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The “Benburb” Hat
For the third consecutive year, MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS® and Old Friends teamed up for an unparalleled online shopping experience: "Hats Off to the Horses: The Road to the Derby". This unique Derby hat fundraiser featured one-of-a-kind couture Derby hats created by MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS® to benefit Old Friends. To learn more about Old Friends at Dream Chase Farm and bid on the hats, please visit the Old Friends website, or call them at 502-863-1775.
For the third hat auction in the third year's auction series, milliner Sally Faith Steinmann of MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS® created this stunning one-of-a-kind couture Derby hat to honor 1992 Canadian Horse of the Year, Benburb, one of the most beloved retirees at Old Friends of Kentucky.
Benburb photos by Matt Wooley - www.equisportphotos.com
From the Gaelic Beann Bhorb, meaning “defiant cliff,” Benburb, a 24-1 shot, stunned the racing world in the summer of 1992 when he upset the great Alydeed (1-20) in the final strides of the Prince of Wales Stakes in Fort Erie, Ontario. And later that September, Benburb scored another remarkable victory over both Alydeed and A. P. Indy in the 1992 Molson Export Million (G2) at Woodbine which helped to earn him the 1992 Canadian Horse of the Year award.
The spirit that this gentle athlete presents at Old Friends, where he is known as Bennie, is quite the contrast to his past competitive spirit on the track. Valerine Mulgrave of the Old Friends Blog writes, “Bennie... is the most easygoing, unassuming, kind-hearted, happy horse in the world. You could leave small children to crawl under, on, and around him and he would take care of them perfectly.... When he looks at you, you realize that he knows everything you know and then some. Nothing fazes him because he understands everything, and therefore nothing is surprising. Had Bennie not been a racehorse, he would have been a wonderful dressage horse or a great trail riding horse or a fine jumper. No matter what his job he'd have been, and is, a terrific friend to have. Even if you just met Benburb, somehow you know he is something a little extra special.”
Benburb was originally called a roan, which is a horse whose coat color pattern features white hairs mixed with some other pigment, in his case with gray, which gave him a dappled gray appearance and the color description of gray/roan. As with most roans, the color of Benburb's points [lower legs, mane and tail] as a youngster were dark, in his case charcoal or nearly black. He arrived at Old Friends in 2009 and became fast friends with the black Smokey Stover. Over the years the two horses have increasingly looked like salt and pepper as Benburb's coat has turned almost pure white.
Beth Shannon of Old Friends describes Benburb's coat today as “gleaming like sunlit snow.” She goes on to describe Bennie's eyes as, “...large, dark, kind eyes. What stands out about Bennie is his gentle yet playful spirit. He's a love.”
To capture both his changing appearance as well as his warm and kind spirit, a richly textured dupioni silk of woven silver and white threads was selected for the hat's foundation.
To further reflect the changing coat of this magnificent stallion, nearly 12 yards of silver, black, ivory and white wispy tulle layers were alternated with two gently ruffled layers of dark silver organza to give the brim edge the desired rolling contour and flowing movement.
As a finishing touch, a fancy braiding of warm slate-gray and ivory was topstitched where the silk and tulle layers meet the brim edge.
During his racing career, Benburb carried the trademark blue silks with gold sash and starburst of Steve Stavro's Knob Hill Stables. Ironically, these same silks were later carried by 1999 Horse of the Year, Thornfield, who has since also retired at Old Friends which the two great champions now call home.
The blue silks with the gold sash and starburst of Steve Stavro's Knob Hill Stables provided the basic color palette for the trimmings of this stunning Derby hat in a truly innovative combination of texture and design. The centerpiece of the trim design is a lavish slate gray taffeta double bow lined with rich cobalt metallic blue taffeta which frames a large rose curl created from alternating layers of golden taffeta and soft gold organza.
A medley of gold taffeta and silver silk organza leaves serves to create a starburst-shaped setting for the rose curl, and at the very heart of the flower is a single deep blue button with a golden wave pattern that is meant to reflect the undulating motion of the Thoroughbred athlete at full gallop.
A sash created in a layered arrangement of slate gray, gold and cobalt blue taffeta surrounds the crown. For the finishing touch, the back sash seam was gently gathered and three tiny shimmering charcoal buttons stitched into place at the very back of the hat, making the design captivating from every angle!
One other innovation for the "Benburb" hat was the weaving of a physical remembrance of the horse into the hat. Several strands of the great stallion's tail hairs were braided and woven into the trim of the hat itself, thereby creating a unique, one-of-a-kind Derby chapeau that is Benburb not only in spirit but in substance as well...
The purpose of this amazing millinery delight was to honor the life of Benburb and all of the horses who, thanks to the generosity of those who support their aftercare, now graze in the warm sunshine of Dream Chase Farm.
”We ask of the thoroughbreds, and they give, they serve us with dignity and satisfy our needs to compete - we owe it to them to provide the retirement they so justly have earned.” - Fred Stone
The “Benburb” hat was the third in our “Hats Off to the Horses” Derby hat auction series during our third season, and it was up for bid from January 1st through the 11th, 2012. At the end of the month, the winning bidder's name was announced.
To read more about Benburb, the horse, please click on the following link - Featured Horse.
Bid as many times and on as many hats as you like during this running auction. For further information about the eBay bidding process, please contact Old Friends at 502-863-1775. If you don't desire to place a bid on a hat, please contact Old Friends to see about what other ways you might be able to help out at Dream Chase Farm.
Freight charges will be at the expense of the winning bidder. Winning bidders, please allow 3-4 weeks for delivery of your hat in order to ensure proper sizing.
To view the couture Derby hats from previous auctions, please click on the following - Old Friends Hat Auction Portfolio.