Chester milliner designs hat to mark 480 years of racing in the city

Chester milliner Rachel Dawson has created a commemorative hat to celebrate a landmark birthday for Chester Racecourse. Rachel will showcase her creation – designed to mark 480 years of racing at Chester – when she judges the highly-anticipated Style Stakes Competition at the SportPesa Ladies’ Day this Saturday.

Rachel, who is known for making hats to order, has taken a departure from her usual style to create a crown and brim hat – with a Chester twist!

On Saturday 31 August she will wear her hat when she judges the ‘Style Stakes’ contest to find the best-dressed racegoers at the SportPesa Ladies’ Day at Chester Racecourse. Plus, Rachel will design a bespoke hat for the competition runner-up to wear for Ladies’ Day at next year’s May Fest, with hospitality included.

The unveiling of the hat follows hot on the heels of Chester being awarded a Guinness World Record title this year for being the oldest operating course in the world.

Explaining the hat’s design, Rachel comments: “I used the racecourse’s colour palette as a base and added more colour by sewing hospitality badges from this year’s race season into the base. Each race fixture is represented, while the colours and angular positioning – both above and beneath the base – provide a contrast.

“For the horses, I used laser-cut Perspex. They emulate a race in action around the tight 1 mile and 1-furlong track on the Roodee.”

Rachel has included a badge-style angular corsage from this year’s Boodles May Festival Ladies’ Day, picked to represent the femininity of the piece.

Rachel adds: “The hat took me a week to make, and the most challenging part was making the design unusual enough without it being outlandish – and also ensuring it was wearable. It is weighty but a headband has been sewn into the brim, so it stays in place.

“I wanted to create something specific to Chester by tying heritage to the innovative nature of the racecourse. The hat is very different to what I would normally make.”

Rachel, who lives and works in the Chester area, is a big advocate for the racecourse, with horses in training at Manor House Stables, near Malpas. She and her husband regularly visit the course as both owners with runners, and as racegoers, and recently tied the knot at the course. Their horse, Al’s Memory, won the City Plate race in July 2013.

After the August 31 event, the commemorative hat will be displayed in Chester’s Entertainment Suite, where it will remain for the remainder of the season.

Stephanie Hughes, Head of Marketing at Chester Racecourse, comments: “What better way to celebrate our 480thbirthday than with this special hat, which nods to the history of the course and its future.

“Rachel has done an amazing job and we’re looking forward to her wearing it when she judges the Style Stakes competition later this month. We’re also delighted she’ll be designing a bespoke hat for the lucky runner-up in the contest.

“Rachel is a big supporter of the racecourse and it’s always a joy to see racegoers proudly wearing her stylish creations.”

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