Q&A with Rachel Hawkins

Horse Racing | Press Article 17/04/24

Q&A with Rachel Hawkins, winner of the L’Ormarins Best Dressed competition at the 2015 Qatar Goodwood Festival 

Rachel Hawkins won the LOrmarins Best Dressed competition at the Qatar Goodwood Festival in 2015 to land a trip to Cape Town and a VIP day at the prestigious L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate at Kenilworth Racecourse in January of this year.

With Jump Jockey boyfriend Will Kennedy busy riding, her aunt Sue accompanied her. Here’s what Rachel made of her trip.

What was racing South Africa-style like and tell us about L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate Day?

It was absolutely incredible and a lovely comparison with Goodwood. The fashion of Goodwood is more relaxed elegance when you compare it to Royal Ascot and that was certainly mirrored at Kenilworth. The style was definitely English Garden party but everyone was so interested in the racing.

The dress code (powder blue and white) is lovely and people made their own interpretation of it. I had to wear the same outfit as I did at Goodwood so, for a girl, that was quite a relaxing feeling!

I hear you were in the VIP Marquee?

It was so exciting because England cricketer Johnny Bairstow is a friend of mine and he was there with his mother and sister. We were on the same table with his England colleague James Taylor. Ian Botham was on the table behind us and I met F1’s Eddie Jordan. I also spotted Lester Piggott.

The afternoon tea at Cape Town’s Mount Nelson hotel has been voted one of the best in the world. You had a chance to sample it as part of your tour so did it live up to billing?

Absolutely. It was old fashioned glamour. The Mount Nelson has a colonial look with fantastic gardens and an absolutely fantastic afternoon tea. A real treat. Tiny sandwiches, every variety of scone you could imagine and so many cakes including macaroons, peanut butter cheesecake and tiny delicate cupcakes. It was served on a table which must have been 20 feet long.

What was the highlight of your trip?

The Drakenstein Stud farm was incredible. It had probably the most beautiful view I have ever seen. It had such a dramatic back drop. A sea view is great but there is also something about mountains.

We were also shown the stallions including Duke Of Marmalade. It was great to see him and we were shown around all the stables. It is such a great set-up, it must have cost a fortune.

We also went around the wine farm at the stud on a little tram before a wine tasting and an incredible lunch. It all went together so well.

I don’t know much about cars but we also were shown the Motor Museum and know enough to understand it was an impressive collection. 

Did you explore Cape Town away from your tour itinerary?

We ate at a couple of places. One was called The Bungalow up in the hills at Clifton. It looked out over the sea and we had great food there.

Did you go to the beach?

Not really. It was so windy. I am not sure how you could. But we did find a couple of hotels with rooftop pools so we did a bit of terrace sun bathing.

Did you visit any of the big tourist attractions like Table Mountain or Robben Island?

No. We were so rubbish. We were only thinking about eating and drinking!

You stayed at The Taj in central Cape Town. What was that like?

Going there I was not expecting anything too special and thought it might be a faceless city centre hotel but we were looked after like royalty. The service was great and they could not do enough for us.

Our room also had a tremendous view of Table Mountain. It was like it was in the room with us.

If you had to sum up your prize trip in four words, what would they be?

Trip of a lifetime.

Words by Marcus Townend