What You Need to Know for a Day at the Races

The bookies are finalising their odds, the champagne’s on ice, and the horses are chomping at the bit to run like the wind. The British horseracing season is well under way.

From the Qatar Goodwood Festival to Ebor Meeting, Newmarket July Festival and Sprint Cup. Supposedly everyone who’s anyone will be there. Horseracing’s Britain’s second biggest spectator sport, with over six million cheering from the side-lines last year.

Given the thundering hooves and your chance to win big on a flutter, it’s easy to get swept away with the glamour of the spectacle.

Dress to Impress


When eyes aren’t on the course, they’ll be admiring everyone’s outfit. Try not to overthink it. Your specific dress code depends on the horserace and the enclosure you have a ticket for. Some are more relaxed than others. But as a general rule jeans, miniskirts or anything sheer isn’t welcome. This is a special occasion after all.

King Edward VII described Glorious Goodwood as a “garden party with a race tacked on”, so that’s what you’re aiming for. Think informal elegance. A friend’s summer wedding – but where you can wear a white lace dress without upstaging the bride. Floral frocks with nude heels are a horserace staple. But whatever your style, long and short-sleeved dresses or skirts should fall as close to your knees as possible.

Low-ish or wedge type heels and sandals trump sky high stilettos when you’re standing around all afternoon.


You gents need to smarten up in a suit and tie, complete with a waistcoat in the high-end enclosures. Leave your cravats, collarless shirts, trainers and jeans at home for another day. Try something other than your 9-5 office get up.

Play it safe with a classic linen suit. Swap your plain fabrics for patterned. Or mix and match your jacket and trousers, into complementary combinations. Preppy looks are the bread and butter of the horseracing world. We’re talking dark blue or navy trousers worn with a grey jacket and a light blue shirt, or light beige trousers with a navy jacket and classic white shirt. Don’t forget that tie.

With Dubai holidays, among other prizes, up for grabs for the ‘best dressed’ winners at some races, it pays to make the extra effort! Dressing up is part of the excitement. Match your shoes with your belt, show a little shirt cuff, and get your suit inexpensively tailored. If your jacket has two buttons, fasten the top. Or the middle of three buttons.

Top it off with a Hat


You can go to town here, and really have fun with some outlandish headgear! Very, John Lewis and Next have a great selection! Bright coloured accessories will lift an otherwise neutral outfit.

Horserace venues are a sticklers for detail. When you’re in the Grandstand, they often ask that you wear your hat at all times. While private boxes give you the luxury of taking it off when you fancy. Traditionally, men’s Panama or top hats sit low over the brow on a slight tilt. While ladies’ wide brimmed hats or fascinators should go down to the right, up to the left.

Place Your Bets


Don’t waste your ‘Beginner’s Luck’ backing a slow horse! A ‘Swinger Bet’ is a good choice for a newbie. Have a little flutter on the two horses that you reckon will place in the first three. Or try a ‘Place Pot’, which allows you to pick a horse to place in the first six races – it’ll keep you on the edge of your seat all day.