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Racing Life

Royal Ascot

SHIFT IN GEAR Sarah Rodrigues looks at Royal Ascot’s emergence into the 21st century



s steeped in tradition as Royal Ascot is, it’s not without its ability to move with the times. Last year, the first significant change since 1971 was made to the rigorous Royal Enclosure dress code, with jumpsuits officially acceptable - subject, of course, to certain requirements regarding length, coverage and colour. At this year’s event, Sophie, Countess of Wessex, became the royal pioneer for this contemporary style at the races, appearing on June 20th in a shortsleeved Emilia Wickstead jumpsuit, with elegantly wide, flowing legs. Other changes to be made in recent years have been as reflective of society as of fashion - for example, it was only as of 2016 that married women were, after many decades of tradition, permitted to use their own names on the badges that must be worn in the Royal Enclosure; prior to this, their badges were made up according to the names of their husbands. There was, of course, no badge made up


Victoria Smith wore royal blue for her day in the Royal Enclosure

in the name of Meghan Markle, whose ‘HRH The Duchess of Sussex’ badge was attached to her handbag rather than to her Givenchy dress; a ‘hole-in-expensivefabric’ saving device that’s been employed by both Princess Anne and Princess Beatrice in the past. Occasionally, tradition is dispensed with for temporary and practical reasons,

such as last year, when unusually hot conditions saw organisers permitting men to remove their coats once within the Royal Enclosure - although, of course, these did still have to be worn for admission. The rules on headwear became a little stricter this year, with most fascinators now no longer permitted in the Royal Enclosure and the rules specifying that all headpieces in the top tier must have “a solid base of 4 inches (10cm) or more.” Guests in the other enclosures had more freedom in this regard, although wearing one’s head piece at all times is still essential. “Women can be very expressive with their hats at Royal Ascot, and that’s largely because the dress code has always been so traditional,” says milliner Edwina Ibbotson. This year, her bespoke creations incorporated many requests for feathers and flowers; with Royal Ascot seen as the style-setter for the rest of the summer formal season, what does she think we’ll be seeing a lot of this year? “Slightly larger, broader brimmed hats,” says Edwina. “I also had a lot of requests for black and white hats, so I expect we will be seeing more monochrome.” One significant Royal Enclosure event this year was in the attendance of transgender guest, Victoria Smith, who rode three times at Ascot as jockey Vince Smith, as well as having three runners at the prestigious event in her later career as a trainer. Over the course of her career as a


Milliner Edwina Ibbotson says black and white was a popular choice this year

Statement headpieces are one of the fashionable highlights of Royal Ascot

jockey, which spanned 1983 - 2000, Smith rode more than 250 winners and, this year, entered the Royal Enclosure on Ladies’ Day dressed in a royal blue Hobbs dress, with a matching Carrie Jenkinson hat - a colour scheme chosen to reflect the branding of her employers, Godolphin, for whom she works as a security guard. “The reaction I’ve had from the racing world and beyond since coming out last year has been wonderful,” says Smith, who also made racing history in May this year, when she became the first transgender jockey to ride on a British course. “When Ascot were contacted to authorise my admission as Victoria Smith to the Royal Enclosure, they were nothing but supportive. It was an absolutely fantastic day.” Edwina Ibbotson Millinery 020 7498 5390


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Profile for Thoroughbred Owner Breeder

Thoroughbred Owner Breeder  

Incorporating Pacemaker - July 2018 July's issue features a fascinating interview with Chasemore Farm's Andrew Black who is making his mark...

Thoroughbred Owner Breeder  

Incorporating Pacemaker - July 2018 July's issue features a fascinating interview with Chasemore Farm's Andrew Black who is making his mark...