Thousands descend on Newmarket for Ladies’ Day as July Festival gets underway

Newmarket Ladies Day 2015.

Newmarket Ladies Day 2015. - Credit: Gregg Brown

Racing has taken the back seat to the hats and dresses, despite a first race victory for Frankie Dettori.

The July Course is bathed in sunshine, with visitors coming from across the country to take in the atmosphere on the first day of the Moët and Chandon July festival.

Fashion is the first order of the day, from the extravagant outfits, with eye-watering price tags, to the tasteful ensembles that belie a more bank-account friendly approach.

Enjoying their first ever Ladies Day were a group of six Young Farmers from Saffron Walden.

All admitting they were dressing “on a budget”, their glamorous outfits ranged from hats made by siblings to dresses “begged, borrowed and stolen” from friends and family.

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Jess Juhl, wearing a hat created by a clearly talented sister and a dress from her mother, said: “It is our first time at Ladies Day.

“It is a good day out, but it is not just about the outfits, we are going to be betting as well.”

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Fellow Ladies Day first-timers were Jasmine Wing and Amie Ashley.

Journalism student Jasmine, who was back visiting her hometown of Newmarket, said: “I have moved to London but I come from Newmarket and thought it was a good excuse to have a day out and see the family.

“I have been to the races before, of course, but never experienced Ladies Day.”

Talking about her outfit, Amie said: “The hat is handmade and cost £12.50 from Ebay. The dress is Amy Childs, from TOWIE (The Only Way Is Essex), and cost £76 and I think the shoes are New Look. You really don’t have to spend that much.”

At the other end of wardrobe spectrum was Claire Swallow, who hired her elaborate Peter Bettley hat from Dress to Impress, but the rest of the outfit was not as financially frugal.

She said: “The dress is from the Victoria Beckham and cost £1,700, my handbag is Chanel and cost £3,500.”

However, Claire, from Windsor, did save money on the shoes. She said: “My shoes are Prada and cost £800.

“You have to have fun really, and I live in Windsor now, it is what the day is all about.”

Her friends were not in entire agreement with Claire. Pip Keyes from Cambridge said: “For me it is more about the betting and the day out. The racing is better than the outfits.”

While Claire and her hat drew in every press photographer within eyeshot friend Emma Scarrow, from Ely, was more concerned that they had not placed a bet on the first race yet. “It is all about the betting,” she said.

For many punters, it was the “people watching” that took precedent over betting, racing and even drinking.

Donna Eade, from Lincolshire, said: “They might as well not bother with the racing and betting, it is all about the people watching.”

Suzannah Hale, who was at her fourth Ladies Day, agreed. “It is all about the outfits,” she added.

The day was also a memorable one for horseracing veteran Frankie Dettori, who 30 years since his first race at Newmarket, won the Bahrain Trophy. The July festival continues until Saturday, with Gentleman’s Day tomorrow and the Darley July Cup Day at the weekend.

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