My Race Days
Eliza’s Log: back from a remote Arctic scientific research station; a suitably International blog; and some movies, art, fashion and music
Well it’s a while since my last log entry but I hope I will be forgiven as I was on scientific field work – and have been for the whole of June – at a deep core station on the north Greenland ice sheet. It is that isolated that not even an Inuit hunter or a polar bear venture here. There is no phone contact and only the station email which is limited. Internet access is not available to us; and so my news of what has been going on in the world had been limited to what I have learned from my partner David.
While horse racing isn’t an Olympic sport (boo!) the Olympics is now on and there was a fervour for news of the football at the Euros from my international academic comrades at the Greenland camp; so my blog this time shall be suitably international! The station is Danish led but with many nations involved in the research and I am considering when I return to Copenhagen University later in the year where many of them are based to get them along to the Klampenborg races there for a social reunion:
My fellow Voice of the Races Amy Weaver; a Newmarket based trainer; currently is launching another raid on Denmark so follow her blog here to see how she gets on:
The main news in which I was interested while away is how Frankel and Black Caviar did at Royal Ascot!
My photo of Frankel at Royal Ascot last year:
As I had no net access because we are limited to station email only; I couldn’t wait to get to Kangerlussuaq to see the video of Frankel winning on Racing UK. It sounds like it was very impressive – though it should have been at odds of 1/10 !!!
The unbeaten Australian filly Black Caviar was also of course a feature of the Ascot showcase and I heard that a great many Australians turned up to support her . She only just clung on to victory in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes after being eased; but added another victory to her run.
Unfortunately she sustained an injury which means she has now returned to Australia so I shan’t get to see her later in the season as I had hoped. But Frankel and this year’s 2000 Guineas and Derby winner from Ireland - Camelot - are horses I do hope to see later in the summer. Will Camelot go for the triple crown and add the St.Leger to his classic victories?
I shall also be looking in August to see what there is in the way of fashion competitions at the races. My own form figures read ‘10310’ in the 5 best dressed competitions I have entered so far; so will be looking forward to trying to get another win under my belt! I shall certainly be glad to have a day or two dressed in more feminine wear than the work clothing I have been wearing in the Arctic! The temperature has ranged between -9 and -25 below zero; though it was just -1 one day – which felt like a heatwave!
My field work involved taking ice core samples for my own research; and also helping with other duties at the station. That has included a range of tasks from keeping the buildings free of snow drifts; to moving scientific equipment, to helping other scientists gather data and samples; to my turn on the cooking rota! It has been a great experience to meet scientists from all over the world as it is a really International co-operation; though it is led by the Danes. I had a couple of days in the south in Kangerlussuaq before being flown the three hours north to the camp by USAF Hercules which lands on skis. In Kangerlussuaq we also had some research to conduct at the Russell Glacier; which involved taking luminescence samples. The glacier is quite spectacular and we also saw some reindeer near to there.
The morning of my departure from Heathrow I managed to do a shoot for Bete Noire Jewellery and Pippa Eastman millinery; so it was a quick change from 1940’/50’s style to my attire for the arctic. Bete Noire’s iconic tattoo inspired heart and banner custom pieces are all the rage with the rockabilly and high fashion scenes; but now she has been doing some pieces custom made with horses names and colours and also slogans such as ‘Fast Filly’ and ‘Dark Horse’; or even one’s own name. Have a look at Bete's site:
Then Pippa Eastman who every year does a few incredible hats for customers Royal Ascot bound I shot these two beautiful pieces for. Pippa herself ventured to Royal Ascot this year in the Royal Enclosure and I was glad to hear she had a wonderful time. She is going to be making me a really special hat to wear later in the season which should turn a few heads! Watch this space!
