For the thirteenth consecutive year MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS® and Old Friends have been teaming up for a unique online shopping experience called “Hats Off to the Horses: The Road to the Derby”!
An annual event, “Hats Off” features a series of four one-of-a-kind couture Derby hats created by MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS® to benefit the retired racehorses of Old Friends. All proceeds from the sale of the hats go to Old Friends.
The third hat up for bid in our 2022 “Hats Off to the Horses” auction series for Old Friends honors Ring Weekend.
Named by West Point Thoroughbred owners after the long-standing tradition of awarding class rings to all West Point Academy seniors, the Graham Motion-trained colt achieved multiple graded stakes wins in 33 starts. Following his retirement from the track in 2018, Ring Weekend was put in training with Olympic Gold Medalist Philip Dutton as an eventer. An injury ended this second career for Ring Weekend and he was retired to Old Friends in June 2021 courtesy of West Point Thoroughbreds and the Dutton family.
This month we have a special message from Old Friends…
We continue this month with our “Ladies of Old Friends” theme featuring the hard-working ladies of Dream Chase Farm as hat models. And who better to impart the true spirit of Old Friends and the distinct personalities of our beloved retirees than those who care for them every day? This month’s hat is dedicated to Ring Weekend and is modeled by tour guide and volunteer, Jane McClaren who helps Old Friends with the thousands of guests that visit the farm annually.
“Ring Weekend loves his visitors, and our visitors love Ring Weekend. It helps that he is handsome, debonair, with 1.5 million in earnings!” ~ Jane McClaren
President and Founder of Old Friends, Michael Blowen stated, “When Ring Weekend won the Bernard Baruch in 2016 at Saratoga in track record time, he stole my heart and enriched my bank account. Yet, both pale in comparison to how much I fell in love with this majestic chestnut when he arrived at Old Friends. At last year’s Belmont Stakes, I was waiting in the valet parking line with Graham and Anita Motion when he said they were retiring Ring Weekend after he finished his second career as a possible Olympic candidate. I was thrilled. Now, his classy personality is symbolized by the remarkably detailed artistry of Sally Steinmann. As you can see for yourself.”
Indeed, a very special chapeau was needed to honor this beloved Thoroughbred athlete and to celebrate his retirement at Old Friends.
To learn more about ‘Ring’s” life I went online and watched videos of his life on the track and read articles about his career as a racehorse.
Next, a sketch of the hat was made, fabrics were chosen and the creative process was underway!
A wide-brimmed Derby hat design was created using a unique blend of colors, shades and textures that showcases Ring Weekend’s chestnut coat and his West Point Thoroughbred racing silk colors of black and yellow.
The foundation for the “Ring” design was fashioned out of a black scroll tapestry and a black dupioni silk underbrim creates a luxurious effect when the wearer’s face is upturned.
The edge of the brim was trimmed with ruffled black silk organza layers…
…and accented with fancy black braiding, handstitched into place.
An innovative lavish floral trim design, inspired by Ring Weekend was handcrafted as a kind of “blanket of flowers” to cover the entire front of the hat.
Sixteen Marguerite flowers of various sizes form the central element of the design.
Each individual flower was created with a chocolate chiffon rose curl center…
…and surrounded by five yellow organza petals topstitched in chocolate thread.
The Marguerites were then stitched end to end to a black silk fabric “vine”, the larger ones in the center, to form a kind of flower garland that extends from one side of the hat to the other.
Black silk organza “feathers” topstitched with chocolate thread were handcrafted, shaped and stitched into place across this floral blanket for one last dramatic accent.
Finally, a chocolate shantung satin sash was sewn to encircle the crown of the hat…
And a black button surrounded by a gold leaf design to represent the West Point ring tradition for which the colt was named adorns the sash in the back.
The lining for the “Ring Weekend” hat was created from to coordinate with the entire chapeau design.
The hat is stunning from every angle and measures approximately 25 inches end to end!
As a physical remembrance of Ring Weekend, several strands of his tail hair were braided and woven into the trim of the hat, creating a unique, one-of-a-kind Derby chapeau that captures Ring Weekend not only in spirit but in substance as well.
The hat was completed in early November, and was then shipped to Old Friends for the grand photo shoot with this month’s model, Jane.
And from all that I heard, everyone had a terrific time!
Thank you to Jane McClaren for modeling for us and to Laura Battles for her stunning images of Jane and Ring Weekend.
The “RIng Weekend” auction hat is now up for bid at this eBay link. All of the proceeds go to the retired racehorses of Old Friends. Bidding ends March 11th at 8 PM EST.
To learn more about Ring Weekend, the horse, please visit the Ring Weekend webpage.
For more information about the “Ring Weekend” Chapeau please visit the Ring Weekend hat webpage.