If you are looking to add a touch of style to your 2019 travel plans, racing tourism is the genre for you. With iconic carnivals throughout France, the United Kingdom and the Middle East from March to October, this is your chance to make your international debut. To assist your packing, FATR unveils the fashion themes at Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, Prix de Diane Longines, The Grand National and the Dubai World Cup, because destination racing is the new destination wedding.
Let us introduce you to Longchamp Racecourse. Situated in Paris, the striking venue hosts the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe every year, typically on the first October Sunday. The group one race is run over 2.4km and is Europe’s most prestigious horse race, carrying a prize value of €5million.
The Arc Weekend carnival hosts seven group one races, as well as the world’s richest race for purebred Arabian horses. The first Prix de l’Arc was run in 1920 and has been run every year, aside from 1939 and 1940 when Paris was immersed in World War II.
The tone of the day is elegant above all, with many women opting for comfortable clothing, with clean lines and not too high a heel. A style heavily influenced by Coco Chanel and Paris’s many champions of simple elegance, pants and blazers with a felt hat or fedora are a common choice, with many women opting not to wear a hat at all.
For the racegoers venturing away from classic French girl dressing, some locals choose dresses, hats and a bolder beauty look, while visiting British guests are easy to spot in tailored skirt suits and headpieces. Hopeful fashion couples can find themselves in a prize draw awarded by sponsors such as Longines, Qatar Tourism and Citroen Automobile for the most elegant couple, known as the Prix d’Élégance for Beaux Duos.
If romance is your race day motif, hop on a train and travel 30 minutes out of Paris to Chantilly, where the Prix de Diane Longines is held in June annually. With a theme similar to our Oaks Day, the Sunday afternoon is much like a high fashion picnic at the aesthetically enchanting grounds of Chantilly by the chateau.
The hat-centric dress code is nearly as outlandish as the Kentucky Derby, featuring a spectrum of bright colours and plenty of feminine flounce. On the day, Longines awards the title of Mademoiselle Diane, where a prize is given to the most sophisticated guest. An equestrian victory at Prix de Diane can lead to a win at the Prix de l’Arc, making the 40,000-patron event a spectacle for fashion and fillies alike.
Across the English Channel, The Grand National takes place in April in Liverpool and is the most valuable jumps race in Europe. Carrying a prize of £1 million, the handicap steeplechase is run across 6.9km at Aintree Racecourse. The fences are much larger than that of most National Hunt tracks, making the combination of height and distance the ultimate challenge for jockey and horse.
Aintree hosts a mix of style statements akin to that of Flemington on Melbourne Cup Day, with similar carnage. Guests parade everything from ornate midi dresses and stilettos to power suits, colourful cocktail dresses and bold headpieces. However, headpieces are not a requirement.
Traditional Liverpudlian glamour has a heavy presence at Aintree; visitors can expect to see locals in dramatic makeup and a Geordie Shore-style celebration of the female form with antics to match. Hopeful fashionistas compete for the annual Style Award, where outfits are judged on colour, style and strikingness.
Across Europe and over to the Middle East, the Dubai World Cup is one of the richest group one races on earth, with a purse of US$12 million attached to its 2019 carnival. Meydan Racecourse has hosted races annually since 1996, where guests watch eight Thoroughbred races and one Purebred Arabian run over a 2km distance.
Although racing blood has long flowed through the veins of the people of the Arabian Peninsula, racing horses was first practised in 1981 in the Emirate of Dubai. Three thoroughbred races were held on a dusty camel track, organised by the office of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
The Dubai World Cup has a heavy focus on racing fashion and is truly a world stage, as guests bring their sartorial sentiments from across the globe to the glamorous last Saturday night in March. The Style Stakes competition was sponsored by Topshop/Topman this year, where judges searched for the most creative, practical and graceful ensemble of the day.
The Dubai World Cup website reminds guests that the races are not a nightclub, and sequins, short skits and midriffs should be kept aside for the afterparty. Embellished minis and floral midis were highlighted as key trends, as well as the use of mesh to create perspective across the form.
Participants in the Meydan Style Stakes must wear hats or fascinators at all times, wear dresses and tops with two straps that are at least one inch wide and keep hemlines at just above the knee and down. This year, judges included blogger Tala Samman, Design 24 Director Noor Breish, Milliner Ana Pribylova, Esquire Middle East and Grazia Middle East fashion editor Daniel Higgins and Fashion and Beauty Editor Lucy Wildman.
The Best Dressed Lady winner was Alla Dimech, who came from Australia for the Dubai World Cup and debuted her own design at the Style Stakes. The boat-neck taupe and white banded dress featured an accentuated shoulder detail, with a full cascading skirt which was lined with a contrasting printed fabric that was also used in her headpiece.
Best Dressed Man was former stylist Nader Telab from Sudan, who created his three-piece suit comprised of a white blazer and pants, and a complementary blue waist coat, accessorised with a tan woven fedora, a coral pink lapel flower and a blue umbrella with a golden handle.
Another notable winner was Oksana Belyaeva for Best Hat. Originally from Russia, the Australia-based environmental science researcher is a semi-professional milliner and created her intricate floral pattern gold woven headpiece with a neon pink base from plastic and rubber.
While A-line midi skirts were a popular choice for Style Stakes entrants, celebrity guests brought their own unique aesthetic to Meydan. Television Host Wafa Hamidi wore an ankle-gracing blush pink figure-hugging long-sleeved gown and matching headpiece, and blogger Eugenia Polyakova rocked a tuxedo dress by Beirut-based label PEARL AND RUBIES with a bold Gucci belt, Dior clutch and black millinery with a mesh veil.
However, you don’t have to score a VIP invitation to attend these global race days. You can tailor your experience to your own standard of luxury with ticket options to suit all travellers. Prepare your passports, it’s time to explore racing fashion on an international level.
Gallery of photo looks via Instagram: