Category Archives: Introduction to Horse Racing

A condensed history of UK horse racing

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Horse racing is possibly one of the oldest sports in the UK, with recorded races dating back to around the 12th century. English knights returned from the crusades, bringing with them noble Arab horses to breed with domesticated English horses. The result of this breeding was the thoroughbred, which is the horse still used in racing to this day.

Horse racing as a spectator sport began under the reign of Charles II and became a professional sport in the early years of the 18th century, when Queen Anne opened several racecourses, including Ascot.

From the days of Charles II to the present day, we’ve put together this timeline of horse racing in the UK:

  • 1660-1685 – King Charles II begins to race two horses against each other at a time in open fields or on private courses. Prizes begin to be awarded to winners. Newmarket becomes the first UK venue for horse races.
  • 1702-1714 – Under Queen Anne, horse racing evolves from a two-horse match sport to professional races involving several horses which spectators could bet on. Several dedicated racecourses are opened and Ascot is founded by the Queen in 1711.
  • 1750 – The Jockey Club is established among the horse racing elite at Newmarket.
  • 1791 – An Introduction to a General Stud Book is first published by James Weatherby.
  • 1793 – Weatherby begins to use the General Stud Book to record the pedigree of every single foal born to a race horse. Thoroughbreds can all be traced back to one of three ‘Foundation sires’ – stallions Byerley Turk, Darley Arabian or Godolphin Arabian. These records are still kept.
  • 1815 – The five ‘classic’ races of British horseracing are established: the 2,000 Guineas Stakes, 1,000 Guineas Stakes, Epsom Oaks, Epsom Derby, and St Leger Stakes.
  • 1839 – The first widely recognised Grand National takes place at Aintree. The aptly-named winner Lottery is ridden to victory by jockey Jem Mason.
  • 1866 – The National Hunt Committee is established
  • 1928 – The Tote is established as the only UK organisation entitled to run pool betting on racing.
  • 1947 – The first use of the photo finish happens in the 1947 flat season.
  • 1950s and 1960s – Television follows on from newspapers in popularising horse racing.
  • 1961 – Betting shops away from the racecourse are legalised. More than 10,000 open up across the UK in the first six months.
  • 1965 – Starting stalls are first introduced for flat races.
  • 1973-1977 – Perhaps the most famous racehorse ever, Red Rum makes history by winning the Grand National three times in five years. Red Rum won in 1973, 1974 and 1977 and came second in 1975 and 1976.
  • 2000 – The first online betting shops open, allowing punters to gamble on horse racing from the comfort of their own homes.

Horse racing is the second most-watched televised sport in the UK after football. With history as a professional sport in the UK dating back more than three centuries so far, it would seem that the popularity of horse racing is still not waning.

how to place a bet on horses

How to place a bet on horse races

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Betting on the horses can be a fun and exciting past-time, provided you only bet what you can afford to lose. There are three main ways to bet on the horses – at the track, in a betting shop or online, and each is slightly different.

With any bet, however, it often pays to shop around to get the best odds for your selection by comparing different bookies, shops or websites before making your final decision.

How to bet on horses online

To place a bet online you will usually have to open an account, but once you do you will be able to place your bets from the comfort of your own home with all the information you need at your fingertips.

One advantage to online betting is that the minimum stakes are often a lot lower than at the racecourse or in the betting shop. Be sure to read the terms and conditions before you sign up.

You need to know what the minimum deposit and withdrawal amounts are, if there are any maximum payouts, whether they accept your preferred credit or debit card, and any other rules that might affect your decision.

As an added incentive, many online bookmakers offer deposit match schemes for your first deposit, such as make a £10 bet and get another £10 bet for free.

Whether you prefer to size up the different bookies by the trackside or decide between the horses online, placing a bet on a horse race is easy. Whatever form your receipt takes (an email or a betting slip), keep a tight hold on it – you might need it if your horse performs well!

Placing a bet in a betting shop

To place a bet in a betting shop you need to collect a slip. These are usually stored on counters or in wall brackets.

Fill in the slip with the name of the racecourse or meeting, the time of the race you wish to bet on, the name of your selected horse, the amount you wish to stake and the type of bet that you are placing.

