NAIL-BITING excitement, roaring crowds and top class jump-racing are what we have come to expect from Cheltenham Festival.
But for attendees at this year’s showpiece event, there will be one or two subtle changes from previous years.
Aside from the temporary Arkle stand, which has replaced the demolished A&R buildings ahead of a multi-million pound redevelopment, there are one or two other tweaks to the famous old venue.
Chief amongst them there will be a Fashion Zone set up to celebrate the best of male and female fashions throughout the week.
Based in a circular marquee in the tented village, it will include a catwalk with models, a Champagne bar and live jazz music.
Featuring fashion shows throughout the week, it has been designed as the go-to place for snappily-clad females on Ladies’ Day.
It’s a move welcomed by Gloucester’s fashion lovers, who are encouraging attendees to put some thought into their outfits.
Greg Piontek from Miss Silver, said: “We’ve been busy designing two dresses for the race week, which will go on sale on Saturday in our shops in Gloucester and Cheltenham.
“We have been inspired by the Mad Men television series which was set in the 1960s. We usually design dresses which are big but this time we decided to go for a pencil style dress. So we were inspired by the Man Men series but adding our own design twist.
“The dresses are very elegant. Many ladies goes to the races in big, over extravagant dresses but anything goes at the races and we have got an elegant pencil style outfit for sale. Everyone likes to feel unique and individual at such events.”
The fashion show idea comes courtesy of the Jockey Club’s new regional head of marketing Matthew Foxton-Duffy, who will be putting his stamp on this year’s festival.
“I think it’s a great idea,” said the 44-year-old, whose family is steeped in racing. He is the son of a racehorse trainer and the grandson of a bookie.
“A great part of Cheltenham festival has always been the amazing dresses on show on Ladies Day and throughout the whole week.
“But in the past I think Ladies Day has been something of a sideshow, and as a result it passed a lot of people by.
“Having the Fashion Zone will give it a home so people know where to come. It has got a really special VIP feel about it.
“Ladies will be able to come in and have a glass of champagne and have their picture taken. It should be great fun, but done in a really classy way.”
The Fashion Zone will be open throughout the week with models strutting down the catwalk promoting the very latest fashions. Later on each day there will be music from the prestigious Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club.
Then on Ladies Day, when female racegoers traditionally dress to the nines, a select few will be invited to walk the catwalk as part of the annual Best Dressed competition.