We caught up Racing Guru & Presenter Flora Gibbs about race day fashion & her tips for keep your cool on camera.
We love to watch all your racing content. Tell us how racing became such an interest for you?
For as long as I can remember, horses have played a fundamental part in both my personal and family life. Although I'm not from a strictly racing background, I have always had a keen interest in horse racing. I remember I used to pretend to be ill at school just so that I could watch Denman and Kauto Star battle it in the days of Channel 4 Racing. When I got back from school, I would then charge around the fields finding anything relatively jumpable pretending I was AP McCoy. Although, come to think of it, I'm already cringing at the prospect of AP finding that out...! Fast forward the clock and I've had fantastic support from some key people within the industry and have had the pleasure of working with Sky Sports Racing and now ITV Racing. I have always looked up to other female racing presenters and Gina Bryce, Hayley Moore and Francesca Cumani have all given me invaluable advice and been amazing mentors.
You seem to have fun with your style on the track and off it, a muse and model for beautiful brands including Hermes. Has fashion always been a passion?
From a young age I've experienced all aspects of fashion which would range from my mum teaching me about "feeling the fabric" to "the cut" of a garment, to her reminiscing on days at Vogue House, to me baking in the kitchen with super models who were staying with us, to casually dropping in with mum to catch up with one of her designer friends in their studios. I don't think I really appreciated it that much back then maybe because I was too young or most probably because I was a die-hard pony lover at heart! I remember the girls at my school would ask me lots of questions about my mum and her work when really all i wanted to do was be outside with the horses wearing my grandfather's very old boiled wool Barbour jumper and coat, dirty jodhpurs and my old Hunter boots. As I got older and had my own experiences in fashion, I learnt to appreciate it and it is definitely a passion now. My mum now lets me "borrow" some of her wonderful pieces from her wardrobe which means "they get an outing" but I know that the word "borrow" insinuates that there is a firm return date! I really enjoy seeing how people put outfits together and particularly in racing, I love that dressing up for the races is such a fun part of the occasion.
How do you prepare for a day at the races?
It's something I really look forward to. Along the way I have picked up some tips and tricks to make the research part a bit easier. There's a lot that goes into it but an overview would be I usually check for any news, familiarise myself with the horses running by checking form, watching race replays and any interesting insights given.
What is the greatest challenge when presenting to a live audience?
I am still learning on the job and it would be arrogant to say it's easy and that I have it all figured out because I definitely don't! There's quite a cross over now between being on tv and having a strong online presence on social media. It is challenging at times when what is projected online can be distant from reality. I am learning to not get overwhelmed by it when it comes to live TV.
Do you have any tips and tricks on calming the nerves?
I have a great group of friends and my family who are really supportive. I try to not let things get in my head too much and to reassure myself in what I have learnt so far and putting it into practice.
It is a long day on your feet, through rain or shine, do you have any style hacks for us on being ready for any weather at the races?
I was once told that a way to navigate wearing heels all day with all the walking is to put a load of talcum powder in your shoes. It doesn't look too great pre and post wearing the shoes but it is a game changer! If it's cold, put handwarmers in your pockets, if it's hot, take a facial refresher spray, I like the Caudalie Beauty Elixir which definitely saves your makeup from going sticky!
How do you tell your friends to dress for Cheltenham Races, are there certain dos and don'ts or colours to avoid?
I think it is entirely up to them how they decide to dress if that's what they feel comfortable in. I think there is nothing worse than feeling uncomfortable in your outfit so I will only pass on advice if they ask for it. The two main things I always say is comfy footwear, you're on your feet for the majority of the day and you're guaranteed to have a solid step count by the end of the day! Secondly, keep warm! By March it's usually a bit warmer although you can still get caught out so make sure to layer up or whack on a nice and toasty coat!