A day at the horse racing is one of the most quintessentially British days out. If you’ve never been before though, it can be a little bit daunting trying to figure out the order of things, what you might need to wear and how everyone just seems to know what they’re doing all the time? Thankfully for you, we’ve created this rundown of everything you could possibly need to know to ensure that you get the very most out of your horse racing experience. Glass of champagne and fascinator at the ready, it’s going to be a great day out.
What To Wear
Before you even begin your day, you’ll need to think about what to wear. Dress codes vary not just from racecourse to racecourse, but also from festival to festival at the same course.
So, before you decide on your wardrobe it’s key to decide which race day you’ll be attending.
Larger events that hold more prestige tend to require a more formal wardrobe, for example if you’re looking at Epsom Derby dates then you’ll need to follow a smart casual dress code at least. Once you’ve decided on your day, then it’s time to get planning.
Ladies, whatever the dress code, if you’re wearing heels then get some turf stoppers. These little plastic caps fit over the top of a stiletto heel and stop you from sinking into the turf and ruining the heel.
Other than that, go as classic or as crazy as you like. There are always people dressed in a timeless style, but increasingly you’ll see really fashion-forward looks on the course.
Men should opt for jeans, proper shoes and a smart shirt at the very least, though if you’re going to one of the more exclusive days then you might even be required to wear a top hat, so remember to check.
In order to let your individuality shine through in your outfit, you could opt for a subtle wrist accessory, or a colourful scarf or tie.
The Order Of The Day
Arrive well ahead of the first race so that you can familiarise yourself with the course. You’ll want to find out where the finishing post is, a good spot in the grandstand, the location of the toilets and where you can find refreshments.
If you plan on having a bet then either making sure you’ve got an app downloaded to your phone, finding the on-course bookmakers, or using the Tote is essential.
To begin with, make your way to the pre-parade ring, to see the horses before they’re saddled up. Next, you’ll head to the parade ring, to watch the horses walk around and the jockeys get aboard.
Once you’ve seen everyone in the parade ring, make your bets if you’re planning on it and then find your spot to watch the race.
The grandstand affords the best view of the whole track, but standing by the winning post and feeling the thunder of hooves come past is quite a feeling.
After the race, the horses who came first, second, and third will make their way to the winner’s enclosure.
Then, once the jockeys have been weighed in the final announcement of the winner will be made and you can collect your bets if you picked the right horse. Once that’s all over, it’s time to start again.
There are lots of different methods for placing a bet, some people like to pick a horse with a name that’s funny, or sentimental to them. Some people bet only on favourites, or rank outsiders.
Serious punters will study form properly and look for the horse that they feel represents the best value. The final group of people are known as paddock judges and they’ll spend most of their time at the parade and pre-parade rings.
If you want to try your hand at paddock judging then you’ll need to know how to look for a fit horse. Well-defined muscles, particularly on the rear, the chest and the top of the neck are good indicators.
You’ll also want to see a heave line on the stomach and just a light covering over the ribs. A glossy coat, a relatively calm demeanour and an even gate are also good indicators.