Wildlife Presenter Anneka Svenska wears LARGEST HAT IN RACING HISTORY to Royal Ascot
with over 1 Thousand BLOOD RED ROSES to symbolise equine deaths from horse racing
Tuesday the 14th of June saw British TV Conservationist & Wildlife Presenter Anneka Svenska sporting the largest hat IN HISTORY to Royal Ascot. Paparazzi and film makers clambered to photograph the hat, however Anneka was keen to make sure they first stopped to listen to the important message behind the creation – one which is being directed at all those involved in every sector of the racing industry.
Please watch the important film below to find out why the hat was made….
The astounding hat, which left race-goers transfixed, towers a staggering one foot above the wearer’s head, down the neck and finishes by cascading to the ground for well over 6ft.
It is hand stitched in black velvet and topped with hundreds of individually hand painted, red, roses to signify the 1400+ racehorses which have died at British races since 2007 (according to The Race Horse Deathwatch website) Designed and hand crafted by celebrity milliner & Britain’s Next Top Model Judge Louis Mariette, the creation is hoped to do its job of inspiring industry tongues to converse about how horse welfare standards can be improved at British racecourses.
“As a child I innocently dreamed of wearing the largest hat to Ascot and when I grew up, it happened! 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” – Anneka
People often just blame the steeplechase races for horse fatalities, but surprisingly Ascot has had its fair share of deaths, it actually ranks as Britain’s most dangerous Flat (turf) venue. In 2014, four horses died unbeknown to flamboyant racegoers: Case Statement died from a broken lower leg; Inchila and Sir Graham Wade suffered a fractured pelvis; and Tiger Cliff collapsed and died after the race. Two horses then died in 2015: Stravagante who was destroyed due to a fractured cannon-bone and King Edmund who fell and broke his neck.
Did you know that approximately one in every 37 horses who starts a season’s racing will have perished by the end of it. They will have died as a result of a racecourse or training injury, or they will be killed after being judged to be no longer financially viable. (source The Trouble with Horse Racing – Animal Aid)
So what can we do?
Its time that the safety of the animals must be put above profits and Anneka would like to propose short term:
- THE END TO NATIONAL HUNT RACING (racing which involves jumping fences and ditches often referred to as hurdles or steeplechase). The Grand National and Cheltenham festival races are two of the largest and most dangerous steeplechases which have seen 40 deaths in the last ten years. Cheltenham saw seven deaths this year and five at Aintree.
- THE END TO THE WHIP OR CROP which has been shown to be ineffective and can cause painful welts. The use of the whip urges the horse to go beyond what it is able to comfortably do, and can result in injuries and stress. Norway banned the whip in 1982 and there is no reason why the UK cannot follow their example. In 2014, there were 586 breaches of the British Horseracing Authority rules against excessive whip use. Racing Writer of the Year, Alan Lee, declared in The Times that Royal Ascot is ‘a stage on which jockeys have regularly been guilty of a win-at-all-costs attitude with the whip in the principal races’.
Born Free’s Political Advisor Dominic Dyer states
“Hoses are often treated in the racing industry as commodities not sensitive sentient animals. They are raced from too early an age and put under huge physical and mental strain to the point many suffer exhaustion & lameness. Whips are used to cause pain & suffering and many horses are drugged to mask pain. Thousands of ex race horses end up in the cruel live export and horse meat trade after they are no longer of value to their owners. If racing is to continue horses should no longer have to face being whipped or jumping hurdles, they should race for shorter distances and be retired earlier to sanctuaries at a point before they suffer physical damage from racing. No race horses should end up in the cruel horse meat trade”
“I don’t think that we will ever see an end to horse racing, as it is deeply embedded in British Culture” Anneka states, “however we can certainly bring attention to improvements which so desperately need to be made. By wearing this hat, I am hoping to open up a calm and civilised discussion with those in the horse race industry on how we can move forward. Sadly the hedonism of the Royal Ascot event is an intoxicating smoke screen to the reality of the death and suffering behind the sport of horse racing and its time we sat up, opened our eyes and realised that Royal Ascot is not simply just the glamorous event we perceive it to be”
Anneka asked Louis to create this important hat for her, as he is a great animal lover, being raised as a vet’s son and known for collecting paraphernalia from nature to make many of his hats. Louis worked tirelessly on the immense creation for two weeks solid prior to Royal Ascot, individually hand dipping over 1400 foam roses in ‘Red Stallion’ paint. The 6ft wire frame was then hand stitched in a rich black fabric and the roses each attached painstakingly by hand. The final creation was extremely heavy and somewhat painful to wear, but Anneka states:
“I don’t care about pain, when those poor horses are being whipped to within an inch of their life out there on the tracks. I can now be more on the same level as the horses at this meet” – Anneka
Anneka wore the creation from the outside of Royal Ascot this year, deciding not to enter into the races, as she felt that it was wrong to purchase a ticket while standards are far from being perfect for horses. She now hopes to engage MP’s as well as those involved in the horse racing industry to push towards addressing these proposals in The House of Commons.
Please sign the following petition started by Animal Aid which will be presented to Royal Ascot on Thursday the 16th June
Animal Aid’s Horse Racing Consultant, Dene Stansall says:
‘Anneka is a committed campaigner who is striving to achieve major goals that would improve the lives of race horses and Animal Aid fully support Anneka in her excellent campaign against the horse racing industry….After 2014’s shameful Royal race meeting it would have been expected that Ascot would do all it possibly could to avoid further deaths. Yet, this appears not to be the case. Not only have we witnessed a fatal injury to a horse in the presence of the Queen but, shockingly, abuse with the whip by jockeys with what a leading racing journalist recently described as ‘a win at all costs’ approach. It is time the welfare of race horses was independently reviewed and concerted action taken to stop horses suffering.’
The ‘Hat for Change’ Campaign has been featured by the following newspaper publications – Thankyou!
The Telegraph – Front Page 14th June 2016
The Times – 14th June 2016
The Express – 14th June 2016
The Daily Mail Femail – 14th June 2016
The Ecologist – 14th June 2016
Kent online – 14th June 2016
The Huffington Post – 15th June 2016
Bracknell News – 15th June 2016
The Argus – 15th June 2016
HorseTalk – 15th June 2016
The Huffington Post (again) – 17th June 2016
The News Hub – 17th June 2016
The Times of Tunbridge Wells – 17th June 2016
Lemontrend – 17th June 2016
The hat was accompanied by a beautiful black woven haute couture creation by Kristina Viirpalu, an Estonian designer known for her use of natural weave and cottons to make her beautiful gowns. www.kristinaviirpalu.com
Thankyou to the following people who without their help this campaign would not have happened:
Kristina Viirpalu (KV Couture)
Alexa Riva Ravina
Louvere Hairdressers – Rickmansworth