Prix de Diane Longines: The most elegant garden party in the world?

CNN  — 

High fashion, breathtaking architecture and the world’s best horses – there is nothing quite like the Prix de Diane Longines.

One of the jewels of European racing, it tests the very finest fillies in the world but Sunday’s event, dripping in glitz and glamor, is so much more than sport.

It’s also an opportunity for spectators to bask in the sophistication of a Parisian race day, where the outfits and hats are as much in focus as the horses.

The timeless Chantilly Racecourse offers a fairytale setting for the festival of racing, with the overlooking Grand Chateau one of the most spectacular historical monuments in the world.

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The race course passes Chantilly's iconic Great Stables.
Visitors can picnic in the middle of the track and enjoy the infamous garden party.

Timeless Chantilly

The Grand Chateau has origins dating back to the 16th century, but was rebuilt after it was destroyed during the French Revolution. The neighboring Petit Chateau was also built in the 16th century.

Chantilly features three interlinked tracks surrounded by breathtaking woodland and the featured grandstand, which has sat proudly since 1879.

The spectacular venue has hosted the prestigious Prix du Jockey Club (the French Derby) since 1836 and the Prix de Diane (French Oaks) since 1843.

Chantilly also hosted the celebrated Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in 2016 and 2017 while the race’s traditional Longchamp home underwent a rejuvenation.

Chantilly’s Great Stables, which border the track, are also said to be one of the most beautiful sites in racing.

Built in 1719, originally to serve the Chateau estate, the stables are now home to the famous Museum of the Horse.

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Garden Party

Due to its proximity to Paris, a race day at Chantilly attracts the cream of French society, with punters looking to escape the city.

Awaiting them is a festival of culture and al fresco entertainment, where visitors are encouraged to picnic in the middle of the track and enjoy the live music and chic craft stalls.

As well as watching the world-class racing on display, visitors are also invited to take part in a catwalk where the most elegant dresser wins a host of prizes.

Sunday’s Prix de Diane is the highlight on a nine-race card and is otherwise known as the French Oaks – in reference to the English fillies’ Classic at Epsom the day before the Derby.

The contest is a 2,100-meter (1 mile 2½ furlongs) race for three-year-old fillies and the winner often takes part in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe later on in the year.

The course includes an exhausting uphill home straight where many races are won and lost.

Last year’s champion Laurens scooped her connections $662,000 and this year is set for yet another tight contest with a $1.13m prize purse up for grabs.