You can contact Pippa for her designs bespoke or hire here:
Royal Ascot this year did a wonderful fashion photoshoot this year to promote the event which was done by photographer Simon Proctor and featured some amazing designers including Vivienne Westwood and in this one Antonio Berardi with millinery by Stephen Jones:
You can see the whole shoot here on Royal Ascot’s facebook page:
Ascot fashions also featured prominently in Harrod's window display earlier in the summer
Just prior to my flight from Heathrow to Greenland via Copenhagen; my partner David and I met up with Graham Sharpe who is the media relations officer from bookmakers William Hill; and we had an interesting chat. I had been a media relations officer myself for the Royal Geographical Society so I am looking forward to catching up with Graham and his wife again soon. Graham had ordered three images from David for which I modelled; and which feature a dark narrative of gambling and skulduggery in the betting ring set in the 1940’s.
Graham has also written a great book which is a great guide for gentlemen and gentlewomen to working out your returns from complex bets like Yankees so you are not the victim of bookmaker skullduggery youself!!
My blog this time has something of an International feel as I heard Liam Treadwell and Sam Thomas have been riding at Pardubice in the Czech Republic. Liam has been riding a horse called Trezor who he has qualified for the Velka Pardubicka with an emphatic win. This puts Liam in with a very real chance of becoming the first jockey to win the English Grand National and the Velka Pardubicka for well over a hundred years. One of the last to do it was Count Karel Kinski; who famously had an affair with the mother of Winston Churchill and you can read about in my previous blog entry. Liam of course won the Grand National on Mon Mome at odds of 100/1; and Trezor has much shorter odds for the race in October. You can keep up to date with Czech racing news and views here on the excellent Paddock Revue site. Here; Cestmir Olehla the Czech trainer explains why he has booked Sam Thomas and Liam Treadwell too:
In addition before travelling to the Arctic I attended a Press Conference in Kensington High St for the World Arabian Horse Racing festival which is this year a truly international event. The jockeys competing in the Ladies challenge sponsored by come from many nations; and it was very nice to meet them at the conference. You can see them here just as the lots were drawn for the horses they would ride at Newbury.
A good day for the Royal Cavalry of Oman and also for Veronika Aske and Norway; winning the fifth leg of the HH Shaikha
Fatima bint Mubarak Ladies World Championship (IFAHR) in great style!
I was unable to attend the raceday but here was the result:
1 MUHAL (OM) (10) (72) 9 10-7 Veronika Aske
(Mr S Al Hakmani) Royal Cavalry Of Oman
Sire: Amer (QA) / Dam: Babelia (FR)
2 Nk ANDALEEB (OM) (12) (71) 8 10-6 Jane Foley
(Mr S Al Hakmani) Royal Cavalry Of Oman
Sire: Newday (FR) / Dam: Gagarka
3 4.5 SILAAH (4) (72) 4 10-7 Manuela Slamanig
(Mrs G M Duffield) H.H. Sheikh Hamdan Bin R Al Maktoum
Sire: Fadjik / Dam: Danise
The Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies World Championship has jockeys from many nations taking part and here are some to watch for - many of course also ride in throughbred racing; so keep an eye out for them:
The HH Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Flat Racing Festival is organized by the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority, Emirates Racing Association (ERA) and the Abu Dhabi Sports Council in association with Emirates Arabian Horse Society and IFAHR, supported by General Authority for Youth and Sports and Fegentri with Emirates airlines as the official carrier. Sponsors are Invest AD, Al Rashid Investment, Areej Al Ameerat, Mauzan, Al Awani General Enterprises, Kabale, the UAE’s General Women’s Union, the HH Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Sports Academy, Abu Dhabi International Hunting and Equestrian Exhibition 2012, Wathba Stud Farm and Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club.
The lady Jockeys race in the final on November 11 this year when the Shaikha Fatima Bint Mubarak Ladies Championship (IFAHR) final round will be held at the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club.
At the conference my name was entered into a draw to win a trip to Abu Dhabi for the final leg of the challenge; and to my amazement it was first to be pulled out! So from the cold climes of the Arctic I shall be venturing to the heat of Abu Dhabi in the Autumn to cover that! This is really special for me because I think the Arabian horses are amazing and it will be great to see them in their natural environment. I hope I will be able to see some falconry from horseback while I am there too.