You then hand this to the cashier and receive a receipt, often a photocopy of your slip. You will need this in order to collect your winnings if your horse comes in, so hold onto it carefully.

Placing a bet at the racecourse

There are usually lots of bookies at the racecourse and they will all be set up in a row close by one another. This makes it easy to wander up and down to find the best odds for your bet.

Once you have made your selection and found the best odds, simply approach the bookmaker and state clearly the number of the horse, the type of bet you wish to make and the amount of your stake. Remember that each-way bets are double, so if you ask for a £2 each-way bet it will cost you £4.

Bookies at the racecourse only take bets for the next upcoming race so you will have to go back each time, but you won’t need to state which race you want to bet on. Be sure to hang onto your ticket as that’s the only way you can claim your winnings.

Other than at the Tote, you will usually only be able to place win and each-way bets with most bookies. There will be a minimum bet, which is usually £2 but some bookies will take £1 bets – if so, they will advertise this.

Horse racing odds explained

Horse racing takes place up and down the country every day of the year apart from Christmas Day.
Racing can generally be split into two seasons – the jumps and the flat. All-weather racing, on the other hand, goes on all year round.
To work out which bet you want to make, you’re likely to want to look at four main factors.

  • The form of the horse
  • The type of ground
  • The distance
  • The Class of the race

These four elements will make a difference to the price of a horse before the start of a race.
Horses can be stepped up or down in distance which then alters the stamina they require in order to win a contest.
Likewise, a sharp change in the weather conditions can dramatically alter the odds of a horse. A horse that prefers running on Good to Firm is going to be longer odds if the ground has been confirmed as Heavy.
Finally, the Class indicates the level a horse is running at. If a horse that has won in Group or Graded company (the highest level) steps down in class, their odds will likely shorten.

Weights, especially in handicap races, should also be considered.

Types of horse racing betting

There are several different ways you can bet on horse racing.

The most straightforward of these is picking an outright winner. If you place £10 on a horse at 4/1 and it crosses the line first, you win £50 (£40 winnings, plus your stake).

Each-way betting is another popular way of staking on races. It involves placing two wagers on the same horse in a single bet. A £5 each-way bet consists of £5 on a horse to win and £5 on a horse to place, creating a total stake of £10.

This way, even if your horse fails to win, you could still get a return on your bet if it finishes in the runner-up positions.

If your selection comes home in the place positions you will be paid out at 1/4 or 1/5 of your horse’s original odds. This is often dependent on how many horses run in the race.  Bigger renewals like the Grand National offer more places and more chances to win for speculative punters.

Forecast betting involves picking the 1st and 2nd horse home. This can be straight, reverse or in any order.

You can also pick horses to go into a traditional win accumulator, although with horse racing there are also variations available.

A Trixie consists of three doubles and a treble, while a Yankee has four selections with 11 separate bets; six doubles, four trebles and a straight four-fold.

Canadian, Heinz, Lucky 15, Lucky 31 and Lucky 63 are other variants that comprise a multitude of different bets within them.

Would you like to bet on one of the biggest horse racing events in the UK? Check out our complete guide with all information and betting tips for Grand National 2018

What are the different types of betting in horse racing?

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There are many different types of bet that you can place on a horse. The benefit of this is that you have plenty of options, but of course this could be confusing if you don’t have much experience of betting. Some options are highly risky and others are much more likely to see a return – but how do you determine which one to go for?

Learning what each type of bet means, how risky it is and how high the expected returns can be helps spectators enjoy their betting experience much more. The following glossary of the types of bets on horse racing should help you learn how to bet on horses depending on your capacity for risk.

Always remember though, there is no such thing as a guaranteed win so you should only ever bet what you can afford to lose.

horse racing betting types

Win – Betting on a horse to win means you only get paid if the horse comes first. Full odds are paid if the selection wins.

Place – A place bet usually means you are betting fractional odds that a horse will come in the top three. With five to seven horses racing, place bets only pay on the first two, or with 16 or more in a handicap race the first four places are paid.

