Building a horse: All it takes is 10 humans


A giant racehorse with a difference has taken to the hallowed turf of Britain’s Ascot Racecourse to celebrate the upcoming Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup, a team competition for international jockeys.

The artists prepare for the final image.
The artists prepare for the final image. © Ian Gavan/Getty Images

Painted in elaborate body art, the 6ft figure is made up of 10 contortionists. It took seven hours to create the striking image of a racehorse ridden by German jockey Stefanie Hofer passing the winning post at the famous racecourse.

Hofer will be making her debut at the Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup this year as part of The Girls team, alongside Canadian jockey Emma-Jayne Wilson and Britain’s Hayley Turner.

Ascot Racecourse enlisted a team of talented contortionists courtesy of Scarlett Entertainment, and used make-up artists Civilised Mess to transform the human bodies using detailed animal artwork. It took the make-up artists five hours of intricate work to fully complete the body paintwork. Civilised Mess has previously created designs for Cirque Le Soir and Slamboree.

Now in its 14th year, the Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup, on Saturday, August 9, is the only team-format raceday in the UK. Groups of friends and families turn out in their thousands to pledge their allegiance to one of four teams of top international jockeys seeking victory by collectively acquiring the most number of points for their team through success across the six-race card.

The four teams are Great Britain & Ireland, Europe, the Rest of the World and The Girls.

Stefanie Hofer.
Stefanie Hofer. © Ian Gavan/Getty Images

Other stars of the track to watch out for include Frankie Dettori and Andrea Atzeni riding for Europe, and South African superstar S’manga Khumalo who has ridden to prominence in his homeland recently and will be making his UK debut at the event.

Racing is followed by a free evening concert for racegoers, Ascot Live!, hosted by TV personality and former BBC Radio 1 DJ Vernon Kay and featuring The Stars From The Commitments, Scouting for Girls, B*Witched, Bjorn Again, and Chesney Hawkes.

Ascot Racecourse’s Nick Smith, Head of Communications and International Racing, said Ascot wanted to do something different to celebrate its renewed partnership with Dubai Duty Free, which has extended their support of the Shergar Cup by becoming sole sponsor from this year.

“The acrobats and Steffi performed miracles to produce this pose and we hope everyone will agree that it is fascinating to see them transformed into the image of a winning racehorse passing the post at Ascot.”

Advance grandstand admission for the Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup is available from £20. Premier Admission from £35. More information:

A team of ten acrobats form the shape of a racehorse crossing the winning post ridden by Stefanie Hofer.
A team of ten acrobats form the shape of a racehorse crossing the winning post ridden by Stefanie Hofer. © Ian Gavan/Getty Images


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