Race Day Style | Down Royal Racecourse

Emer Dooris and Jeff Meredith - my Race Day companions!
[AD] paid collaboration with Down Royal Racecourse
Saturday saw me glam up on a trip to Ladies Day at Down Royal Racecourse, just outside Belfast. It was the second day of the Summer Festival of Racing and I was excited to see all the style - there was a prize fund worth £3,500 for the winner and finalist in the Best Dressed competition. 

Despite living in Northern Ireland for 24 years, this was my first time ever going to Ladies Day  -no excuse for that given I'm a Kildare girl brought up a stone's throw from Punchestown and Naas racecourses. I'm a big horse racing fan and could sit all day watching these beautiful animals perform so adding in the style-watching, makes it the perfect day. Knowing it's so handy to get there now means I'm not going to miss it again.

I always think the races is a chance to wear something a bit more edgy than you would, say to a wedding so I opted for animal print with black accessories. It's definitely quite autumn winter looking but I was guided by the autumnal weather that had dogged every other weekend in June here in Ireland. As it turned out, we had the most amazing day so I could have worn something more summery but I didn't because I am in love with this dress - a Ganni number picked up in the Net a Porter sale. My hat, bag and shoes are from local company Franklins. I added the feathers to my hat myself....I wanted to bring some of the colour of the dress onto my head so I ordered them from eBay late one night and they ended up being the perfect colour.
Dress - Ganni (wearing the 38 which is about a 10/12 - bought myself)
Shoes, Bag, Hat - Franklins (gifted)
Jewellery - Jack Murphy Jewellers (loaned to me for the day)

And here's a close up of some of the sparkle that Jack Murphys trusted me with. The watch is very reasonably priced at £79 and not unlike my own gold watch which I wear so much - I love the mix of black and gold.
Back to everyone else style and one strong trend on the day was a bold colour with lots of women wearing trousers - such a great choice for comfort. There were lots of hairband style headpieces too as people move away from full hats and indeed, quite a few women didn't wear anything in their hair and instead opted for an elegant up-style....
Lots of gorgeous neutrals, whites and creams too...
And of course, there was plenty of pattern and colour clashing. Polka dots were in abundance too!
There were three judges of best dressed and I didn't envy them their job. Louise Cooney, Catriona from Franklins and pictured below, Rebecca McKinney, personal stylist and presenter who was herself rocking some animal print in the form of an elegant snake print striped dress:
You could self enter the competition also so in total there were 200 entries, which after much deliberation, were whittled down to the final 10:
and in the end neutrals and the biggest hat at the event won the day..
The gorgeous Suzanne Gallagher from Sligo, best dressed at Down Royal Ladies Day 2019.

Suzanne picked up a prize worth £3000 from Jack Murphy Jewellers. This Newry based family owned jewellery business were main sponsors on the day and Suzanne chose a gorgeous sapphire and diamond ring as her prize. There was also a gift bag from Franklins, Tattinger champagne and Shortcross Gin for all the finalists.

I will admit to having some scepticism about best dressed competitions but being behind the scenes this time round, I was well impressed with the effort and time taken by all three judges to determine the final 10, and the winner. There was no favouritism at all. I'm not sure I'd want to enter it myself but as someone who loves to admire other people's outfits, I was in my element checking out the gorgeous combinations of designer, high street and home-made.

Of course, there was horse racing too....and hospitality. Emer, Jeff and I got the full VIP experience with access to the Shortcross Gin Lounge, a 3 course lunch, private bar and post race entertainment. But you could head out at any time to check out the totes, the parade ring and join the crowds on the main stand.

If you don't want to sit for lunch, you can book the Moscow Flyer Suite which has a more casual set up with soft seating and pedestal tables where you can enjoy light taster bowls of hot food served prior to racing and dessert and cheese tables open for grazing throughout the day.

There's also the option of having a private box for a smaller group or you could do what my husband did and pay £15 at the gate and kids go free. It was a real family day out for me because I travelled with my blog family (blog husband Jeff and blog sister Emer) and my real family (husband, 15 yo and 10yo twin girls) followed afterwards in time for the first race - and brought me home at the end. It was my kids first experience of the races and suffice to say, they've been talking about it since, not least the fact that they came away with £12.50 more than they arrived with..there goes my lesson to them about the futility of betting!

All told, a different and fun day out for everyone - you can read more about the hospitality packages on this link. Additionally, you can contact the team there to discuss using the facilities for team building events or corporate occasions and best of all, you can even host a wedding or family party at the venue (outside of race days), giving you access to on-site catering and staff, ensuring a smooth and hassle free occasion in the gorgeous countryside surroundings overlooking Down Royal Golf Course.

The next race fixture at Down Royal is an evening one on the 26th July. There are 6 more fixtures in total during the rest of 2019, including a Family Race Day on Saturday 31st August and the next Ladies Day on the 2nd November. Do you think I could get away with the same outfit again?!
Thanks to the team at Down Royal Race Course for inviting me along to experience the Summer Festival of Racing. My ticket was complimentary and I was paid for the time spent at the event and the coverage on my social media channels. Thanks for supporting the brands that support this blog - especially the local ones.




  1. Absolutely love your outfit Avril... that first pic of the three of you is brilliant! x

  2. Stunning, as ever!💗


I love reading your comments and will reply as soon as I can if you have a specific question. If for any reason, you are unable to leave a comment, just drop me an email at or leave a comment on the A Life to Style Facebook Page! Thank you xx

© A Life To Style | All rights reserved.
Blog Layout Created by pipdig