I am a huge fan of the band ‘The Sisters of Mercy’ ; and the video of ‘Dominion’ was one of the things that inspired my fascination with the Middle East and particularly Petra in Jordan where I worked for a while; and of course those beautiful Arabian horses :
So I am looking forward to seeing them race in Abu Dhabi. Another interesting connection with racing and The Sisters of Mercy comes via my favourite song of theirs; ‘Emma’.
It is of course a cover of the Hot Chocolate song; and singer Errol Brown is the racing connection. He owned horses in the 1990’s with Jenny Pitman; of which ‘Gainsay’ was the most well known; winning at Cheltenham and running in the Grand National . Errol is now a member of the Jenny and Mark Pitman Racing Club ; a fantastic way to get involved in racehorse ownership:
They have horses in training with Ian Williams; Jonjo O’Neill and Charlie Longsdon. Jenny herself of course was a wonderful trainer and the first lady trainer to win the Grand National with Corbiere. My partner David and brother Adrian Dent sponsored another of her great horses ‘Mudahim’ which won the Irish Grand National:
The first racing related event I have attended since my return was the South Wales Point to Point dinner dance. It was really good to see Isabel Tompsett bravely attend and present the trophies at the event after her dreadful accident last year. Progress for her has been slow but sure and there is still a hard journey ahead of her; but her courage will hopefully see her through to further improvement.
At the dance; I saw Rob Williams who I featured in my very first blog entry who was then riding at Goodwood in one of his first rides under rules. Since then his career has been looking very promising; and he rode a winner at Cheltenham a few months back! I asked him about that race:
It was also good to catch up with other jockeys and trainers and owners on the South Wales circuit such as Simon and Angela Clarke who own Diddle’Em who has won two races this season; and Nick Williams who rode him on one of those occasions.
In my last blog I wrote about how it is possible to go riding on the beach at Ogmore with Nick Williams as they have a trekking centre.
I notice they had a famous visitor to do just that recently!
Yes; it is Welsh actor Rhys Ifans; who really enjoyed his experience riding down there and has become good mates with Nick. Rhys’ latest role is as nemesis ‘the Lizard’ in ‘The Amazing Spiderman’. This time Spiderman is played by British actor Andrew Garfield; though in the other Spiderman movies the character was played by Toby Maguire who also portrayed jockey Red Pollard in ‘Seabiscuit’. Ryhs Ifans is legendary in my current city of Swansea of course for his role in ‘Twin Town’. No doubt Nick Williams will get him to the races at some point!
Another actor recently finished filming a super hero movie with a keen interest in horse racing is Kevin Costner.
Costner plays Jonathan Kent; Superman’s father in the movie ‘Man of Steel’ . I am a fan of super hero movies as followers of my blog will be aware; so am eagerly awaiting this one. If you haven’t seen Batman: the Dark Knight Rises do so; it is exceptional! The new Superman movie will be released in 2013 but US racing fans will be very familiar with Kevin Costner’s narrative in “Laffitt: All About Winning” which is about Panama jockey Laffit Pincay jnr.
I am eager to see this documentary as Laffit came from very humble beginnings in Panama to become a top jockey.
Another great result this summer for the international dimension of racing was provided when Peter Schiergen trained German mare Danedream to win Ascot’s King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at their big July fixture. Schiergen was five times champion jockey himself in Germany and has now become the first German trainer to win this highly prestigious international race. Danedream will now go forward to the Prix De L’Arc de Triomphe to attempt to repeat her victory in last year’s race.
At time of writing I note that Frankel is entered to run at Goodwood on Wednesday and I do hope that foreign visitors to the UK this month will take a day off the Olympic sport on offer and sample a proper British garden party at Glorious Goodwood. On display will be some of the best British fashion; and of course the mighty ‘Frankel’ . Frankel runs in the iconic colours of Saudi Arabian owner Prince Khaled Abdullah; is ridden by Irish jockey Tom Queally; and trained by Englishmen Henry Cecil; so I suppose that would be a problem for horse racing to be included in the Olympic Games!
