Absolutely fascinating as Fakenham Racecourse shows its feminine side

Banish the Barbour and tuck away the dowdy tweeds – it's time for frocks and fascinators at Fakenham Racecourse...

The brilliant colours behind the rails and in the stands gave the jockeys' silks a run for their money yesterday afternoon as the course held its first Ladies' Day.

And Fakenham - a circuit not exactly renowned for sweltering race-day temperatures – felt more like Baken'em as the sun beat down upon thousands of racegoers drawn from across the region.

For the more sober-minded men, shirtsleeves and straw hats were as far as they were prepared to go for the occasion. But lots of female spectators, from girls to great-grannies, were determined to cut a dash and enjoy an afternoon laced with champers and Pimm's and the thrill of a flutter on a six-race card.

Racecourse chief executive and clerk David Hunter gazed at the blue skies, the lush, Technicolor green turf watered by the spring rain-fest and the panorama of punters and declared: 'Fantastic!'

He added: 'By the looks of things we have got one busy and happy occasion today, and it's nice that so many ladies took the trouble to really dress up.'

Mr Hunter said Ladies' Day was all set to become a permanent Fakenham fixture. 'Many other courses have done it - there's nothing new about it, so we thought: 'Why not us?'' he added.

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Claire Walker, from Elm, near Wisbech, was one of the winners of Ladies' Day hat and fashion competition prizes; she had arrived with a 30th birthday party group on a 1960s double-decker bus. Claire said: 'I think this is an excellent idea because it is a lovely excuse to get dressed up for a day.'

Other award-winners included Faye Enefer, from Feltwell, Jenny Anderson, from Southery, Gina Healey, from Great Bircham, Cassie Rogers, from Reepham, and Jackie Smith, from Gorleston.

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