Celebrating the Boxing Day Races | She's no stranger to the sash

9 Dec 2021
Auckland Thoroughbred Racing

Soraya Gurney is no stranger to scooping those elusive racewear sashes.

Her first season of competing saw her take out the Fashions in the Field womenswear title and 2019 was no different with Soraya snapping up the runner-up spot as well as the millinery prize to boot THEN she went on to win the womenswear title again in 2020 – and that’s just on Boxing Day alone!


Soraya on the runway at SkyCity Boxing Day Races in 2019


Today Soraya joins us to chat all things racing fashion and to share some tips as we head down to The Ned Prix de Fashion for 2022.

1. How did you get into racing fashion?

My sister Virginia is based in Melbourne and she had competed over there for a few years and done really well and as I always had the reputation as the little fashionista in the family I felt like it might be something I could really love too.

In saying that, it wasn’t until 2018 when I finally thought ‘why not’ and entered my first competition at Ellerslie’s Melbourne Cup Day!

2. Where do you get your inspo from?

Inspiration for my outfits can come from many different sources; sometimes it’s a beautiful roll of fabric I find, sometimes it’s a gorgeous dress with a print or shape I love, other times, like my recent Counties Cup outfit, it’s an amazing pair of heels and I build the outfit from the ground up.

I’ve found that as long as it sparks joy and excitement in me, I know I’m onto something and I really enjoy the journey of creating an outfit from there.

3. Can you describe your personal style?

I like a chic, polished look that’s well thought-out.

I love to dress up and will rarely been seen in something that’s just thrown together half the fun is deciding what to wear!

I like a touch of sexy; I’ll work with my assets (definitely my legs in my opinion) and show them off.

And I do like to give a nod to current trends but I will try to put my own take on them too so to still standout and be a bit different.

4. Who’s style do you admire and why?

I LOVE Carrie Bradshaw’s style and think SJP and Patricia Field are geniuses. The way they mixed high end designer pieces with vintage jems in outfits that were always fun, flirty and pushed fashion boundaries was such a vibe.

5. What are some raceday essentials?

Extra bobby pins and my chosen lippy for the day are musts.

6. What would you say to someone considering entering FITF (Fashions in the Field) for the first time?

I would say go for it but also give yourself time to pull your outfit together and do some homework.

Check out Ellerslie’s social media pages for previous winning looks and start following racing fashion groups and pages on social media to give yourself an idea of racing fashion dos and don’ts and the current seasons trends.

7. Do you need to blow the budget to create a competitive outfit? If no, what are some tips to economise?

Definitely not. This misconception is actually what held me back from entering FITF for so long.

My second time ever entering FITF was Boxing Day 2018 where I was so thrilled to win the Womenswear sash and I was actually in a $40 dress I had found online.

I ended up buying two and using the second dress to make a neck tie for the first just to take the outfit up a notch.

And again, my 2020 winning Counties Cup outfit was just dress from Farmers that I had altered and added a custom made belt to, again to take it up a notch.

More recently, I’m very inspired by vintage finds – they are often super affordable and the bonus is that no one else will have them!

I think we are really lucky that these days as there are a lot of quality, beautiful and fashionable items at great price points available online and instore that can serve as a great base for a really competitive FITF outfit.

8. What is your favourite raceday look you’ve pulled together and why?

I think Boxing Day 2019 is a stand out for me, in particular my skirt. I had an idea in my head that I wanted to have a beautiful floaty leopard print skirt made and I found a roll of fabric that made me squeal with excitement. It was leopard print with a twist as it had this gorgeous metallic silver through it.

And it was on clearance!!

I also started planning the outfit in April 2019 so that I could have a lot of it sorted before having my daughter in August that year.

I’m still so thrilled with how it all came together and that I managed the mama/fashionista juggle well too.

9. What are your raceday fashion goals?

The absolute dream would be to win The Ned Prix de Fashion one day and go on to compete in the Melbourne Cup Carnival.

And for sentimental reasons I would also really love to compete at The New Zealand Trotting Cup Day one year as my dad, Richard Brosnan, won The New Zealand Trotting Cup in 1982 with his mare Bonnie’s Chance so it’s a day with a lot of great memories for the family already.

10. You’ve prequalified for The Ned Prix de Fashion for the past three years…what can you tell us about your process for pulling together a winning look?

I still can’t quite believe that.

For me I like to start with my fabric/dress and build the rest of the outfit around that.

Although I have also started with shoes before, which was new for me but they were just too cute and I had to wear them!

11. What should newbies expect from a day at the track? Both on the runway and off.

Anyone new to FITF should expect to have the best time and will absolutely get hooked. It’s very addictive.

You’ll also make a lot of new fashion friends which is something I have really loved about it.

Off the runway, you’ll be sure to enjoy a day full of great racing, food and entertainment.

The Auckland Racing Club team always make the whole racecourse look gorgeous and I love that there are hospitality options for any budget.

12. What’s your favourite raceday and why?

The SkyCity Boxing Day Races. It was scene of my first ever runway competition, my first ever sash and on a personal note, at Boxing Day 2018, we had just found out we were expecting our first baby so for that reason as well it will always be very special to me.

13. Any final tips, tricks or comments?

Definitely make sure you pay attention to all the tiny details of your outfit too like your nail colour for example. They can make a big difference and take an outfit from being good to being great.

For colour-matching accessories, spray paint is always a great option.

And above all, I think have fun and enjoy the process of putting together your outfit and then on raceday smile and show it off to the judges.

I think a bit of confidence on stage can really elevate your whole outfit.

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