Many racing fans will also be watching the equestrian events in the Olympic games with Zara competing; so here is wishing the team the best of luck. It was also interesting to see Overturn who finished second in the Champion hurdle and ran at Royal Ascot carrying the Olympic torch back in May at Chester racecourse with Jason Maguire. I am rather a fan of Overturn; and backed the forecast in the champion hurdle at Cheltenham with winner 'Rock on Ruby' ; so it was nice when I returned from the Arctic to see David had just finished his painting of that race; appropriately titled "Let's Rock: they turn for home; the Champion Hurdle Cheltenham"
Well I didn’t expect to feature a racing angle on my latest modelling job which was for a performance art installation at the private view of UK based Italian photographer Marco Sanges whose work has been featured in Vogue and for Agent Provocateur campaigns.
For the private view of ‘Phantasmagoria’ I was to join other models dressed in surreal costume on a giant chess board. I wore white make up; a black cloak; venetian beaked and feathered mask, Agent Provocateur basque, suspenders, heels and gloves; and an incredible millinery creation from Pippa Eastman. The event; and exhibition which runs until mid September, is at the Proud Gallery and venue complex at Camden lock stable Market. It was a former horse hospital for the horses that pulled canal barges; but has now undergone a dramatic transformation into shopping, burlesque and music venue, gallery and bars. The stables however remain intact and have been converted into chill out areas; and have been named after famous racehorses including Phar Lap (AUS) Desert Orchid (GB), and Seabiscuit (USA)!
A visitor to the exhibition I was keen to meet up with again was Beki Cowey who I met some time ago at the Cleveland point to point; her mother is a racehorse owner and breeder. Beki shares similar taste in rock n roll music to myself and my friend Anna Kujanpaa who also came to the event and with whom we stayed while in London . Anna Kujanpaa from Sweden now living in London who has a stall with her own designs and vintage fashions sometimes in Camden; and is eager to come racing; so I am looking at some dates in August for a potential day out. Beki ; who is a great photographer herself and who specialises in rock music photography; will hopefully join us too so looking for a good race meet we can all go to. Beki's mum is Pauline Cowey who owns Thatchmire Stud; and who is part owner with Panther Racing of the popular grey chaser 'Boris the Blade'.
Here he is isn't he gorgeous?
Beki also takes pictures of horses; and I love this wonderful image she took of a 2 year old thoroughbred in the snow; entitled 'Snow Dancing'
Unfortunately it took me an hour to get my make up and costume off and get changed so I missed Beki on the night; but was told she and Timo Kaltio of the Cherry Bombz; Johnny Thunders, Cheap and Nasty and now the awesome 'Tango Pirates'; who she also brought along, both found the exhibition inspiring. Timo is from Finland:
Here is some of Beki's Rock photography on her Flickr site Beki takes Pictures:
Some really great rock n roll documentary photography there! Just a hint of her dynamite black and white images:
Anna's partner Steve Finn shares a huge love of punk music with my partner David and came along to The Society of Equestrian artists exhibition at the Mall Galleries two years ago with ourselves and Richard Dunwooody and a few other friends so has been keen also to go to the races some time. Steve's fave socer team is West Bromwich Albion so it will be quite nice for him to attend a sport with a few more exciting moments! Just kidding Steve! I know he was impressed with David's futurist/deco oil panels of Kauto Star and Denman. They were subsequently bought by a big Iron Maiden fan so I guess you could say David's paintings rock!
Well that’s all for now; it has been a while since I last went racing ; so I hope to get to the races sometime in the next couple of weeks so watch for my next blog! I am off to Iceland up on a volcano on fieldwork in September so getting a much needed racing fix before I go will be a priority! Well at Camden I bought a beautiful vintage dress for a song and it needs an outing to the races soon; possibly Fontwell or Brighton in August followed by a night's rock n roll in London so it will serve both purposes with a Pippa Eastman hat for racing; then bit of leather, an Ace cafe badge, and the Bete Noir jewellery! for evening!
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
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- Paul Wright…
- Atrhur Hendry…
What would you say your favorite thing to do in the entire world would be?