Like every year, Sundays all through this April are going to be special for derby lovers in Mumbai.
The 325-plus acres of the Mahalaxmi Racecourse will transform into a playground for not just the best race horses but for fashion shows and performances.
Farah Oomerbhoy with Rhea Pillai and their children at the race course
Brazilian samba dancers and Russian troupes have entertained the city’s glamorous set in the past. This year, the Royal Western India Turf Club has planned its racing programme in such a way that the spectators have something more to do other than cheering on their favourite stallion. Contests, bumper prizes and other add-ons promise to make the Sundays fun for the entire family.
After the Shapoorji Pallonji Day on 5 April, which had two juvenile championship races, the next event on the calendar is the Indo German Chamber of Commerce race day on 19 April along with a carnival, The Lufthansa Cup and The Byramjee Jeejeebhoy Eclipse Stakes Of India.
The Casino Royale Multimillion is on 26 April.
The highlight will be the McDowell Indian Derby Weekend, on 11 and 12 April, with a prize money of more at least Rs1.75 crore.
The two fillies, Set Alight (owned by businessman Vijay Mallya) and Ice-breaker, will meet the two top colts Autonomy (owned by real estate developer Jaydev Mody and his lawyer wife Zia) and Dancing Dynamite on Indian Derby Day on 12 April.
What to wear:
Natasha and Adar Poonawala at Poonawala Breeders Multimillion Race
Women are at their glamourous best for a day at the derby. “Most women turn up in their afternoon dresses and that’s the best way to go,” says designer Priyadarshini Rao. She suggests wearing shifts, long dresses and skirts. But be careful not to be too co-ordinated, or you will end up looking like a fashion victim. Rao’s tip is to stay away from rhinestones and any kind of glitter. According to her, even a Chanel suit is a great option. “The trick is to look glamourous, not overtly sexy,” she adds.
For example, you could wear a floral satin dress with a leather belt to add an edge and stilettos, or even wedge heels for added comfort. Delhi-based socialite Nisha Singh used to bring out her chiffons and pearls for a day at the races when she lived in Mumbai. “Races are more about seeing and being seen,” she says.
Designer Rina Dhaka says printed chiffon blouses can be very glamourous. Adding a bag or belt of the season will give any outfit a high fashion edge. “The idea is to dress how you would for a champagne brunch,” she adds.