price and if the money keeps on coming, it’s probably wise not to buck the trend.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

#AscotAsks Marco Botti, Key Runners and Riders for #RoyalAscot

1. How do you spot a good horse from when it is very young and what would you advise to watch in a horse maturing through its racing career?
I tend to look at confirmation of the horse, looking at the horse as a whole picture also helps. Good pedigree, good confirmation and good attitude all help. Having an excellent attitude becomes more important later in the career, as they need to keep the love of racing.

2. Do you have a favourite distance that you most like to train your horses for and why?
No, a winner at any distance is great!

3. Is Frankel the greatest horse you've seen and do you ever think we will see one like him again?
There is no doubt he has been the greatest racehorse that I have seen in my lifetime, as to if there will be another Frankel – we can only hope, and I would hope even more that he or she would come out of my yard.

4. If you had a choice would you rather a place in all the classics or a win in just one in the season?
Just one classic would be FANTASTIC!

5. What is your best prospect for a Group 1 victory this year?
For a group one victory this year, I would have to say on Saturday’s performance, Dandino. We have some lovely “potentials” in the yard.

6. Is Planteur the best horse you have trained, or has there been one that’s better?
Excelebration, Planteur and Gitano Hernando would all be in the same “superstar” league.

7. What or who inspires you?
Henry Cecil, he is an amazing trainer who has a great eye for talent. Espressos also help me find inspiration – we drink copious amounts in the office!

8. What horse/s are you most excited about watching this season?
Dawn Approach - He was real class and looked fantastic at Newmarket, when winning so impressively in this years Guineas.

9. How did you get into a career as a racehorse trainer?
I have been around racing and racehorses all my life, my father, Alduino Botti is champion trainer in my native Italy. I worked for my father and was also Champion Amateur Jockey in Italy before moving to Britain, where I had spells with Luca Cumani, Ed Dunlop and Godolphin.

10. Finally, what are you most looking forward to at Royal Ascot 2013?
We will hopefully have a good few runners at Royal Ascot this year; I would like to think that this year we will have our strongest team for Royal Ascot. If we had a winner, that would be the real icing on the cake. There is a great buzz around Prestige Place Stables in the run up to Royal Ascot week and it is great to be represented at the Royal Meeting.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

#AscotAsks Piers Attkinson, Millinery Trends for #RoyalAscot

1. What are the key trends and colours for this season?
In my collection the trends are ‘Hollywood Glamour’ and the colours are black, silver and dusty pink.

However in fashion today there is a sense of ‘anything goes’ so you have to follow your own instincts as far as what suits your own particular shape, age, colour and so on, but the fun thing about Ascot is working your own, individual style into the Ascot dress code. But if you want my personal advice I think that the trend for digital print is a great one to follow and it gives you lots of exciting elements to match to your hat, bag, shoes, binoculars, etc.

And remember; the neck is a very beautiful part of a woman so please pull your hair up and wear your hat into this! You will look amazing!

2. Can you suggest a way to look amazing with a limited budget?
One lovely trend is to see designer labels at reasonable prices in collaboration with the high-street – so that is one obvious way.

Another trick is to jazz up an old favourite with a new pair of shoes or (and here comes the plug) a HAT! But the most important way to look amazing is to feel confident about yourself, walk well, stand up straight and hold your head up!

3. What trends are you expecting to see at Royal Ascot this year?
I’d like to see more wide brims on the hats – and less of the ‘saucer’ shape. Think ‘My Fair Lady’!! But I expect to see a lot of colour as this is an area where confidence is growing.

4. How do I keep my hat in place and curtsey at the same time?
Great Question! You should have an elastic that goes round the back of your head on the smaller hats that sit on top of your head, the bigger ones shouldn't fall off if they fit properly, but you can always add in a small comb or sew in tiny loops to the inside of the hat and use hairgrips – but my honest suggestion is to practice your curtsey as the body should dip but the ladies head only bows forward a tiny bit while the back stays upright! (imagine you are wearing a corset).

5. What style of hat suits a bigger head and hair?
I always think that it is more the whole body shape rather than the actual head size. Shorter ladies will disappear under a huge brim, broad ladies look broader in a small percher hat – so look at your whole silhouette.

6. Is it best to match your hat to your dress or vice versa?
Most of my private clients ask me to match a hat to a dress they have, however one customer recently bought a hat and said she would go and find the dress to match! I would say that if either a hat or a dress grabs you then start with that and then go on a hunt for the rest of your outfit.

7. How important is millinery at Royal Ascot?
VERY important! I hadn't been until I was lucky enough to go on Ladies’ Day as a guest of Ascot a few years ago. I couldn't believe how many hats were there; everyone has a hat and you would feel so out of place if you were without one, although a hat is a dress requirement. I think that what might feel outrageous for a novice hat-wearer at home will suddenly feel perfect in the grounds. Some hats are wonderful, some are terrible, but that is half the fun; looking around and thinking ‘Yes!’ or ‘NO!’ but they are ALL wearing hats.

8. Where do you get inspiration for your designs from?
From everywhere, an exhibition, a conversation, lots from gardening and walks in nature. A lot from my sense of humour and a sense of ‘can I get away with this?!’ but also from the amazing women I meet. I think to myself ‘this would be amazing on Erin’ or ‘Lecia would LOVE this!’ and then I know I'm onto something.