Each-way – An each-way bet is effectively two bets: one win and one place. Each bet is even, so a £1 each-way bet costs £2. If the horse wins, both stakes are paid. If the horse places, the £1 place stake is paid but the £1 win stake is lost.

After this, things begin to get a little more complicated. There are a variety of multiple bets that offer higher returns but these are also higher risk.

Accumulator – With an accumulator bet you make a number of selections. If the first one wins, those winnings are automatically placed on the next selection and so on. All selections must win for the bet to be paid out. Accumulators can be doubles (two selections), trebles (three selections), four-fold (four selections), five-fold, and so on.

Trixie – A trixie is made up of four bets choosing three selections, all in different events. Two of your selections need to win for you to see a return, and the bets are three doubles and one treble. So, if your selections were X, Y and Z, your bets would be XY, XZ, YZ and XYZ.

Patent – A patent is similar to a trixie but with seven bets: three singles, three doubles, and a treble. So, as above, your bets would be XY, XZ, YZ and XYZ but also X, Y and Z. Any one successful selection pays a return.

Yankee – A yankee is 11 bets over four selections, with two having to be successful to pay out. It consists of six doubles, four trebles and a four-fold accumulator.

Lucky 15 – A lucky 15 is 15 bets over four selections, consisting of an accumulator, four trebles, six doubles and four singles. One win pays out at double odds, and if all four win this adds a bonus of 10% to returns.

These are just a few of the ways of betting on horse racing. What type of bet you choose will depend on whether you can afford to make a risky bet for potentially higher returns or prefer to make a lower risk bet for smaller returns.

Betting Slips

Horse racing betting tips for beginners

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Betting on the horses is a great way to make a day out even more exciting. The jubilation when your horse romps home, the disappointment when it comes in last, all combined with the chance to win some cold hard cash – betting makes the racing much more personal and much more entertaining.

For beginners, the betting system can seem mysterious and complex, and indeed it often is. However, just a little knowledge about odds, form and other factors and the most basic and popular types of bet is enough to get you started.

How do odds work?

Odds are the chances a horse has of winning a particular race. They are usually expressed as two figures with a forward slash in the middle, such as ‘8/1’. The lower the odds the higher chance a horse has of winning but the lower the pay out if it does.

For example, a £1 bet at 4/1 that wins will result in returns of £5 – the £1 stake back plus 4 times that stake as winnings. A £1 bet on a horse at 100:1 odds would pay out £101 in total. However, the horse at 100/1 is highly unlikely to win, while the horse at 4/1 has a very good chance.

Basic betting types

For a beginner it is usually best to stick to two types of bet: win and each-way. A win bet is placed at full odds and pays out as shown above if that horse wins. An each-way bet is a little more complicated but a little less risky.

Essentially, each-ways bets are two bets in one. So, a £1 each-way bet costs £2, made up of a £1 win bet and a £1 place bet. The place bet (backing a horse to come as a runner-up) pays out at fractional odds, usually ¼ of the full odds. If the horse wins, both bets are honoured. If the horse places, only the £1 place bet pays, with the £1 win bet lost.

If the odds are 7/1 or less, it may be worth exploring some of your other betting options, as they may have better returns on low-odds horses than an each-way bet.

Betting on the Grand National

The Grand National is the one race of the year where thousands of people who never otherwise gamble might turn out to place a bet. It is also the race where each-way bets make the most sense. Find out here more Grand national betting tips for 2018

With a field of around 40 runners and the treacherous fences to jump, even a clear favourite isn’t always going to finish in the top places.

Understanding form

Fully understanding factors such as form, going etc. takes time and practice, but it always helps to read a little about the horse you have chosen before placing your bet.

Check out the newspaper or racecard to see what the experts have to say before making your selections. The more you read, the more you will come to understand.

If all else fails, pick your favourite name, number or colour – so long as you don’t bet more than you can afford to lose the excitement is still the same.

Placing a bet on a race can up the ante in terms of excitement, giving you more to shout about as the horses charge towards the finish post. If you’re a beginner in the world of betting, this advice can help you figure out how to pick the best horse on the day.

