The traditional winter sporting season has begun its final sortie, with the culmination of the six nations rugby championship, the traditional hunting season, the shooting and stalking seasons have all ended and the tweed and fur is almost confined to cedar-lined closets.
There is one last highlight, a fitting final hurrah before spring truly sets in, the Cheltenham Festival; four days of some of the finest national hunt racing this country has to offer. Attendees number over a quarter of a million and with £4.1m of prize money to be won, it’s no wonder excitement reaches fever pitch.
At Pol Roger Portfolio we understand this anticipation, as the UK agents for Glenfarclas Single Malt Whisky, we have been attending Cheltenham for many years in support of the ‘Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase’ series. There are few races with such cut and thrust; the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase is no respecter of form or favourites. This year, on Wednesday 15th March, we look forward to the final instalment of the series (until we begin again in November 2017 for the Open).
Looking for some inspiration for the Cheltenham Festival? Fear not, we have sought the advice of experts, craftsmen and women on hand to help with choosing the right horse, hat, suit, shoes or shirt…
Charles Hamer, Director of Racing, Pol Roger Ltd
Consider eating in a pub before going to the racecourse, the concessions and restaurants can be very busy on course. Buy and read the Racing Post which has much more informed information than can be gleaned from just one broad-sheet; it’s the equivalent of the Racing bible. Although I carry them, binoculars no longer seem to be a necessity as there are big screens provided everywhere, however always useful for seeing things others may miss.
Hetty Chidwick, Luxury Editor, Country Life
It’s always colder than you think, so make sure you layer up some cashmere and fur from N. Peal, or a vintage fur piece if you’re lucky enough to own one (although keep a tight hold of it, we’ve had a disaster in the past with an heirloom disappearing into the crowds when turbulent weather hit!). Coats from Katherine Walker will be bang on style wise, but then work equally well for Spring in town. A proper hat from Rachel Trevor Morgan or a Fedora style from Penmayne of London or Camilla Rose Millinery will top off the look. At least you can look the part even if your racing tips aren’t up to much!
Emma Willis MBE, founder of Emma Willis Ltd (shirtmaker) and Style for Soldiers Charity
Arrive early around 11 to avoid the queues and head straight for the Guinness stand where you will be surrounded by mostly male smiling racegoers. Even if you don’t like Guinness holding half a pint and sipping it slowly will immerse you in the day from the start.
Wear something warm, for women ideally a long coat in a muted colour navy, brown, green, tweed are all perfect colours with a pair of sturdy heeled boots. Don’t wear high heels or stilettos as there is grass to walk over and it’s a long day on your feet. Men wear a suit with an overcoat or if it’s wet a country sporting coat. It is very rarely warm, so layer and prepare but you can wear something more feminine underneath for lunch if you are inside in a private box.
As the day progresses before each race try to go to the parade ring, where you can see the horses before they race even if you don’t know anything about it. If you get involved in the races, then the day flies by and you get so much more enjoyment from it.
Everyone is smiling and friendly at Cheltenham, so just join in.
Emma McCall, Designer, rider and racing enthusiast
Keeping warm and being early is essential. Top tip for this is to pack a hip flask, Glenfarclas Single Malt or sloe gin is a good tipple to keep the cold out and kick start the day to accompany a big breakfast on the train. Crowds are enormous so best to beat them to it by arriving early and having a good snoop around the shops before the racing starts.
Cheltenham is a tough track where there’s plenty of unexpected thrills and spills. You want to pick a horse that has stamina, especially when the going is heavy. Go to the parade ring to view the horses before placing your bet. Choose a horse that has a decent ‘walk’ and a good bottom! Powerful hindquarters are key on this unforgiving track.
Charlie Allen, Designer, Charlie Allen Bespoke
Bright tips for Cheltenham Festival: Flowers & tweed.
After all the dreary winter months we can start wearing some bright spring light colours with our tweed suits and blazers. Bright floral ties with equally bright hankies, which we can also use for mopping up the tears of joy when you have just backed the winner. And of course bright and thick woolly or cotton socks to give you good luck. I also think that brown shoes work better than any other colour for Men at the Cheltenham festival.
Hillary Becque, Marketing Director of Cordings of Piccadilly
Warmth and comfort are essential for the day, but style does not need to be abandoned. For gentlemen the house check tweed suit, teamed with a tattersall shirt, country tie and trilby will ensure you look smart. The essential ingredient of your outfit is of course the Covert Coat, brogues are the perfect footwear, sturdy and smart.
For her, warmth and comfort is paramount. Start with footwear that is going to be up to the job, heels are a no no, elegant riding boots or feminine brogues are ideal. Tweed comes into its own at The Festival, warm, elegant and feminine, team with a smart luxurious trilby for the perfect outfit.
The Great British weather can be a cruel mistress, always remember the essentials, a chilled bottle of Pol Roger Champagne on the train towards Cheltenham spa and enough Glenfarclas Single Malt Whisky in your hipflask(s) to keep out the chill wind. Toasting your success and eventful day with a nip of Glenfarclas may just keep you on track for the winner….