‘Sunday 17 June’ is what our smartphone displays when we are awakened by a few piercing sunrays that have made their way past the thick blackout curtains of the Tiara Chateau Hotel Mont Royal in Chantilly.
All photos: wowtrendmag.com
“Dresscode: dress and hat for the ladies, costume for the gentlemen”, says the invitation which lays on the bedside table. A reminder that we have to sprint out of the starting blocks; just after eleven o’clock we are driven by bus to the Hippodrome de Chantilly for the Prix de Diane.
@Château Hotel Mont Royal Chantilly with Stefaan D’Hondt, Brand Manager Longines Belgium
Ankle-length and short dresses, broad-brimmed hats and fascinators. After a good five kilometers drive from the hotel, the elegant company steps out of the bus just to take place in about ten horse drawn carriages. A ‘surprise transfer’ organized by the Swiss watchmaker Longines, sponsor since 2011, official time keeper and also supplier of the official watch of the Prix de Diane.
Each drawn by three horses, the coaches travel the last kilometers to the Tent France Galop (the Longines VIP tent) in the Hippodrome. We make our entrance in style.
A security guard reminds us to halt briefly. There is clearly something to happen … and yes, a MG oldtimer is driving up the grounds with nobody less than the Chinese actress Zhao Li Ying in the passenger seat, being the Longines ambassador since November. The Asian people is going overboard, they are crowding for a photo and calling her name. Li Ying – with her 60 million fans on the Chinese platform Weibo – does not know into which lens to look first.
Chinese actress Zhao Li Ying, Longines ambassador since November.
Déjeuner sur l’herbe anno 2018
Picnicking on the grass at L’Hippodrome de Chantilly … it’s one of the many activities during the Prix de Diane.
Here, too, only spectators which respect the dress code ‘with hat’ are allowed to the grounds. These are scenes where Edouard Manet would absolutely relish. Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe anno 2018, so to speak.
Stefaan D’Hondt, Brand Manager Longines Belgium
While spectators from all over the world are picnicking outside, the 700 Longines guests take place in the VIP tent for a succulent lunch. Walter von Känel, CEO of Longines since 1988, regularly speaks to put the Record collection – the official watch of the race – in the spotlight, but also announces the winner of the elegance competition in the tent. Like every year, some Longines people choose among the guests the lady with the most elegant appearance. This year Michaela Söderholm, Miss Finland 2017, won the first prize – a Record ladies’ watch.
Longines L2.306.0.83.0 Symphonette, 4.070 € in Belgium.
Also on the grounds outside the tent, every year one competes for the prize of the elegance competition. For the ‘Mademoiselle Diane par Longines’ more than 400 participants parade every year in the heart of the village Diane. Hats, dresses, accessories, everything can be used to blow away the jury with style, daring and creativity;
Sophie Thalmann, former Miss France and TV presenter, had the difficult task this year to designate the woman who embodies the ultimate femininity. The jury’s eye fell on Johanna Contremoulins. She is not only allowed to wear the title of ‘Mademoiselle Diane par Longines 2018’ in the coming year, she also received numerous gifts including a beautiful Record watch by Longines, the official watch of the 169th edition of the Prix de Diane. The Record collection combines classic elegance with excellence and should become the spearhead of the brand in the future. In addition, this automatic watch houses a COSC-certified chronometry movement. For the very first time Longines also invited the spectators to discover the different collections in her boutique in the heart of the village of Diane.
The winner is …
With all this focus on sheer elegance, dress code and hats, we would still forget the crux of the matter. Of course, the Prix de Diane is all about horses. Of the good five thousand annually registered births in the horse world, only the top twenty most talented three year old fillies compete in June during the prestigious ‘Prix de Diane’. The Group 1 flat races (highest category of these races) take place over a 2,100-meter course against the backdrop of the Chantilly castle reconstructed in the 19th century and the royal horse stables; also called ‘the Big Stables’. Under the eye of more than 40,000 spectators, the horse Laurens ridden by the American jockey Patrick McDonald won the first prize. The owner, trainer and jockey of Laurens received an elegant Record-watch from Longines Ambassador of Elegance, Zhao Li Ying.
L126.96.36.199.6 Equestrian collection 3.260 € (for Belgium).
Expo: Painting the Races
On the eve of the races, Longines – whose history has been associated with the equine universe for over 140 years – invited us to the opening of the ‘Painting de Races’ exhibition in the Salle du Jeu de Paume in Chantilly. This exhibition will run until 14 October 2018 in the Domain of Chantilly and allow the spectators to discover works of art on horse racing from the late 18th to the late 19th century. Works by big names like George Stubbs, Théodore Géricault and Edgar Degas will more than fascinate you.