9. How would you describe your style of hats?
Generally witty and fun, but I have made a lot of chic hats recently – does that mean I'm getting safe? I am very fussy about the line of a hat and how the hat and the trim work with each other and the human form. A hat should work with the body, not against it.

10. Finally, what are you most looking forward to at Royal Ascot 2013?
Winning a huge bet!

For more information on Piers Atkinson visit his website, or for Royal Ascot visit

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Welcome to Day One of the Ascot Flat season 2013

Welcome to Day One of the Ascot Flat season 2013; we’ll have plenty of exciting racing ahead throughout the year and today’s free racing action gets us off to a superb start.

The feature race of today is the Longines Sagaro Stakes (3.30) over 2m in which The Queen’s Estimate, winner of last season’s Group 3 Queen’s Vase at Royal Ascot over course and distance, is due to make her seasonal reappearance. She rounded last season off with a good third in the Park Hill Stakes (G2), and with today’s 3lb weight for age claim, she should go close.

"She has wintered well, and we've always been hopeful about her making the progression from three to four," said John Warren, the Queen’s racing manager to the Racing Post.

"Hopefully we will find out at Ascot where we really stand in the big scheme of things. She is bred to be better this year, but it's not going to be easy taking on the colts. We're looking forward to seeing how she fares."

Askar Tau, a consistent type last year, has not run since his good third behind Rite Of Passage here in the Long Distance Cup at the Champions meeting, while Earth Amber is an interesting runner for Nicky Henderson, the new British NH champion trainer.  A French-bred she has had one run in Britain when second in April to the Testosterone, a former Group 1 runner-up, having previously finished second to a subsequent Group 1 winner Les Beaufs at Deauville last August.

Irish-based trainer Jessica Harrington sends over Steps To Freedom, third in the Alleged Stakes last month, and this trip to the UK won’t have been made in vain.

Typhoon blown in from Ireland
Typhoon Lily will have kept the Harrington runner company on the boat over from Ireland and runs in the mile Active Navigation EBF Stakes (2.30).

A well-bred filly, this is a step up for the daughter of Unbridled’s Song, but she ran really well when just beaten in an EBF race on the All-Weather at Dundalk last time, comes here fit from two winter outings and has the added assistance of champion jockey Richard Hughes.

Pearl Sea ran against some of the best two-year-old fillies of last season and put in a highly creditable performance when fifth in the Group 2 Lowther Stakes. She has an entry in the Coronation Stakes (G1) and if she has any chance of meeting that engagement she needs to perform with credit here.

Masarah has a similar profile – her best performance so far was when fifth behind Certify in the Fillies’ Mile (G1) – and is entered in all of the big fillies’ races through the early season, while the once-raced Chat also holds a Coronation Cup entry. Keep an ear out for the racecourse vibes concerning this unexposed runner.

Fencing to take the Paradise
Stipulate, Sovereign Debt, Don’t Call Me, and Boom And Bust are all closely matched on the book for The Listed Battersea Dogs & Cats Home Paradise Stakes (3.00), but the four-year-old son of Street Cry Fencing is taken to come into his own this year.

He was lightly raced last year, but he was highly enough regarded to be tried in the 2,000 Guineas in which he ran without disgrace to finish sixth. He followed that up with a third in the Dante Stakes (G2) and, after a disappointing effort in the St James’s Palace (G1), he finished fourth after a mid-season break behind Fulbright in the Dubai Challenge Stakes (G2). He might be in need of the outing here against race-hardened individuals, but he may also just possesses that extra bit of class to make difference.

Three-year-old lock horns in the Pavilion Stakes
The 6f Listed Battersea Dogs & Cats Home Pavilion Stakes (4.10) sees the three-year-olds do battle over a sprint trip.  All of these bar Snow King had plenty of outings as two-year-olds with the colt Ahern posting the best form in the book when third in the 6f Group 2 July Stakes at Newmarket, although his season ended abruptly after a subsequent poor effort in the Gimcrack Stakes (G2) in August.

Liberating for Jessica Harrington drops back a furlong after a promising effort in a 1,000 Guineas Trial and earlier in April in the Listed Patton Stakes when behind the Aidan O’Brien-trained Gale Force Ten, however the in-form Zanetto is likely to be sent off race favourite after his Tattersalls Millions success at Newmarket in April.

The Andrew Balding-trained son of Medicean has Group race form in the book when second last season in the 6f Sirenia Stakes (G3) at Kempton with Hasopop, Pearl Acclaim and Intibaah all well beaten behind him.

Don’t dismiss the chances of Mick Channon’s filly Sandreamer, who finished second to Maureen, a 14-1 chance for this weekend’s 1,000 Guineas, in the Princess Margaret Stakes (G3) here last July.

Rock along to the conclusion 
Rockalong is an improving sort and Luca Cumani looks to have found a suitable opening for the son of Rock Of Gibraltar in the closing mile Redcentric Handicap (4.45), while the opening 5f Aldermore Conditions Stakes (2.00) looks to be a battle between Anticipated from the Richard Hannon yard and Justice Day trained by David Elsworth.

Share This