Cefinn Sirens - Aly Vance

We were so excited to spend the day with Aly Vance, TV presenter, journalist (and race day expert!), for the latest in our Cefinn Siren series.

Shot at the famous Queen’s Stand at Epsom Racecourse, Aly styled our Summer 24 collection and Jess Collett Milliner collaboration for the ultimate in race day style while we talked summer event etiquette, her exciting career path, and so much more!

How did you get into the racing world?

I wasn’t born into a racing family but did ride from a young age. I really got into it via the major events like the Cheltenham Festival and Grand National. After leaving Oxford University I tried to make it as a full-time athlete and get to the Olympics in Modern Pentathlon. Sadly, I wasn’t good enough so decided to try and get there as a journalist. Work experience at the BBC led to a full-time job where I persuaded the producer they needed to cover more horse racing. He threw me in the deep end and put me on air every Saturday afternoon. Terrifying and a steep learning curve but in 2016 I was approached by CNN to present their monthly horse racing programme which led to some amazing opportunities around the world.

Favourite thing about your job?

I love the variety of my work. Although I do more horse racing than any other sport, I also present the coverage of Henley Royal Regatta, Windsor Horse Show and have covered the last two Olympics. I love the intensity of presenting live at big events. Strangely, I relish the pressure that brings and feed off the atmosphere and crowd. There’s nothing like being the first person to talk to a newly crowned Olympic Champion or a jockey having just won the biggest race of their career. Their emotion is so palpable.

What is a typical day in your life?

There is no typical day! Since covid I have been freelance so I am employed for individual events or projects. One week I might be working at Cheltenham Festival for four days and the following week I am at home doing the school runs and catching up on the washing. My children are 3 and 5 so when I’m home I’m a full-time mother. In recent years I’ve spent a lot of time abroad during the winter working in the Middle East. I love the mix of travel, work combined with a very normal home life. Packing in the work in the winter means that I can try and be at home for the summer holidays with the kids.

Proudest moment both professionally and personally?

Workwise, it’s hard to narrow it down to one occasion or event. I’ve been lucky to work at two Olympic Games, as well as rugby’s 6 Nations, Premier League football and endless big race meetings. Interviewing Sir Henry Cecil after Frankel’s final run at Ascot was pretty special and I have had some brilliant opportunities presenting CNN Winning Post for very different reasons. From learning to be a jockey and racing at Glorious Goodwood, to swimming (on horseback!) in Sydney. One of my favourite days was riding with gauchos in Uruguay rounding up wild horses.

On a personal level, now looking back, I am pretty proud (surprised) I managed to get a degree from Oxford while training at least 25 hours a week. It’s amazing how much energy you have when you’re 21. Now I’m just happy to get through the day with a 3 and 5-year-old!

Top tips for event-dressing?

I’m so lucky to work in racing where dressing up can be on another level. The Derby was first run in 1780 and with the racecourse’s history, it’s right that the we make a nod to that past on Derby day. In the Queen Elizabeth enclosure, the men wear morning suits while women can wear their most elegant dresses and hats. This is the same for the Royal Enclosure at Ascot. For many people, a day at the races is all about their outfit. For me, elegance is first and foremost with a subtle playful twist. Within reason, I always try and shy away from the normal and add something different or playful to an outfit. So, a bright pair of shoes or some gold or shimmer to an outfit.

How far in advance do you pick your looks for summer events?

I’m conscious of matching a hat to an outfit so I do try to get organised maybe 6 weeks to a month in advance. Big summer race meetings like Royal Ascot and The Derby give a chance to wear some pretty spectacular hats.

Favourite summer event and why?

There are too many to choose from. We are so lucky in Britain to have this incredible summer social season made up of some of the most historic events in the world. The eccentric traditions that make up these events make them like nothing else in the world. I adore the high fashion at Royal Ascot, the striped blazers and quirks of Henley and the relaxed garden party style at Goodwood.

How did you hear about Cefinn?

I had heard of Cefinn in the news when Samantha Cameron set it up but a friend recommended the brand when I was looking for a dress for Royal Ascot. It was about 6 years ago and I chose the Voletta dress in red. It’s so elegant and 6 years later I still wear it and it looks as good as new. I like the fact that if you suit a certain style of dress at Cefinn, more than likely they will produce it in a different print each year. They currently have a darker Voletta dress which would be perfect for winter weddings or christenings.

Why do you love wearing Cefinn for these big events?

So many reasons. Firstly, the pieces are flattering and elegant. They definitely take pounds off as they don’t cling around the tummy, they always have a flattering sleeve and the length of them makes them so elegant and classy. Secondly, they last and are beautifully made. My Voletta dress has passed the suitcase test and just needs to be hung up after being scrunched in a travel bag! Who has time to iron or steam every outfit!? The last thing anyone wants is to turn up at an event wearing the same thing as someone else so I like the fact that they have a limited run of pieces so it’s unlikely you’ll see someone in the same outfit.

Favourite look from our Summer 24 collection?

I am loving the waistcoats, both the linen suit ones but also the cashmere waistcoats that you could wear with a skirt or jeans. When it comes to event dressing, it’s a close contest between all the outfits I wore at Epsom but I think the Mirabel Maxi Dress with Jess Collet’s green and gold headband comes out on top. The high neck and length of the dress is so flattering and I’m a big fan of a bit of gold or shimmer during the day just to be a bit different.

Any hat advice for big events?

You need to wear a hat that fits well and you’re comfortable in all day. Fiddling with a hat constantly isn’t a good look. Lots of milliners now do hat hire or there are some specific hat hire websites which are great as you can then get a mega hat suitable for the occasion. I know milliners are now also revamping old hats or materials so if you have any of old relics then it’s worth taking them along to a milliner who can reuse the materials.

Summer Events Quickfire:


It has to be the hot pink Rosie dress with Jess Collett’s showstopping Hulaniki Hat. Something that will stand out in a crowd!

Chelsea Flower Show

So many beautiful floral dresses to choose from but I like the Viola Maxi Dress paired with some wedges as there’s lots of walking to do.


Definitely the Mirabel Maxi Dress with a green or gold headband. Perfect for day and night.


I like the idea of a long-sleeved shirt dress, like the Stella with a blazer if it’s chilly.

Garden Party

Pretty much all of Cefinn’s dresses would suit the bill but this is a bit different: Lyra Maxi Dress