Gina Harding is a TV presenter specialising in horse racing and everything that goes with it including the fashion covering Royal Ascot alongside Gok Wan for Channel 4. So who better to talk about the QIPCO Guineas Festival and the racing fashion this Bank Holiday weekend? Here’s what Gina had to say when we caught up with her ahead of the start of the British flat racing season.
The QIPCO Guineas Festival is the pinnacle for young racehorses hosted every year at Newmarket’s Rowley Mile Racecourse, the Centre Court of Horse Racing, the Twickenham of the thoroughbred industry and the top of any racing fan’s annual wish list. As well as top class action on the track, the weekend marks the start of the British sporting summer and provides a perfect backdrop to sip champagne, enjoy a flutter, cheer home a winner or two and of course, dress the part.
As a broadcaster, I am lucky enough to attend some of the world’s best race meetings with Guineas weekend front and centre among them and one of my favourite events of the year. From assessing the form and chatting to trainers and jockeys to sampling afternoon tea and interviewing celebrity guests, my role on race day certainly keeps me on my toes and dressing for every eventuality is a must.
Forget poring over form books to pick a few winners, picking a winning outfit is a far trickier task. Deciding what to wear takes up an unhealthy amount of my time but with a few years of experience now under my belt and a generous share of faux pas along the way, I’ve picked up a few winning tips.
Footwear For The Races
The quest to look smart but practical without forgoing the glamour of the races is never an easy one and with long stints spent on my feet or pacing the racecourse, making sure you’re well shod is the number one priority. Having been caught out on one particular occasion sporting a pair of four inch stilettos before being asked to track a rather long-striding horse on the half mile walk from stable block to saddling enclosure, I definitely learnt my lesson the hard way. It’s no surprise wedges or block heels are always top of my shopping list and packing a pair of flats certainly doesn’t go amiss.
Hats & Headwear For The Races
Racing provides the perfect opportunity to go all out with a hat or headpiece and there are so many great British milliners to pick from. An ideal way to keep your hair in place and a real opportunity to finish an outfit off perfectly, I love a boater for the Summer months (Lisa Tan has some great ones) or a neat headpiece (Camilla Rose has one in every shade) to avoid scaring the horses when I get too close.
Although sunglasses on camera are a no no, I usually have a pair of fail safe Ray-Bans floating around in my hand bag alongside a Racing Post, spare shoes, extra layers and large can of hairspray. Needless to say its usually a pretty large bag!
Go-To Fashion Designers For The Races
I have a few go-to designers for my dresses, coats and millinery – I don’t think you can go wrong with Claire Mischevani and Suzannah if you want to go all out, while Zara is always my go-to for bright coats and practical trouser suits. Pair with millinery by Jane Taylor, Awon Golding or Lisa Tan for a fashion-forward but always race day appropriate look.
Fashion Extras For The Races
Although I’d like to follow my own advice and get organised early this year for all the big summer racing events, I am definitely always a last-minute grab and go person so packing the car with a Mac from Zara for the inevitable summer drizzle, thermals from Uniqlo for the chillier days and a spare Panama or Layla Leigh Fedora usually tides me over.
And because the QIPCO Guineas Festival ends with the Aprés Racing party on the Hyperion Lawn this year – with DJ Reggie Yates on the decks on Saturday and beat boxing trio DUKE taking the stage on Sunday – I’d advise popping a pair of flats in your bag like Love Taylor Blake’s super-stylish ballet pumps.
Then again, after a day out at the races as a presenter or a spectator, kicking off your heels and hitting the dance floor is always the best way to end the day, whether you’re amongst the winners or not.
Get Gina’s Look For The Races
My three favourite racing outfits for every eventuality are:
A Suzannah Jumpsuit with Rachel Trevor Morgan pale pink pillbox – perfect for a thundery day at Goodwood!
A Claire Mischevani dress with Camilla Rose headpiece and the trusty flats for hosting duties in Qatar.
High street heroes of Topshop pink trousers, Zara coat and a Sally Ann Proven headpiece for a slightly chillier summer day on Newmarket’s July course.
About Gina Harding
Cambridge graduate Gina Harding is a presenter specialising in horse racing and is a well-known face on Sky’s racing channel At The Races experienced in anchoring racing from the studio, presenting a magazine news show and working as a live reporter on site. In addition to radio and television, Gina is an accomplished public speaker and brand ambassador for the Fairway to Furlong events series and host of their annual Royal Ascot & Cheltenham Preview Evenings. In 2012 Gina fulfilled a lifelong dream to ride at the Cheltenham Festival and finished 5thin the St Patrick’s Derby aboard the David Pipe trained On Khee, raising over £10,000 for Cancer Research UK. She has also twice competed in Glorious Goodwood’s celebrity ladies charity race, the Magnolia Cup.