My Race Days
“Passing Quickly like the Pouring Cloud”: The Romance of the Arabian: Dubai International Race Day Newbury
Ever since I was a child the stories and culture of the Middle East have fascinated me. There is a beauty and romance there that is spellbinding for children; I was no less impressed when I recently worked in the Middle East myself. I worked for an Iraqi company involved in logistics during post-war reconstruction and I became well acquainted with Jordan and Kuwait in particular over the period of a year. I had also visited Dubai during a short break and was thoroughly looking forward to the Dubai International Race Day at Newbury; a whole day of pure bred Arabian races. I was not to be disappointed!
* My tent in Wadi Rum, Jordan, and a working Arabian horse at Petra
Though I am not an equine expert, I had seen enough of Arabian horses to know that there is something very special about them. To some in the horse racing world, they may consider the Arabian horse less important – and it’s unlikely you will see column space dedicated to the meetings in daily national papers, or indeed the Racing Post. Those who think that are well and truly missing out in my opinion. After all, the thoroughbred is descended from the Arabian horse and horse racing started in the Middle East many centuries before the advent of the modern thoroughbred. The Arabian in fact replaced heavier horses for fast, light cavalry in warfare in the west after the Crusaders had encountered them in the Middle Ages; later many famous generals rode them including George Washington (Blueskin) and Napoleon (Marengo). Studs became established in Poland and Russia in the 18th century and much racing there still features Arabian racing alongside thoroughbred races. Indeed, trainers have both in their stables. There isn’t a huge difference between them speed-wise, although it has to be said that thoroughbreds are slightly faster. But Arabians have a certain grace, born out of their characteristic floating movement when running; carrying their heads and tails high all the while. This is what gives them a unique charm; as does their intelligence and spirit. Their history and man’s fascination with and praise of them date back a long time. Horses with characteristics the same as the Arabian were domesticated in the Middle East as long ago as 5000 years; one of the most famed horses ever, Bucephalus, the horse of Alexander, was undoubtedly Arabian if his depiction on coins of the period are correct*.
We can get an insight into man’s fascination with their attributes by reading pre-Islamic poets during the 6-7th centuries AD.
“Very swift he is, like the toy spinner a boy will whirl, Plying it with his nimble hands by the knotted thread. His flanks are the flanks of a fawn, his legs are like an ostrich’. The springy trot of a wolf he has, the fox’s gallop.”
And the horse, like a roebuck that has grazed on the Rabl plant began shaking its head with annoyance from the pouring sweat
And It began racing with our young she camel As we led it beside her. It is hard for us to handle Like a snake let loose. It overtook them
And galloped off Passing quickly like a pouring cloud. — Alqamah al-Fahl
These are translated verses of two Muallaqat poets; Alqamah al-Fahl and Imru al Qays. The Muallaqat are the ‘hanging poems’ – pre-Islamic poetry that allegedly were hung on the Kaaba in Mecca, so revered were they; alternatively other schools of thought suggest it could just be a reference to the practice of great poems being ‘suspended’ for others to see in general at the time. What is evident in these two works is that the Arabian horse was immensely revered and these lengthy beautiful descriptions, comparing them to other animals in a competition between the two poets, gives us an insight into their profound significance in Arabic culture.
The internet and books on horses abound with romanticised verse about the Arabian; often cited incorrectly as being from the Koran. The literary source of most are difficult to trace, and they may owe much to English Romanticism and explorers of the region misunderstanding Bedouin oral tradition. Certainly there was a period English fascination with them; Lord Byron, Crabbet stud, and T E Lawrence and other military figures and explorers adding to the mythology.
However that is not to say that horses are not mentioned in the Koran; and I have found some interesting verses from there and in Hadiths; the supplementary testimonies of companions of the Prophet Mohammed. Of course like the poems, the beauty of the verse is in the spoken form in native tongue; nevertheless we can still appreciate in these lines the importance of the horse from the early days of Islam. With the growth of Islam came the spread of the Arabian horse; the ‘drinker of the wind’.
Narrated Ursa bin ALGA: The Prophet said, "Good will remain (as a permanent quality) in the foreheads of horses till the Day of Resurrection."
And narrated Anas bin Malik: Allah's Apostle said, "There is a blessing in the fore-heads of horses." Book 52 Hadith
Narrated Uqbah ibn Amir:Everything with which a man amuses himself is vain except three (things): a man's training of his horse, his playing with his wife, and his shooting with his bow and arrow (Book #14, Hadith #2507)
Narrated Abu Hurayrah: The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Wagers are allowed only for racing camels, or horses or shooting arrows. (Book #14, Hadith #2568)
Narrated Abu Hurayrah: The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: If one enters a horse with two others when he is not certain that it cannot be beaten, it is not gambling; but when one enters a horse with two others when he is certain it cannot be beaten, it is gambling. (Book #14, Hadith #2573)
[...] the steeds that run, with panting breath, and strike sparks of fire from their hooves, and push home the charge in the morning, and raise the dust in clouds the while, and penetrate forthwith into the midst of the foe [...]
— The Koran 100:1 – 100:5
And so it was, with my experience of, and interest in, the Middle East, tales of the Arabian Knights and Bedouin poems, and a respect for the cultural significance of the Arabian horse in Islam and before, I was bound for Newbury. To see these magnificent animals race.
A Spirit of Elegance, Flags and an International Event
One is immediately struck by the elegance of the Arabian horse. The way it carries itself, with flag tail held aloft and nostrils flaring, large eyes, and its refined head also held high.
If an Arabian were a human it would be the perfect model; elegance personified. But character is also part of this equine mannequin’s spirit. The horse is referred to as ‘khayl’ in Arabic for its ‘ikhtiyal’ (pride, haughtiness) and Al Jahiz – the great 9th century Arabic Biologist (who first outlined ideas of natural selection and evolution) and prose writer – uses the word ‘zahw’ or ‘zahd’. This means ‘splendour’ or ‘arrogance’; to be beautiful and proud; to shine and bloom.
Alqamah al-Fahl’s poem also describes the spirit of the Arabian horse perfectly. Anyone who has ever sat on a horse and ridden side by side knows that it was horses that taught man to race. Their nature commits them to lead the herd; and Alqamah’s verse describes the eagerness to lead, and general ‘spirit’, well.
Some regard that spirited nature of the Arab as its most endearing quality; others see that temperament as a problem. When all is considered, there is no doubt it makes for a spectacle. Even the high tail carriage of the Arabian is something to savour. Spectacle is what the horse racing in general is all about and part of my enthusiasm for it is that it takes place in an environment where women are welcome, unlike some other sports.
Fashion is a great part of horse racing and I had heard that while the Arabian day at Newbury is free entry and has a relaxed family atmosphere, fashion is also part of the day; with Best Dressed Lady prizes and elegantly attired Arabian ladies. One only has to go to Dubai or Kuwait to see all the couture boutiques. When I am invited to a party I like to bring something to the table; so when an opportunity arose I thought it could be interesting!
I had been approached by friend Ceri Cushen, who my blog followers will know used to work at the Bernard Llewellyn Racing stables in Bargoed, Wales. She now works in the fashion industry and told me about an exciting new fashion innovation. Ceri recently styled the hair in the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie; and also does a lot of fashion editorial shoot styling. She now works with Robert Masciave, the world famous hair stylist whose work is breathtaking; his surreal creations regularly appear on catwalks and in editorial shoots; including for Revlon. Robert is a real character, hailing from France though his salon in Kingston-Upon-Thames is currently UK salon of the year; and when I heard he had designed a collection of hats made from human hair I knew they were going to be ...well...fantastic! It’s a much overused expression (especially by me!) but in this case I mean it literally: ‘conceived or appearing as if conceived by an unrestrained imagination’. Just Google Robert Masciave to see the work for yourself. So Ceri asked me if I would like to have a look at them and perhaps wear them to the races sometime. I had modelled on a fashion shoot recently for Newbury which went really well so I thought immediately about the Arabian Race Day. I suggested that perhaps Newbury and the Arabian Racing Organisation (ARO) would like us to do a photoshoot on the day so the public could enjoy an insight into the world of fashion. They were both delighted to oblige. Robert designed some bespoke hats for the occasion, and we had to think carefully and select from our own wardrobes a look that would be appropriate. What is spectacular about the hats is that (being made from human hair) they have movement despite being fixed. They are somehow reminiscent of Arabian horses’ manes and tails.
Then we needed a photographer. We approached fashion photographer Sheradon Dublin with whom we have both worked before. I have been trying to get him along to the races for some time! Robert decided as he had never been to the races either he would love to come, and was happy to style our hair for the shoot too. In fact he would also bring his wife Connie to sample a day at the races and she would also model! So part of the day for us was to contribute to the entertainment! Connie wore her restyled Vera Wang wedding dress in beautifully understated co-ordinating colours; Ceri and I opted for a 1940’s vintage inspired look. She wore navy 40’s flared trousers teamed with a cream silk blouse, vintage fox stole and red white and navy shoes with red gloves. I went for a 70’s does 40’s Susan Roselli for Vijack green hooded peplum jacket, and floor length vintage (Ley) Escada skirt.
The above are some of the shoot shots by Sheradon Dublin; shown with his permission.
Newbury’s ‘MC’ for the day was Derek Thompson, and he grabbed us all for an interview as soon as we were ready. Special mention must go to Derek as his enthusiasm is unbridled! My brother in law Adrian, who came with his wife Roxy who hails from Siberia (and was our make up artist for the day), remarked: “Fair dos to Tommo; he didn’t stop talking from 11am to 6pm!” Roxy also used to work in racing and was the PR person for CRB Bloodstock in the Czech Republic where she met Adrian. Tommo also mentioned that as it was an International day there was a special prize for the person who hailed from the furthest away! Well with Robert from France, Sheradon from Guyana, Roxy from Siberia and Connie from Utah in the USA, we had a really international team to add to the event but there were also visitors from Australia, Argentina,Japan and New Zealand too; as well as from all over the Middle East. In fact; this was a truly international occasion in depth because the runners came from many nations.
And so to the competitors. (Reproduced by kind permission ARO)
HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid al Maktoum; The Desert Born and the British weather: from the United Arab Emirates , Iraq and Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia....and a little closer to home.
As you can see from the entries, Arab horses came from many nations to race at Newbury. Owned and trained in Sweden, Belgium Netherlands and France as well as the above. The Dubai International Arabian Raceday day is the brainchild of HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid al Maktoum of Dubai and he had several runners and winners on the day. Sheikh Hamdan is also the Deputy Ruler of Dubai; it is under his patronage the event is held.
Most sponsors hailed from Dubai - Emirates Airlines sponsor at the event as do Jebel Ali Racecourse; their flags and banners and the Emirates Airlines’ hostesses added vibrant colour to the show. The Emirates Equestrian Federation also sponsored; as did the famous thoroughbred and Arabian Shadwell Stud; and The Al Hai Group. The rain did its best to interrupt proceedings with a heavy downpour before the first race, but it stopped soon enough and the remainder of the day was held in sunshine beneath dark dramatic clouds with all those coloured banners fluttering in the wind. The official going was however good-soft!!
Perhaps not the best of weather for horses bred for the desert, but the dark skies above the low horizon and impressive grandstand of Newbury made for dramatic lighting. Ceri explained to Robert and I how the action of the Arabian may not be suited for heavy ground. When the downpour came it was so heavy that people wondered if the racing would be called off. But like its metaphoric equine partner; the pouring cloud passed quickly.
HH Sheikh Hamdan had horses running on the day trained in the UK by Gill Duffield and from France with M. T. Lemer and M F Rohaut. Each trained a winner in the Sheikh’s blue and white colours, which will be familiar to followers of thoroughbred Flat racing throughout the world. Aktar Lotois took the second race, sponsored by Emirates NBD Banking, for Rohaut over 1m 2 furlongs. It was ridden by F X Bertras and won from another French trained runner Mu’Azzaz ridden by David Badel and owned by Sheikh Mohammed B K Al Thani of Qatar. Simon Harrison rode third placed Tidarbret which is owned by Middleton Stud.
Richard Hills rode the winner of the sixth race, the Emirates Equestrian Federation sponsored Group 2 Race over 7 furlongs, in Sheikh Hamdan’s colours on Usimir de Montegut in a thrilling finish from the Oman Cavalry owned Mestor and Qatar raider Aziz Al Shahania. The crowd were very animated with such an exhilarating finish; some it seemed had been following the greys; others Richard Hills, and others simply because they loved the Oman Cavalry colours!
The following race, the Jebel Ali Racecourse Handicap Stakes over I mile 5 furlongs, also went to Sheikh Hamdan and Richard Hills on Eustral; this time trained by Gill Duffield who also trained the 2nd Mosahed ridden by Mr P Collington; while Steve Drowne rode 3rd Kalikeauba trained by Bill Smith for the Saudi Arabian Athbah Stud.
So a treble for HH Sheikh Hamadan on the day to compensate for the narrow defeat of his popular No Risk al Maury in the £40k Shadwell Dubai International Group 1 by Asraa Min Albarq, ridden by TP O’Shea for the Al Shahania Stud for Qatar-based trainer Julian Smart. He also trained the third in the race ridden by Alan Munro for Qatar, owned by HH Sheikh Khalifa Bin Mohammed B K Al Thani. Omni DA trained by Mr J Verstrepen for Belgium took 4th ridden by none other than jumps jockey Sam Hitchcott at 33/1. You can watch the end of the race in the opening video; (by kind permission of Racing UK who allowed me to film it)
Julian Smart completed a double also training the winner of the Group 1 Al Hai Group Zaabeel Stakes. Aziz, ridden by Alan Munro; beat the Oman Royal Cavalry horse trained by Mr S Al Hakmani in Oman with the Gill Duffield trained Miss L Hartley owned El Adjban in third. It turns out having spoken to Qatar based Julian on Facebook that he used to live in the Mumbles near Swansea where I am now based! A small world! many congratulations to his team!
The Frankie Macdonald ridden Syrah Gris trained in the UK by Mr A S Newey and owned by the Almost All partnership had taken the first race of the day; the Emirates Airlines Handicap stakes over 7 furlongs - narrowly beating the Royal Cavalry’s Razen by just a head with the D J Paton trained Senor Dublecheck (ridden by Neil Chambers) a couple of lengths behind. The popular veteran, 13 year old WFA Leopard ran very well for his followers and his 9th place in the end belied his great run.
The Shadwell Farm Hatta International for Mares and Fillies went to France in another thriller. The Philippe Sogorb ridden 4 year old Sanagham, trained by Mrs Litt, beat Areej ridden by Alan Munro for Qatar. The Simon Walker ridden Burning Fancy, trained by Bill Smith and owned by the Saudi Arabian Athbah Stud, was third with Sheikh Hamdan's mare Laqataat just behind in 4th.
The Mrs D Thomas trained Noble Athlete was another popular winner on the day; winning the last race, the Derrinstown Stud Handicap Stakes, for the UK at odds of 12/1. Under a strong ride from Mr M T Stanley he beat the 8/1 shot Maghazi, ridden by Mr C D Thompson trained by Mrs B Deutrom for HE Sheikh Nasseer Mohammed Nasser Al- Hashar of Oman.
Oman Royal Cavalry horses had some close calls and if anyone had bad luck on the day it was them; with 5 of their 6 runners finishing in the first four and being involved in some close finishes. I particularly liked their racing colours; crossed scimitars and crown embroidered motif on green, gold and red silks. The Royal Oman Cavalry also put on performances at equestrian shows regularly around the world, showcasing the skills of their horses and men and women riders. Have a look at the links at the bottom of the page to see their incredible women stunt riders! The Oman Royal Cavalry sponsor a whole day of Arabian Racing at Salisbury on September 4th; sure to be a really enjoyable day in Salisbury's intimate atmoshphere.
