With The Cheltenham Festival fast approaching, we caught up with Dolly Maude to ask her what her top racing tips are for surviving Gold Cup week.
Dolly, tell us about your history in the equestrian world…
Well I worked in racing from the age of 13, for Tommy Smith in Sydney where I had a flat licence and then for Tom George, David Nicholson and Nigel Twiston-Davies back here. More recently I have been riding show horses for Phil Shield and Caroline Mackness and we were lucky enough to win 2015 Ladies Hunter at Horse of the Year.
To earn a crust we had a rehab yard for a long time where we brought horses back into training from local trainers and further a field who had been injured or jaded. Moreover we broke in loads of babies and foaled mares as well. To say it was a busy time would be an understatement!
During The Festival, what will we find in your handbag?
Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour cream obviously, Molecule O2, a unique fragrance, my phone and some paracetamol…Keep it simple.
Can you give us some survival racing tips?
Always wear more clothes than you think you will need. Layer well. Cheltenham Racecourse is generally 2 degrees colder than anywhere else.
What are your outfit do’s and don’t’s?
Don’t wear new shoes and do wear a hat. Blue and green is meant to be unlucky in racing, but they are my racing colours so I don’t really subscribe to that.
What to wear – on a budget and on a spree?
If you have a good overcoat, what you wear underneath is irrelevant! Hat, shoes and handbag should match…to a point. Don’t forget your gloves! Mulberry always works well at the races great overcoats. I tend to get all my clothes from Sue Parkinson in Broadway and Cirencester and my hats from the Cotswold Milliner aka Bridget Robbins, also near Broadway. Top tip, don’t forget your thermals!
Where is good to eat and drink at the Racecourse?
There is always a good view from the panoramic. The Arkle Bar is traditionally where everyone used to meet. The Members Bar has a great atmosphere and never miss a chance to check out the betting ring.
Do you tend to go out after the Races – any top tips?
We always go to No. 131 on the Friday night for dinner and if we are still standing The Tavern for music afterwards but getting out of the racecourse is a drama at the best of times so we book a late table and party at the racecourse first. If you have plans, try and leave before the last race or if not 2 hours after! There is often a band playing in the tented village which is a great laugh and worth a visit.
What is your favourite day during The Festival and why?
I love the first day! The excitement of what the week has in store and seeing all my old friends. It really is an annual reunion.
Can you give us some racing tips for betting? Do you pick based on jockey and trainer or sometimes the colour of the silks? Some say you should always back a grey!?
Having always been involved in racing, married to a jockey and owning a valeting business, we have never been allowed to bet which is a great excuse. But if I were to tip, I do analyse it all quite carefully. I know a lot of the horses anyway and live directly next door to Nige Twiston Davies so I follow all their horses.
It is always a combination of the horse, the jockey and the trainer. If a top trainer doesn’t have the top jockey on his horse, then someone thinks it’s not going to win. There are so many variables though that if you are a novice I would stick to the name you like and the colours you fancy…it really is that much of a gamble jump racing!
For more tips on all things food and drink during The Festival or to book a table at a Lucky Onion restaurant…
Take a look at our Insider’s Guide to Gold Cup Week with The Lucky Onion.