EDEN CONFIDENTIAL: Derby racing club's bash gets whip over sexism row

EDEN CONFIDENTIAL: Derby racing club’s historic men-only black tie bash gets the whip over sexism row

Presided over by the Earl of Derby and held in the River Room of the Savoy Hotel, the £150-a-head black tie Derby Club Dinner is arguably the most glittering and traditional evening event in racing’s social calendar.

But this year’s gathering has precipitated a fearful row about its status as a men-only affair. The Racing Post quoted the former head of the Racehorse Owners Association, Rachel Hood, who calls it ‘damaging to racing’ and ‘an embarrassing anachronism’.

One guest — Joe Saumarez Smith, newly installed as chairman of the British Horseracing Authority — said he had been unaware that it was an all-male event and ‘would not return’ if that continued to be the case.

This, in turn, has inspired a backlash from some members of the club, which was founded in 1932 and was thereafter regularly addressed by Winston Churchill, a keen Derby Club Dinner attendee. Indeed, one member, controversial City PR man Piers Pottinger, has resigned in the wake of the row’s coverage.

Presided over by the Earl of Derby (left) and held in the River Room of the Savoy Hotel, the £150-a-head black tie Derby Club Dinner is arguably the most glittering and traditional evening event in racing’s social calendar

But this year’s gathering has precipitated a fearful row about its status as a men-only affair

Quite why Pottinger has chosen to resign is unclear. However, no other member of the club, whose gilded roll-call includes the Marquess of Blandford, Earl De La Warre, the Queen’s former representative at Ascot Sir Johnny Weatherby, and the Sangster brothers, Guy and Ben, has done likewise.

Instead, they emphasise that the club is a purely social gathering, lacking any official connection with the racing world.

‘No woman in her right mind would attend,’ one stalwart tells me. ‘It’s a lot of jolly, red-faced men getting p****d. There’s nothing stopping somebody from setting up another Derby Club.’

The Earl of Derby’s brother Peter Stanley, who runs his family’s stud in Newmarket, describes the policy of not inviting women as ‘constantly under review’, but adds: ‘My wife is a mad-keen racing lady and I’ve discussed it with her many times. She has said that it’s not the sort of occasion she would want to go to.’

This, in turn, has inspired a backlash from some members of the club, which was founded in 1932 and was thereafter regularly addressed by Winston Churchill, a keen Derby Club Dinner attendee

Labour’s Deputy Leader, Angela Rayner, is known for her attacks on the privileged backgrounds of Tory ‘scum’, yet she does seem to enjoy the perks of her position.

Rayner, 42, has just declared in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests that she accepted almost £1,000 worth of free outfits from a U.S. label, Adrianna Papell. ‘Eleven dresses, total value £948,’ she confirms.

He lords over the sumptuous Hovingham Hall in North Yorkshire — the childhood home of his aunt, the Duchess of Kent — and its 3,000-acre estate. 

But Sir William Worsley, 65, is occasionally obliged to rummage down the back of the sofa, as it were, to aid the upkeep of Hovingham, which costs more than £100,000 a year to run. 

Hence, presumably, next month’s Christie’s sale of a 4,500-year-old Egyptian statue given to Sir William’s ancestor by George III. 

It’s estimated to go for £4 million — enough to ensure that Hovingham remains in the family, as it has for the past 450 years. 

TV pundit Francesca welcomes baby Teddy

ITV’s perkiest presenter, racing pundit Francesca Cumani, has given birth to a boy named Teddy.

‘Utterly delicious in every way,’ she says of the baby, whose father is her boyfriend, Ironman triathlete Max Johnson, 37.

Cumani also has a six-year-old son, Harry, by her ex, Australian polo player Rob Archibald.

That marriage fell victim to the couple’s job commitments — Rob is based Down Under while Francesca works here.

The presenter, 39, also dated her ITV Racing co-host Oli Bell for two years before they split in 2020.

ITV’s perkiest presenter, racing pundit Francesca Cumani, has given birth to a boy named Teddy

‘Utterly delicious in every way,’ she says of the baby, whose father is her boyfriend, Ironman triathlete Max Johnson, 37

Trademarking is an art for Madonna’s boy 

Rocco Ritchie, the son of pop queen Madonna and film director Guy Ritchie, has inherited his parents’ creative genes, painting art works that sell for five figures.

Now, I can disclose that the artist, 21, has applied to trademark the monikers he uses, Rhed and Maison Rhed, at the Intellectual Property Office.

His paintings are displayed at the Tanya Baxter Contemporary gallery in Chelsea, alongside works by Banksy, Antony Gormley and Andy Warhol.

‘Rhed’s cultural background is diverse and unconventional,’ his biography states.

Rocco Ritchie, the son of pop queen Madonna and film director Guy Ritchie, has inherited his parents’ creative genes, painting art works that sell for five figures

Georgina will go to the ball… despite dislodging two ribs! 

Talk about adding insult to injury. West End star Georgina Castle starred in two of the final performances of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical, Cinderella, yesterday, despite dislodging two ribs just last week.

‘I’m in tight corsets for the show and I’m moving around, jutting about and dancing, and I think someone squeezed me a little too hard and two of the rib heads just popped out,’ says the actress, 29, who plays a wicked stepsister (pictured).

The daughter of BBC Wimbledon commentator Andrew Castle adds: ‘It was painful, and I still feel a bit battered and bruised now. You don’t want your ribs piercing through. I was really struggling to breathe.’

Lord Lloyd-Webber shocked fans when he announced the production would close this weekend — earlier than planned. So Castle was determined not to miss a show. ‘Obviously, loads of friends and family want to come, so you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do.’

What a trouper!

West End star Georgina Castle starred in two of the final performances of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical, Cinderella, yesterday, despite dislodging two ribs just last week

Sophie hits bullseye on Jubilee trip 

Watch out, Prince Harry! Any more nonsense, and your aunt Sophie will have you in her sights.

Yesterday, the Countess of Wessex, 57, tried her hand at archery during a visit with her husband, Prince Edward, to Gibraltar, where they are celebrating the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

Former public relations boss Sophie’s trip to the Rock has already been eventful. The plane they were on had to make an unscheduled landing due to what was described as a ‘technical issue’.

Yesterday, the Countess of Wessex, 57, tried her hand at archery during a visit with her husband, Prince Edward, to Gibraltar, where they are celebrating the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee

The Royal Family is above such things as commissioning opinion polls, but the Duchess of Cambridge may have learnt a thing or two at a Kensington Palace meeting on Tuesday.

I hear she held talks via video link with Kelly Beaver, chief executive of the polling organisation Ipsos.

A Kensington Palace spokesman declines to comment on what they discussed. No doubt Beaver could have told our future queen that, according to the latest polls, her popularity has rocketed over the past year, with a net favourability rating of +55.

Theresa’s £109k talk 

If Boris Johnson is worried about being forced out of No 10, he can console himself with thoughts of how much he could earn.

His predecessor, Theresa May — who was hardly known for her captivating addresses — has just revealed that she was paid £109,000 for a five-hour speaking engagement.

According to the Register of Members’ Financial Interests, she received the sum last month for a speaking engagement with the Danish Bar and Law Society in Copenhagen.

The former prime minister has reportedly earned more than £2.1 million on the lucrative speaking circuit in the three years since leaving Downing Street.

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