It was interesting for me as a geographer to learn more about some of these international participants on the day. There was even a runner from Argentina - Mr G Serra's Genuinely at Risk trained by Bill Smith in the UK. I was especially struck by the runner trained in Sweden by Ms Pia Hoiom for Iraqi owner Dr M A A al Nujaifi. As I worked alongside a number of Iraqi colleagues a few years ago, I have paid some interest in the revival of horse racing there. With all the troubles, the races in Baghdad have provided a degree of stability as this BBC article explains:
Dr Al Nujaifi has been very active in re-establishing Arabian horse racing in Iraq. In fact it only stopped for three months during the Iraq war according to the BBC report. Efforts have been made to encourage breeding there by standing stallions at stud free of charge. The differences between Shia and Sunni are forgotten at the track on racedays; the stability racing in Baghdad provides indication that a horse originally used for desert warfare is now a symbol of hope for peace.
Dr Al Nujaifi’s horse Al Dahis was awarded ‘Horse of the Year’ by the Swedish Jockey Club; so I was excited to see how he would run. He ran creditably; but didn’t get placed. He is a stunning horse though as you can see from the picture.
Colourful Camels, Art, Education, Fashion and prizes galore!
HH Sheikh Hamdan has a strong interest in mutlicultural education and multiculturalism was very much a central theme to the Dubai Summer Festival; female students from the Al-Maktoum College of Higher Education in Dundee were invited to the International Arabian Race Day, many of them being first time racegoers. His Highness Sheikh Hamdan is Patron of the college. The students invited to the meeting were graduates of various UAE universities, studying in the UK over the summer.
At the press launch of the Dubai Summer Festival, His Excellency Mirza Al Sayegh said: “We are very pleased that approximately 50 of the college’s female students are able to join us to witness the International Arabian Race Day which is an event that combines sport and culture and showcases many aspects of the UAE.”
The last few years have seen a huge growth in education among women in many countries of the Middle East and women fulfilling important technological, scientific, and professional careers. I spoke to a young lady from Dubai who is a student activities co-ordinator with Dubai Higher Colleges of Technology and who was having her first visit to the races; though she was a fan of it on television there.
There was also a project for local primary schools; they were given sculptures of camels and Arabian horses to decorate individually with prize money for the winning schools awarded after being judged on the day.
Fashion is popular among Arab women and one only has to look at the quality of drape of some of their garments; and the brief glimpses of some very beautiful designer shoes to realise that. Khadija Behzad had found our fashion shoot exciting and requested to have her photo taken with us which we did. Several other Arabian ladies also commented on our shoot which was nice. But we models and the Arabian ladies weren’t the only ladies dressed up. There was a best Dressed Lady competition; which was won by Maria Cheslin (pic below) in a stylish lace faced black and white suit and hat; and some stunning outfits from East and West.
Two ladies from Sudan were also in attendance doing the most exquisite henna tattoos. I definitely wanted one; and was delighted with the result:
Henna is a flowering plant, widespread in the Middle East, Africa and India, from which a dye can be derived to stain the skin, hair or leather; a practice that dates back to the Bronze Age. Catherine Cartwrite-Jones, a henna expert explains how in Arabia, it is central to various customs that both pre-date Islam and those that were later encompassed by Islam. Her work links the practice of staining women’s skin with henna to folklores, in particular those concerning the djinn; a spirit that could exist in either a malevolent or benevolent guise. Henna application was particularly central to ‘dispel’ malevolent djinn from females; the djinn having taken hold during their weakened state of menstruation. According to Cartwrite-Jones’ examination of the folklore, djenn can cause the following unsavoury behaviour in us women: “outbursts of temper, depression and migraines”! Following menstruation henna is applied to show purity of the body – lasting about a month. More generally, it is applied for protection, and as a form of attractive decoration on special occasions.
