The weather at Cheltenham this morning was very dull and overcast and very, very cold. I bumped into Eleri and her friends just after the gates opened at 10:30am. I wondered what the inspiration was for their outfits today. "Big fascinators and heels," I was advised.
"We don’t normally wear them," Eleri told me and also revealed that they were ‘Cheltenham Virgins’ attending the meeting for the first time ever today. I asked them why they came today. "To win money," they told me. I wondered about their betting technique. Some of the girls are betting on the colour of the jockey’s silks, one lady was going on horses' names and possibly the best-informed told me that she knows Felix De Giles and that she will be backing anything he is riding.
Next I met Elene who was wearing a very nice and eminently practical long tweed coat. Her fashion theme was "more practical than fashion". Elene is a regular racegoer and she owns and rides five horses, including an ex-racehorse. She lives near Stafford and races at Warwick and Uttoxeter on a regular basis. She told me that she is "more into racing than fashion". She appears to be a very astute judge, as she told me that she has backed Tidal Bay at 20/1 each way for the Gold Cup in Friday. When I spoke to Denis O’Regan last week, who rode Tidal Bay when he was attached to Howard Johnson, he specifically mentioned him as a live outsider for a place.
I then met two nice young ladies, Anna and Lynsey, one who of whom was wearing a very fetching pink sash. The told me that they were scouting for entries for the Ladies' Day Fashion Competition. They were particularly on the lookout for "big hats and big shoes". Prizes will be awarded for the Best Dressed Lady, the Lady with the Best Hat and the Lady with the Best Accessories.
They will all be judged by an eminent panel that includes the TV actress Claire Sweeney.
In the Guinness Village I met Helen, Amy and Charlotte from Worcester. They come to Ladies' Day every year and double-up with Ladies' Day at Royal Ascot. Fashions for the two days are slightly different and they had definitely dressed for the weather today.
Hannah, Georgina and Kate from Thornbury near Bristol were looking around the enclosure overlooked by the Guinness Stand. They had decided on a definite Cheltenham Festival theme for their fashion. "We wanted to avoid the tweed and didn’t want to look like we were at Ascot," they told me. "Tweed is to horsey for us."
They come to Cheltenham every year "not always to The Festival, we sometimes come on New Year’s Day". These girl’s certainly know the drill as they came up on the 09:15 train from Bristol to avoid the traffic.
They had a number of bets lined-up or the day including Beshabar in the opener and So Young in the Neptune. Of special interest to Hannah was Aiteen Thirtythree in the RSA, "It’s named after a really nice cheese that is made by Paul Barber who is one of the horse’s owners," she told me. You learn something new everyday.