Click here to know more about how to bet on horse racing

Horse racing jargon buster

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Horse racing is a fascinating sport populated with a whole lot of jargon that can make it seem mysterious and intimidating to the first-time spectator or bettor.

To help cut through the mystery, here’s a horse racing jargon buster to clarify the meaning of some of the most commonly used horse racing terms.

  • Abandoned – This means the race has been called off, usually due to weather conditions. All bets placed are refunded.
  • Accumulator bet – This is a type of multiple bet in which any winnings are rolled over to the next bet. All bets placed must come in for the bettor to win.
  • AWT – All weather terrain, a synthetic track that can be run in any weather.
  • Book – Record of all bets placed on a race.
  • Bookmaker or Bookie – The company or person licensed to take bets.
  • Classic – An historic group of flat races run by three-year-olds.
  • Colours – The silks or jacket and hat worn by the jockey to help spectators identify him/her.
  • Conditions race – A type of race where horses are assigned extra weight according to their previous win record.
  • Dead heat – When two horses finish simultaneously to win the race. Half the stake on any bets is paid out at full odds with the other half lost.
  • Dividend – The amount the bettor receives for every £1 of a winning bet.
  • Draw – The starting position in the stalls in a flat race.
  • Each-way bet – A bet in which half the total stake is placed at full odds to win and the other half at fractional odds to place (come in the top three, four or five depending on the number of horses racing).
  • Evens – Odds of 1/1. The winning bettor receives £1, plus his £1 stake back for every £1 bet.
  • Favourite – The horse with shortest odds (most likely to win).
  • Flat racing – Racing a course without jumps or obstacles.
  • Furlong – A measurement of racecourse. One furlong is 220m.
  • Going – The condition of the track, ranging from heavy to firm.
  • Handicap – A race in which horses are assigned a certain weight to carry to make the race more even.
  • Hurdles – Obstacles on a jump course which are smaller than fences.
  • Length – A measurement unit of about 8 feet or approximately the length of one horse. You might hear a horse is four lengths ahead, for example.
  • National Hunt – The official name of jumps racing.
  • Nonrunner – A horse which has been withdrawn from a race.
  • Nose – Officially the smallest distance a horse can win a race by.
  • Odds – The chances of a horse winning.
  • Outsider – A horse that is unlikely to win with long odds.
  • Racecard – The programme of racing for the day.
  • Starting price – The final odds as the race begins.
  • Steeplechase – Racing over jumps.
  • Under starters’ orders – The moment all horses are ready and the race is about to start.
  • Weighing in/out – Before and after every race each jockey in full gear and carrying their saddle is weighed to make sure they are carrying the right weight.

There are many more horse racing words but with this list you should be able to understand enough to enjoy the day and have a little flutter.

The going: Explained

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The going is one of the most crucial factors that can affect how well a particular horse will run, yet a large majority of horse racing spectators do not truly understand it. The going refers to the state of the ground as it has been affected by the weather and there are seven recognised states.

What is the going?

The seven recognised going descriptions in Britain are:

  • Hard
  • Firm
  • Good to firm
  • Good
  • Good to soft
  • Soft
  • Heavy

The going is determined by how much moisture there is in the ground and an official steward will assess the going on the morning of each race meeting. Influencing factors include soil type, surface density, compaction, porosity and surface material, which could be turf, dirt or artificial (all-weather track).

A hard grade is very rarely used – tracks that are determined as hard are seen as being too dangerous for the horses and the jockeys. Soft going is more tiring and therefore means that horses are more likely to fall, although they are also less likely to hurt themselves if they do fall.

What effect does the going have?

Horses will run in particular ways that make them better suited to certain types of ground than others. Experienced racing fans will know to consider a horse’s previous performance on tracks with similar going to those of the race day, and use this to predict how likely it is that the horse will perform well.

Some horses with a flatter gallop action will prefer hard or firm going, whereas others that have a higher, more rounded gallop often prefer tracks that are softer, as their hooves are hitting the ground from higher up. A horse that has won its last three races on firm going may well not do nearly as well on a day when the going is soft and vice versa.

How is the going measured?

