If you’re a sports fan seeking a new experience or somebody who simply wants to expand their repertoire of social hobbies, a day at the horse racing might just be for you.
Let’s break it down: it’s a chance to dress up in your finery (if you want to), enjoy some high-speed competitive action on the track, and maybe have a bite to eat with your family/friends/work colleagues.
A day at the races certainly ticks plenty of the boxes!
So, if you’re a complete newcomer to the sport, here’s a quick guide on how to make the most of your first foray into horse racing.
Pick Up a Racecard
The first thing you’ll want to do is pick up a racecard when you arrive at the venue.
This will detail the times of each race, so you can plan your socializing around the action out on the track. The card will also detail the horse race betting odds, so if you are attending the Breeders Cup meeting, for example, you would see that Paddington is the +400 favorite for the Mile race ahead of Master of the Seas (+500) and Inspiral (+500).
It’s also worth checking today’s racing results from the races prior to the one that you are planning to wager on. This shows you which trainers, owners, and jockeys are ‘in form’, with some enjoying a particular fondness for success at specific tracks.
The racecard may also reveal any post-race entertainment that the venue is laying on, with live music and comedy potentially on the schedule depending on which meeting you attend.
Dress to Impress
There is something of a misconception about a day at the races: you don’t always have to dust off your best dinner suit in order to be granted admittance to the venue.
It’s true that some race meetings have a formal dress code – at Royal Ascot in the UK, for example, there is still a requirement for men to wear collars and cuffs, and women to slip into a knee-length (minimum) dress and decorative hat.
But otherwise, it’s rare that a dress code is implemented – many racetracks have done away with that in a bid to make the sport more accessible to all.
You should always check with the venue before setting off, of course, as this is the easiest way to eliminate any potential sartorial faux pas that you might make. Often your tickets will detail any dress requirements that are in place too.
Strong Shoes (And an Umbrella)
Some racetrack venues have invested heavily in their facilities, so you’ll have a chance to kick back in luxurious surroundings in between races.
However, this isn’t universally the case, and in fact, some racecourses are actually rather – shall we say – minimalist in their approach.
That can mean that you will spend periods of time on your feet, and with shelter minimal that could leave you exposed to inclement weather conditions too.
So the advice of seasoned race day attendees is to wear a solid pair of shoes – ones that will prove resistant to rain, mud, and the cold weather. And given that the grandstands at your chosen venue may be small, with every seat already taken, packing an umbrella is a must as well.
Take It All In
There’s so much more going on at a raceday than simply the action out on the track.
Before the horses have even been led to the starting line, they are typically shown off in the parade ring. This is open to racegoers, so go and see these magnificent animals close up in all their glory – you may even get some betting hints and tips if you spot a horse that looks to be in fantastic condition.
And once the race is over, the winning horse and jockey will usually make their way down to the winners’ enclosure. You can join in the celebrations and watch the winning owner be presented with their trophy and/or prize money.
So there you have it: there’s plenty to enjoy at a day at the races… whatever the weather!