Wednesday 18th of September 2019
News

Perks of the job

I don’t expect you readers to remember my last entry for The Gaitpost, writes Eleanore Kelly. It was about the important partnership between Ascot Racecourse and Longines. A salute to Longines for their allegiance to all equestrian sport and continued association with Ascot after ten years as official Timekeeper and a sponsor of the iconic racecourse.

Frankie Dettori leaps from Journey after winning The Qipco British Champions Fillies Mares Stakes at Ascot Racecourse © Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

Frankie Dettori leaps from Journey after winning The Qipco British Champions Fillies Mares Stakes at Ascot Racecourse © Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

Funnily enough, Longines did remember it. As a result, I was invited to join them as a VIP guest at the QIPCO British Champions Day at Ascot. 

After mucking out and exercising a couple of horses, I departed the yard dressed in my finery. The process took four outfit changes, a shellac manicure and enough Chanel No 5 to kill a cat. A necessity these days to remove the last traces of “horsey lady” from my person. 

© Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

© Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

On arrival at Ascot for one of the finest days racing of the year, excitement set in. Racing Post in hand (largely for pomp of course), I was whisked up to box number 409 by a helpful steward. Situated some 50 yards on the winning side of the finish post, towering high on the fourth floor, it was the best seat in the house. As the waiter handed me a glass of Bollinger Rose, the world of wellies and wheelbarrows seemed a world away. Right then, I loved my job and Longines too.

© Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

© Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

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The other guests included Longines enthusiasts who had invested in a number of watches. When I asked the gentleman sitting next to me why he chose Longines over other luxury watch makers, he responded by rolling up his sleeve to display a beautifully elegant but understated time piece. He explained:

“I’ve had this for 50 years.”

We enjoyed a lunch of lobster salad, fillet of beef and a highly complex chocolate “deconstruction” which was devoured in possibly 1/100th of the time it took to make it. This was followed by a vast cheese board and washed down with exquisite white burgundy, claret and more champagne. Each course was punctuated by one of five thrilling races for what was the finale of the British flat racing season. Naturally as the members of box 209 became steadily sozzled, the amount betted on each race increased.

It was an all-star cast in terms of the jockeys riding. Ryan Moore, Frankie Dettori to name a few. My favourite winner was a magnificent steed called The Tin Man. First drawn by his catchy name but I picked him out from the paddock, with his noble head and kind eye. He fought a hard race and I came away £35 better off.

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Longines supports a great number of the most prestigious racing fixtures around the world. From the Night Turf race in St Moritz to the Kentucky Derby, the Japan Cup, the Melbourne Cup Carnival and of course the greatest of them all, Royal Ascot. So when Longines Vice President, Juan-Carlos Capelli came to our box to thank us for coming, it added to the sense of occasion. 

As well as being one of the most prominent global sponsors of horse racing and equestrian fixtures, Longines host or are part of a number of awards ceremonies. They award several prizes in recognition of excellence in all things equestrian. Whether horse, jockey, race or public figure, they recognise that they all have a role to play in making equestrian sport breath-taking and unique.

This is more than just a light-hearted puff piece about a jolly day out. It’s a salute to a long-standing sponsor. Longines have been supporting racing and equestrian sport since 1881. In an unsettled economic climate with the demise of interest in this industry, such financial backing and enthusiasm is the very life-blood we need. Without sponsorship, the sport would not exist as it does. 

So thank you Longines for your unrelenting support of the racing and equestrian worlds. Thank you for seeing the value and beauty in these wonderful, heroic sports as we do. And thank you Longines for contributing to a great day out for me and the thousands people who turned out to watch the QIPCO British Champions Day at Ascot. Long may it last.

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