British television presenter and conservationist Anneka Svenska wore what is thought to be the largest hat in racing history to the Royal Ascot meeting on Tuesday.
The astounding hat with more than 1400 red roses to signify racehorse deaths since 2007, towers a staggering one foot above the wearer’s head, down the neck and finishes by cascading to the ground for well over six feet.
Designed and hand crafted by celebrity milliner and Britain’s Next Top Model judge Louis Mariette, the hat made the front cover of Britain’s Telegraph newspaper, and also featured in many other publications including the Times, the Daily Mail, the Huffington Post, the Ecologist, Kent online, the Argus and many more.
The hat is hand stitched in black velvet and topped with hundreds of individually hand painted, red, roses to signify the 1400+ racehorses who have died at British races since 2007, (according to The Race Horse Deathwatch website).
Svenska, the daughter-in-law of racehorse owner Gary Tanaka, is urging an end to national hunt (jumps) racing, and is behind a ban on the whip in racing. She said that, surprisingly, Ascot ranked as Britain’s most dangerous Flat (turf) venue.
“As a child I innocently dreamed of wearing the largest hat to Ascot and when I grew up, it happened!” Sevnska said
“While wearing previous hats, I have never placed a bet, supported the actual racing or even walked down to the track, however I decided last year to refrain from attending Ascot at all, as it was conveying the wrong message and I felt it was ethically wrong, especially as I work with animals. This year I have decided to return to use the large amount of publicity I receive in order to raise standards for horses at tracks all over the UK and do some good.”
An online petition calling for “common-sense measures” for the safety of horses at Ascot Racecourse has a target of 120,000 supporters, and is already at just over 112,000 signatures.