Nice to meet you: Katie O'Neill, The Ned Prix de Fashion winner 2020

No stranger to fashions in the field runways & sashes both in New Zealand and Australia, Canterbury's Katie O'Neill wowed the judges here at Ellerslie in late February where she was announced winner of The Ned Prix de Fashion.

However, when you take a look at what this busy mother-of-four fits in to her daily schedule, you'd wonder where she even found the time to fit in hunting for her winning raceday outfit, let alone to escape to Auckland to compete in - and win - the national fashions in the field final!

So today, while Katie is well-known for her racing fashion prowess, we thought you might like to learn what else keeps this fun-loving girl so busy that she often has a 4.30am wake-up call, what 'skills' she's not quite mastered and more...

What was your first memory of the races? My first time going to the races was with my good friend who is a racehorse trainer, Tracey Lammas, to the Melbourne Cup for her 30th back in 2011. I was instantly hooked, though it wasn't until 2013 that I started competing in fashions on the field competitions.

Finish this: “A great day at the races is never complete without…”

Hot chips or a hotdog.

You’ve got four gorgeous daughters, a husband, dogs, a dairy farm, horses and more…

What’s a typical day like for you?

I always start my day with a strong coffee! Some mornings I'll be up at 4.30am to milk the cows (thankfully that's only when the staff are away!), but otherwise I'll kick into getting the girls off to school.

Then, I'll head out on the farm where I'll first organise the day with staff & jobs that need doing before I go and answer emails, do accounts & general farm paperwork until it's time to go & get the kids from school.

We'll then squeeze in time to ride the horses until 5pm rolls round when I MUST watch The Chase. After that's finished I'll cook dinner, get the girls settled for the night then hubby & I will have 'our time' which is usually an escape to the gym.

You've just mentioned the gym - what else is your escape?

I have several escapes! As I mentioned, the gym at night with good music is a regular, but I've also got date nights with hubby or a vino at my good friend / neighbour Kate’s. Come June, when the cows are dried off, we would normally try to get away somewhere warm - usually Hawaii or Australia!

Aside from the strong coffee, what is it that gets you up in the mornings - particularly on those early start days?

The photo's on her gram so... we posted it?

Between August and November it's full-on as it's calving time so I'm up working from 4.30am and getting back into the house at 6pm. I must say, the girls are amazing through this time and they [the older three] all help. They are independent, hard workers and are all on the pay role. My 14yr old could just about run the place!

What keeps me going is setting new goals every year and having the determination to be better than I was during 12 months prior.

You won NZ’s national fashions in the field final, The Ned Prix de Fashion, here on Vodafone Derby Day in late February. You looked so polished on the runway and clearly blew the judges away.

Do you have any interesting behind-the-scenes tidbits you can share from that day or any others?

Good question, as it seems to be a common theme for me to always have some type of malfunction!

Katie O'Neill winning The Ned Prix de Fashion at Ellerslie in February 2020
On the runway with THAT earring and THOSE shoes and still managing to win the national racewear title!

I'll never forget this year on the big day at Ellerslie! We were in the car outside my friend's place & ready to roll when my daughter noticed the middle part of my earring was missing. Not just any part too, but the yellow part - an extremely important detail!

I was like, "OMG NO!" and ran back inside, found some yellow paint and tried to cover over what was now an empty hole. I asked my friends if they thought people would notice, hoping they would say no - but I got the whole "eeek!" look and realised it was never going to work. Fortunately my friend Ali found the missing piece on the floor so, with the help of some super glue, we managed to fix it in the car on the way to the racecourse.

Oh and we also did a last minute transformation of some red, pointy shoes into pink &

brown ones.

Katie getting 'fixed' by a fellow entrant at the Adelaide Cup