I have read a lot about the Djinn lately; who are undergoing something of a re-appraisal in western folklore. The movies : 'Stranded' and 'The Objective' a long way from the 'Arabian Knights' representation; and possibly closer to the true Arabic folklore. They are in fact considered in Islam to be a different life form; created by Allah; a 'third' type of life as opposed to humans and angels; and live in a different dimension. The Middle East mountains and desert are full of places attributed to the Djinn. Located about 100km south east of Muscatfor example, where the Oman Cavalry horses are based, is an extraordinary geographical feature: the 'Majlis al Jinn'; the cave of the Djinn; and one can see why this haunting place could be a home of such supernaturals: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Descending_into_cave.jpg
The Colourful Camels sculpture garden took centre stage by the side of the paddock which was nice for the school children who came with their parents and teachers. The Berkshire classes had clearly planned the decor meticulously; making notes and sketches of what was going to adorn the statues which were displayed beneath the finished works. Motifs of Arab and UK culture, flora and fauna, and flags and symbolism were emblazoned across the statues of both horses and camels. And it really was lovely to see the children’s excitement at having their work praised, meeting people from another culture, and how enthralled they were at the horses and racing.
The schools weren’t the only ones to walk off with generous prizes. There were cash prizes for the best dressed lady, draws to win holidays to Dubai and four chic Christian Dior watches! Then at the end of the day there was the draw for the car; a gleaming new red Peugeot. Tommo announced that the winner had to come up and claim his prize within three minutes; two minutes and counting - he still hadn’t materialised so a re-draw looked on the cards. He made it just in time. The winner’s daughter later explained to Tommo that her father had been in the gents at the time of the draw! With everyone attending going home with a goody bag with t-shirts from Shadwell stud, pens, and baseball caps from the sponsors; it had been a memorable day for all.
This truly is a special day in the racing calendar; if you haven’t been - mark it down in your diary for next year. HH Sheikh Hamdan has announced the fixture will again be held at Newbury July 2012. Perhaps it’s his favourite course; it is certainly rapidly becoming mine! The Dubai International Arabian Day is a day for the family; for fashion; for great prizes, for a truly friendly multi cultural atmosphere, for the banter of Derek Thompson on top form, and above all, for the most beautiful horses in the world. Blessed they be indeed.
Remaining fixtures for Arabian racing in the UK:
DON'T FORGET TO BOOK ONLINE WITH THE ARO FOR UP TO 20% DISCOUNT ON TICKETS. CHILDREN FREE.
Saturday 23rd July - Ascot - UK Arabian Derby (Group 1 PA)
Sunday 31st July - Newbury
Saturday 6th August - Hereford
Saturday 13th August - Newbury (Ladies Day)
Saturday 20th August -Nottingham
Wednesday 31st August -Bath (Group 3 PA)
Sunday 4th September - Salisbury
Saturday 10th September - Wolverhampton (AW)
Saturday 24th September -Stratford
Saturday 8th October - Warwick (Season Finale)
BIBLIOGRAPHY; FURTHER READING and INTERESTING WEBSITES:
Arabian Racing Organisation discounted ticket booking: http://www.aroracing.co.uk/come_racing/purchase_tickets.html
Arabian Racing Organisation: http://www.aroracing.co.uk/
Newbury Racecourse: http://www.newbury-racecourse.co.uk/
Sheradon Dublin Fashion Photographer: http://www.sheradondublin.com/
Racing UK for footage of all UK horse races: http://www.racinguk.com/
Full Dubai day Racing results: http://www.aroracing.co.uk/racing_news/pdf/2011/Newbury%20Results%2017.07.11.pdf
Al Maktoum College Dundee: http://www.almi.abdn.ac.uk/
Emirates Equestrian Federation: http://www.uaeequafed.ae/
Emirates Racing Authority: http://www.emiratesracing.com/
