Wet weather failed to stop thousands of women from descending upon Newmarket’s July Course on Thursday for this year’s Ladies Day.
Despite umbrellas as opposed to sunglasses being the must-have accessory, a crowd of 16,478 – two-per cent up on the previous year – braved the relentless downpours for the opening day of the course’s three-day July Festival meeting.
While the clouds above may have been grey, there was no shortage of colour in this year’s Best Dressed Lady competition which attracted more than 700 entrants.
Judges awarded the first prize, which included a £400 ESPA hamper and Ladies Day for two at the The Spa Bedford Lodge in Newmarket, to Alisha Foley from Nottingham.
The 30-year-old’s winning outfit was made up of a jacket and dress from Zara and a pair of Kurt Geiger shoes plus a necklace from Primark and a hat made by her sister Michelle – herself a runner-up in the competition.
Alisha will now by invited back to Newmarket in October for the Best Dressed Lady event on Dubai Future Champions Day.
“It was a real surprise to win,” said Alisha.
“I decided to go for this as I like the old classic chic look for the races.”
Day One action on the track saw the inaugural running of the Hastings Direct Sir Henry Cecil Stakes (formerly the Stubbs Stakes) named in honour of the legendary former Newmarket trainer who died last June.
The Listed race, in which connections of the winner each received a Sir Henry Cecil rose, served up a thrilling finish with the Aidan O’Brien- trained Table Rock just edging out Pretzel.
“It was a great race and Henry would have enjoyed watching that,” said Lady Cecil, his widow.
“The July Course was very special to Henry and it is a real honour that the race has been named after him.”
Twenty-four hours later it was the turn of the men to dress to impress at the track for the Best Dressed Gentleman competition. Taking home first prize in the sartorial stakes was Stephen Britt from Stonham Aspal, near Stowmarket,
On Saturday couples received their chance to shine on the makeshift catwalk with a holiday for two at a four-star hotel in Menorca up for grabs.
Winning the Best Dressed Couples prize was Cambridge couple Nick Linsey, 24, and Louise Wong, 27.
Earlier in the day Slade Power established himself as the king of the sprinting division with a win in the Group One Darley July Cup – the feature race of the festival (see sports pages for more).
Many eyes were focused on fourth-placed finisher Undrafted, who was watched on by his owner Wes Welker, star of NFL side Denver Broncos.
“He ran really well and I was happy with his effort,” said Welker, who together with Paddy Power donated 10,000 euros to the Injured Jockeys’ Fund as part of side bet.
“He come up a bit short against some great horses but I am happy with the outcome,”
In total more than 35,000 people came through the gates for the three-day spectacle much to the delight of Newmarket Racecourses boss Amy Starkey.
“It has been a tough and rewarding three days and it’s a testament to the crowd and the team that we got through a trying first two days, especially Thursday,” said Miss Starkey.
“It was an honour that NFL star Wes Welker was able to take break from his pre-season training with the Denver Broncos to watch his horse Undrafted run in the Darley July Cup.”