The day of Silver Charm’s arrival at Old Friends Equine was anything but picture perfect. A cold rain had been falling and the early December air had turned chilly and dank.
Yet there was nothing Mother Nature could have thrown at those assembled in the Big Barn that would have dampened their spirits.
After all, it was the day that Silver Charm, the 1997 Derby winner and Hall of Famer, was coming home to Old Friends!
Since Silver Charm’s 2005 departure for stud duty in Japan, President and founder of Old Friends, Michael Blowen, had been steadfastly working to eventually bring Silver Charm home to Dream Chase Farm once his breeding career was over.
And in October, 2014, Blowen got the call he’d long been hoping for.
In an October 29th Bloodhorse article Michael stated, “It’s totally unbelievable. A few days ago I got a call from Sandy Hatfield (stallion manager) over at Three Chimneys and she said, ‘Do you have room over there for a gray stallion that needs a home?’ And I freaked out. It’s a great story of cooperation among Three Chimneys, the JBBA, the Lewises, and then finally to us.”
I can still see Michael’s face in the photos of Silver Charm’s arrival at Old Friends that day. Oblivious to the rain and with a smile that would light up the world, Michael was holding in his hands the great stallion’s halter given to him many years before by Sandy Hatfield after Silver Charm left for Japan.
And in one of those rare and cosmic alignments of horses and the people who love them, Silver Charm was getting the chance to once again wear the treasured halter. It was a dream come true for Blowen.
I was thrilled when Michael asked me to create a hat to honor this great stallion for our next “Hats Off to the Horses” fundraiser. And as we begin this year’s fundraising campaign, the “Silver Charm” chapeau is leading the way!
“Hats Off to the Horses: The Road to the Derby” enters its 7th season this year as Old Friends Equine and MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS® team up once again for the 6-month Derby hat fundraiser. Starting this month and leading all the way to the Derby, six one-of-a-kind couture Derby hats created by MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS® will honor six Old Friends retirees with 100% of the auction proceeds to benefit the retired racehorses of Dream Chase farm.
This year we are delighted once again to have retired jockey Rosie Napravnik modeling our “Hats Off to the Horses” chapeaux for us. Five months ago, Rosie and her husband, trainer Joe Sharp, welcomed a baby boy named Carson into the world, and I was thrilled when Rosie said yes to including him in the “Silver Charm” photo shoot!
In order to create a hat to honor such an esteemed champion, one who breathes that rarefied air known to only a very few equine athletes in horse racing history, I wanted to know what the great horse was like in person.
Beth Shannon, a volunteer at Old Friends who has come to know the great grey since his arrival states, “Silver Charm knows who he is. He’s one of the proudest horses I’ve ever known, but he’s gracious.”
“He understands that people feel privileged to be around him,” Beth continued, “And he goes out of his way to share his presence and kindness. His intelligence is awe-inspiring, too. His mom, Bonnie’s Poker, lived with us in her old age and was loved by us all. Silver Charm has a different kind of presence. He commands respect at once, but the love he inspires just keeps growing and growing with time.”
To honor this accomplished Thoroughbred athlete and to celebrate his new life at Old Friends, I next went online to find Silver Charm’s racing bio and videos of his wins on the track.
Three varying shades of gray and white silk organza were used to create ruffled outer brim layers to reflect the transformation of the stallion’s coat colors from a rich dappled grey to nearly white.
A medley of spring green dupioni silk and organza leaves, individually wired and shaped, were fashioned to frame the rose. “Bow loops” created out of wispy gray hat veiling were set behind the leaves for a touch of soft, wispy elegance.
As a physical remembrance of Silver Charm, several strands of the stallion’s tail hair were braided and woven into the trim of the hat, creating a unique, one-of-a-kind Derby chapeau that captures Silver Charm not only in spirit but in substance as well.
The finished hat was photographed and shipped on its way to Old Friends for the grand photo shoot with Rosie Napravnik and her family!
A special thank you to Matt and Wendy Wooley of EquiSport Photos who once again worked their photographic magic that day. And a big thank you as well to Bella Rose Clothing Boutique, Lexington, Kentucky for furnishing the dress that Rosie wore which beautifully matched the chapeau. You can view it all in this behind-the-scenes glimpse of the photo shoot by Wendy…
Special thanks to Rosie Napravnik and her husband Joe, such splendid models, and their little boy Carson who simply stole the show!
The “Silver Charm” auction hat is now up for bid on EBay and bidding ends Wednesday, November 11th at 8 PM EST.
Please also enjoy this slideshow of the “Silver Charm” chapeau and the horse who inspired it.
To learn more about Silver Charm, the horse, please visit the Silver Charm webpage.
For more information about the “Silver Charm” Chapeau please visit the Silver Charm hat webpage.
Thank you for visiting Hats and Horses, and here’s to our best auction season yet!