Jebel Ali Racecourse Dubai: http://www.emiratesracing.com/racecourses/jebel-ali
Pictures from 2007 confreence Syria and 2009 conference Oman: http://www.al-tair-stud.de/waho.htm
Athbah Stud Saudi Arabia: http://www.athbahstud.com/
Shadwell Stud: http://www.shadwellstud.co.uk/
Al Dahis facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Al-Dahis/132764823421516
Organisation devoted to Crabbet Stud influences In Arabian breeding: http://www.crabbet.org.uk/index.aspx
Report on the Royal Oman Cavalry Horsewomen stunt riders: http://www.middle-east-online.com/english/?id=36485
Stylist Ceri Cushen: http://www.cericushen.com/
Robert Masciave: http://www.robertmasciave.com/metropolishairdressing.com/METROPOLIS.html
Derrinstown Stud: http://www.derrinstown.com/
Al Shahania Stud Qatar: http://www.alshahaniastud.com/
International Federation of Arabian Horse Racing: http://www.ifahr.net/
Desription in Classical Arabian Poetry By Akiko Sumi http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=G7PZ50jqmnsC&pg=PA19&lpg=PA19&dq=Sumi,+Description+in+Classical+Arabic+Poetry#v=onepage&q&f=false
Emirates NBD Banking for those who want to do business in the area:
You can look up any Arabian owner trainer and horse stats on nthe IFAHR site; for example:
Julian Smart Racing stats:
*http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/5/5c/Seleucos_I_Bucephalos_coin.jpg/602px-Seleucos_I_Bucephalos_coin.jpg Proof of Bucephalus' Arabian characteristics.
More Racing and Fashion Shoot images and videos to follow shortly in a supplementary blog.
About Eliza Cook
Hi! I'm Eliza. I am a Geographer by profession, and am currently studying for a PhD in Geography at Swansea University. I will be investigating ice core records from Greenland pretty soon. But you don't want to hear about those.
On top of this, during a year out, I fell into working as an in-house model for Agent Provocateur. Strange but true! This experience heightened my appreciation of fashion - especially the eclectic and eccentric fashions of the races.
I've been a racing fan for two years. I love all racing, but a day at the jumps is where I really feel the most excitement. Having grown up in Gloucestershire, with two great racecourses on the doorstep - Cheltenham and Chepstow - it is a wonder that I didn't find racing sooner.
I've been privileged to be a part of some of the 'behind the scenes' elements of racing, from photographing frosty morning breeze-ups to attending the post Cheltenham Festival jockeys' celebration in the Weighing Room!
I am thrilled to be a 'Voice of the Races'. To me, the most striking feature of racing is the accessibility of participants - and the fact that everybody attending has a part to play. A day at the races has it all; wonderful horses, spectacle and fashion, in an adrenaline soaked atmosphere where people from all walks of life come together in mutual appreciation of the sport.
I can't wait to tell you all about my experiences at the races, the people I meet and the adventures I have, as well as the fashions I encounter and the stories I uncover.
I hope you enjoy it!
- 08.11.12 Cheltenham showcase 2012 ; A Fashion shoot, vintage fashion and fond Farewells; Sleek Bodies, Dark Lovers and a bit of Bondage.
- 15.10.12 Dubai International Arabian Raceday Newbury 2012 : the Pure Bred in Legend and Reality and a meeting of cultures
- 26.09.12 Fashion Pad : Racing, Rock n Roll and Retro; Barbours , Belstaffs and Burberrys , Biker Chic and Black Leather; and an addiction to Muck and Speed!
- 29.08.12 Friends at Fontwell Park: Number 6 and a figure of 8; Vintage Fashion & Fab history; Flying leaps, cricket & music...From The Jam and more!
- 29.08.12 After the first race; Fontwell
- 30.07.12 Eliza’s Log: back from a remote Arctic scientific research station; a suitably International blog; and some movies, art, fashion and music
- kevin morris…
- Christina McElhinney…
- Craig Ian McAlpine…
- Mitch Heron…
- Paul Wright…
- Atrhur Hendry…
What would you say your favorite thing to do in the entire world would be?