Catlaunch Goes Top Hat for Old Friends

The fourth hat up for bid in our “Hats Off to the Horses” auction series honors the Ohio-bred stakes-winning gelding and 3-time Ohio Horse of the Year, Catlaunch.

Blog-CatlaunchHorse3-RickCapone-FramedI can’t even begin to tell you what a privilege it is to create these Derby hats to honor the retired racehorses of Old Friends. And nothing pleases me more than to share with you how each horse inspired me to create their individual millinery tributes.

Blog-CatlaunchHat8For starters, I asked Michael Blowen, president and founder of Old Friends, what his impressions were of his new retiree. “Catlaunch is a prime example of how a sturdy Thoroughbred, given the care and love of his trainer, groom, owner and jockey, can have a successful career for many years. He’s very smart and loveable and he eats carrots out of my mouth.”

Beth Shannon, a volunteer at Old Friends, described Catlaunch as “the color of an antique mahogany piece of furniture. A lovely, rich brown though not flashy. But there is one thing about his looks that’s very flashy – he is a giraffe! Tall, long legged, long necked, holds his head high, slender. He’s all heart and he’s sweet, too. He likes to lick faces and ears.”

Blog-CatlaunchHorse1-RickCapone-FramedMy research continued with reviews of The Cat’s victories, his pedigree and his racing connections. Known affectionately by some as Thistledown’s “Iron Horse”, Catlaunch retired to Old Friends at the age of 13 a millionaire, with 40 victories and 22 stakes wins to his credit.

Blog-CatlaunchHat-Process1To capture Catlaunch’s statuesque, elegant physique, I decided on a splendid top hat style for the hat’s foundation.

Blog-CatlaunchHat-Process2BI was thrilled when I found the perfect blue turquoise metallic taffeta to create it!

Blog-CatlaunchHat-Process3For the trim centerpiece I shaped a large rose curl out of alternating layers of blush pink and rose pink organza to adorn the front of the hat. A medley of turquoise blue organza leaves were fashioned to frame it.

Blog-CatlaunchHat-Process4 A double bow and sash were created out of a rich golden mahogany brown crinkled taffeta lined with soft turquoise crinkled taffeta.

Blog-CatlaunchHat-Process5Mocha hat veiling was layered to delicately cover the entire hat and gracefully drape down over the wearer’s face.

Blog-CatlaunchHat-Process7For a final touch to the centerpiece, three long, curvaceous “feathers” were created out of mocha organza with a golden shimmer and then set behind the rose curl.

Blog-CatlaunchHat-Process6 Three clear, soft blue buttons were hand stitched to adorn the back seam.

Blog-CatlaunchHat-Process8 The lining was created from a rich chocolate taffeta.

Blog-CatlaunchHat13 The finished “Catlaunch” design measures approximately 17 inches across and 10 inches in height, inclusive of the “feathers”.

Blog-CatlaunchHat2 As a physical remembrance of Catlaunch, several strands of the great gelding’s tail hairs were braided and woven into the trim of the hat, creating a unique, one-of-a-kind Derby chapeau that captures Catlaunch not only in spirit but in substance as well.

Talk about The Cat’s Meow!

Following a quick photo shoot here in our MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS® studio…

Blog-CatlaunchHat-Process9The “Catlaunch” was off and running to Old Friends for the big photo shoot with Shea and Julien Leparoux!

Blog-BallFour-SheaandJulien-2012For a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the Catlaunch photo shoot at Old Friends, check out the video footage below so generously provided by EquiSport Photos.

We want to extend a big thank you to jockey Julien Leparoux and his lovely wife Shea who have been super models for our auction hats this season and to Matt and Wendy Wooley of EquiSport Photos who worked their video/photographic magic once again. The dress that Bella Rose Clothing Boutique, Lexington, Kentucky furnished for Shea matched the “Catlaunch” top hat beautifully. Our thanks to you all!

The “Catlaunch” auction hat is up for bid staring January 1st at this Catlunch EBay link; bidding ends January 11th at 8 PM EST.

Please also enjoy this slideshow of the “Catlaunch” chapeau and the horse who inspired its creation.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

For more information, please visit the Catlaunch hat webpage and also the Caltaunch horse webpage at

Thank you for visiting Hats and Horses, and welcome home Catlaunch!



2 Replies to “Catlaunch Goes Top Hat for Old Friends”

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