“Hats Off to the Horses: The Road to the Derby” auction is off and running for the sixth consecutive year!
Once again Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement facility and I have teamed up for this annual Derby hat fundraiser that features one-of-a-kind couture Derby hats created by MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS® to benefit the retired racehorses of Dream Chase Farm.
I have been wanting to create a hat for Clever Allemont ever since I started “Hats Off” back in 2009. Clever Allemont was the winner of both the I984 Rebel and Southwest stakes races among others. Yet sadly, like too many other racehorses, somewhere along the way Clever’s life had taken a dangerous turn. He was rescued from a kill pen in 2008 and retired to Old Friends in 2009 through the efforts of a team of people bonded by the same goal: to ensure his safe retirement.
Clever’s was a life story that needed to be shared.
I decided to create a very special millinery design to pay tribute to this Thoroughbred athlete’s amazing life and to offer it as a special holiday bonus for our fundraiser.
In keeping with this season’s theme of “Rosie Napravnik and Friends” for our auction series, jockey Julien Leparoux and his wife Shea have joined us, with Shea modeling the Clever Allemont hat.
Eclipse-Awarding winning French-born jockey, Julien Leparoux is one of horse racing’s leading riders who just this October tallied his 2,000th win at Churchill Downs. In 2009 Julien added another feather to his cap when he became only the second jockey in history to win three Breeders’ Cup races during a single year.
Julien’s wife, Shea, is the daughter of West Coast trainer Mike Mitchell and has spent her whole life around horses and the race track. Shea loves musical theater and has worked as an entertainer at Disneyland. You can hear her as the voice of the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance’s new promotional video “All About the Horse.”
We are delighted to have Shea and Julien joining our “Hats Off” team!
Michael Blowen, president and founder of Old Friends, states, “Clever Allemont was the kindest, friendliest stallion on the farm. He inspired deaf people because he was deaf, visually impaired people because he enjoyed life though he’d lost an eye, indeed anybody who knew what it’s like to overcome hardship. People call Clever Allemont a ‘rescue,’ but it’s really the horses who rescue us.”
Beth Shannon, a volunteer at Old Friends adds, “A triumph of love over greed is what I call Clever’s journey from a kill buyer’s pen waiting for a slaughter auction, to a new life as one of Old Friends’ most loved residents, as a gracious host, kind friend and inspiration to us all.”
Clearly, a very special hat was needed to pay tribute to this kind hearted member of the Old Friends family who inspired so many.
I went online and Clever’s racing bio, consulted with those who knew Clever well, and soon I had the background information that I needed.
And there was something that Beth had shared with me about Clever that really stuck in my mind. “Clever was a horse of many colors, steady, kind, persevering, yet often giving us wonderful little surprises.” Guided by Beth’s insight, I decided to sculpt the “Clever Allemont” as a fascinator. Sketches were made and fabrics were chosen, the creative process was underway!
And soon the Clever hat was on its way to Old Friends for the big shoot with Shea and Julien Leparoux. For a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the photo shoot, please visit the video footage provided by EquiSport Photos.
We want to extend a big thank you to our models, Shea and Julien Leparoux, as well as to Matt and Wendy Wooley of EquiSport Photos who worked their photographic magic. The dress that Bella Rose Clothing Boutique, Lexington, Kentucky furnished for Shea matched the chapeau beautifully. Our thanks to you all, we couldn’t do these auctions without you!
The “Clever Allemont” chapeau is up for bid on EBay as a special holiday addition to the fundraiser. Bidding ends Thanksgiving night, November 27th at 8 PM EST.
To read more about Clever Allemont, the horse, please visit the Clever webpage.
Please also enjoy this slide show of the “Clever Allemont” chapeau and the horse who inspired me to create it.
Clever, our hats are off to you!
Thank you for visiting Hats and Horses,