With Ladies’ Day looming at Redcar Racecourse next Saturday, mum-of-four and new grandma Heather Barron goes in search of a glamorous look for the big day

TO be brutally honest, horses don’t really interest me that much. But when it comes to the fashion stakes, what woman can turn down the chance to get dressed up and look a million dollars?

It’s Ladies’ Day at Redcar next Saturday (June 24) – one of the feature days of the year at the popular seaside course – and I was placed under starter’s orders by my other half to “glam up” for the stylish occasion.

Now, I freely admit I’ve had worse challenges in my time. The only problem was, where to start when assembling the outfit?

Because I work from home, I don’t usually pay too much attention to what I throw on in the morning. As long as it’s warm on a cold day, and cool on a warm day, I’m good to go.

But this was a whole different matter. I knew that there would be lots of competition from many glamorously-clad ladies who have gone that extra furlong to make the best of the chance to dress up.

Fortunately, Redcar Racecourse works with sponsors whose business it is to make you look good. So, first out of the starting stalls – the all-important frock. The mission is to go for a complete overhaul including hat, shoes, accessories and hair, but they all need to co-ordinate with the main feature.

I started at the Betty Leigh Boutique, situated in the up-and-coming Northern Quarter in Redcar, and owned by young entrepreneur Vicky Smee, who opened the shop in November 2016.

Vicky prioritises first-class customer service, and a range of unique designs that are not mass-produced, so you can be guaranteed that there won’t be someone else wearing your outfit at an event.

“We’re very careful that, if a customer buys a dress for an event like Ladies' Day, we won’t sell that same outfit to someone else for the same event,” explains Vicky. “You don’t want to have made all that effort only to find someone wearing the same dress.”

Vicky had chosen three dresses for me to try on, and we all agreed that the Eden Row, lemon yellow, short-sleeved dress was exactly right for me, and for what I’m hoping will be a lovely, summer’s day. A gorgeous, sunny colour that Vicky matched with pale gold shoes and a gold clutch bag.

With the first furlong comfortably covered, it was time to pick up the pace.

Lynne Young, of Chic Hats, just off Redcar seafront, had 120 hats and fascinators for me to choose from, and I was determined to make a statement. She has worked with Rose Cory, who made hats for the Queen Mother. If it’s good enough for the Queen Mother, it’s good enough for me!

With Lynne’s help, I selected a magnificent, vibrant orange sinamay creation, cheekily-tilted, and bedecked with shaped feathers, flowers and net. The yellow in the dress picked out the yellow flower perfectly, and the two together were like a burst of sunlight.

With such a fancy hat and vibrant dress, some discreet but statement jewellery was next on the agenda, and Market Cross Jewellers provided just the thing. Sparkling Swarovski crystal necklace, bracelet and ring that promised to glint in the sunshine and add a touch of pazazz to the dress and hat.

I was approaching the home straight, and all that was left to do to reach the finish line was the hair and make-up.

Rachael Kerr and Kennedy Young, of hair and beauty studio Orange Kerr, were ready for me. Based in Redcar, they’ve done lots of Ladies' Day makeovers between them and Kennedy got started on giving me the kind of fabulous film-star-look I could never achieve at home.

She certainly used many more potions and brushes than I have ever owned, but the result was a flawless look that was subtle but definitely striking.

I could see that Rachael was itching to get her hands on my hair, which she had to sculpt around the hat, making sure that both were well fixed, so that neither would suffer if it turned out to be a breezy day.

A bit of back-combing, some setting gel and self-grip rollers, and a generous number of hairgrips, ensured that the hat was firmly attached to my hair and I was sporting a soft fringe and flattering curls. Even the natural grey, that I continually debate about colouring, looked glossy and attractive.

Rachael herself was adamant about dying it – DON’T! She explained that your hair and skin both change colour as you get older so they complement each other. She told me that every week she has customers asking to go grey. Grey must be the new blonde, so, for once, I’m in fashion!

All I had to do now was bring the whole ensemble together, and it was a bit like the Big Reveal on a Trinny and Susannah makeover – I didn’t know what the final result would be until I looked in the mirror.

But I loved it! I was past the finishing post and all I need now is to back a few winners on the day.