The races are yet to be run but Cheltenham already has a winner: veteran racehorse Morestead is without a doubt the Festival’s best dressed horse. In honour of the Festival, Morestead sported a three-piece Harris Tweed suit complete with shirt, tie and flat cap.
Tweed is synonymous with Cheltenham — statistician Dr Geoff Ellis worked out that enough tweed is worn at the Festival to stretch all the way from the Gloucestershire racecourse to Ireland — so bookmakers William Hill thought of marking the start of the Festival by commissioning a tweed outfit for a horse.
It took four weeks and more than 18 metres of tweed — ten times as much as you’d need for a human suit — for designer Emma Sandham-King and her team to create the unusual suit. “It has been one of the biggest challenges that I have faced in my career as a designer,” explains Sandham-King, who trained with Alexander McQueen. However, she adds, the horse was a natural about modelling. “Some models can be real divas, but Morestead was calm and a pleasure to work with.”
Tweed is back into fashion and Sandham-King believes that this year’s Cheltenham Festival will see the most tweed worn since the 1960s. One spectator joining the trend is Sir Anthony McCoy. The multiple Cheltenham Gold Cup champion wore his very won tweed suit to ride Morestead ahead of the Festival.
“I have many fond memories of racing at Cheltenham Festival amongst the sea of onlooking, tweed-wearing racegoers,” says Sir Anthony. “I’ll be watching from the side-lines for the first time this year and rather than strapping on my jockey silks, I’ll be joining the punters and hopefully tipping up a few winners to bash the bookies.”
Images by Tim Anderson, courtesy of William Hill