The going is assessed by a steward, but in the UK since 2009 the steward has also been obliged to use a device called a penetrometer. The specific type of penetrometer used in British horse racing is the GoingStick, which measures the strength of the soil in order to help determine the going.

The going is just one of many factors that spectators can use to help make an informed decision about which horse to back, and it can make all the difference to the outcome of the race. Click here to know more about how to bet on horse racing.

What are the main horse racing events in the UK? 

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The UK plays host to some of the most prestigious, exciting and respected horse racing events on the global calendar. From the Grand National to Royal Ascot, Cheltenham Festival to the King George VI Chase, millions of people flock to the racetracks or tune in on the television or radio to discover which horse and rider will be victorious each year.

If you’re looking for more details about the key races, such as when the Grand National is held or where Royal Ascot is, read on for an overview of some of the greatest UK horse racing events in the calendar.

The Grand National

The Grand National is the most famous jump horse race in the world, attracting spectators ranging from betting experts to those who gamble just once a year and pick their favourite name or colour.

Held in early spring at Aintree in Liverpool, this iconic race is watched by over 500 million people around the world. Dubbed the ‘ultimate test for horse and rider’, this huge event is known for challenging jumps such as The Chair and Beecher’s Brook.

Famous winners include the legendary record-breaking three-time champ Red Rum, who is today buried by the winning post to commemorate his great success.

Royal Ascot

Ascot Racecourse is one of the UK’s leading courses and host to Royal Ascot, the centrepiece showcase of the year which dates back to 1711.

Taking place over five days in June, Royal Ascot features a number of popular races, from the longest flat race of the season in the Ascot Gold Cup to the premier five-furlong King’s Stand Stakes and many more.

Attended each year by members of the British Royal Family, the Royal Enclosure has a strict dress code for both men and women and therefore attracts those who want to be seen as well as see. Ascot also hosts many other top racing events throughout the year.

Cheltenham Festival

The phrase ‘Cheltenham Roar’ was coined to describe the excitement of the crowds that attend the Cheltenham Festival, held annually over four days in March. It usually coincides with St. Patrick’s Day, which makes it highly popular with Irish visitors.

Race prize money totals are second only to the Grand National, with thousands of bettors gambling hundreds of millions of pounds over the course of the event. Top races include the Cheltenham Gold Cup, World Hurdle and Champion Hurdle, with the Ladbrokes World Hurdle (known as Stayer’s Hurdle between 1972 and 2005) the oldest race still run at the event, inaugurated in 1912.

Other events

There are many other exciting races held in the UK throughout the year. The famous Epsom Derby and the final classic of the year, the St Leger in Doncaster, are highly popular flat racing events.

For jump racing, the Hennessy Gold Cup is the richest handicap race outside of the Grand Nationals in England and Scotland. The King George VI Chase held every Boxing Day at Kempton Park requires a unique combination of jumping and staying ability, attracting multiple winners such as Kauto Star who has won five times and Desert Orchid with four wins.

The H-list: Stars of the horse racing world

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As one of the oldest and most popular sports in the UK and across the world, horse racing has produced more than its fair share of superstars.

From the time of its professional origins there have been famous horses and famous jockeys that have captured the hearts of the public and stood out as truly excellent. It’s impossible to list every outstanding achievement, so here we have gathered a few of the best.

Seabiscuit – 1933–1947

Seabiscuit inspired an entire generation and beyond with his ‘underdog to top dog’ story back in the first half of the 20th century. Descended from Man o’War, a famous successful racehorse, it initially seemed that Seabiscuit had inherited none of his father’s talent.

Losing badly in 17 consecutive races, he was sold off to Tom Smith in 1936. Smith recognised potential in the horse, and used a combination of innovative training methods to attempt to bring out the best in him. It worked, and Seabiscuit went on to become the US’s most dominant handicap horse racer.

After defeating the 1/4 favourite War Admiral in a match race, the once despaired-of Seabiscuit was named Horse of the Year in 1938.

Lester Piggott – 1945–1994 (racing years)

Known to many as the most outstanding jockey of all time, Lester Piggott raced from the age of 10 until finishing his career at the grand old age of 59.

An inspiration to jockeys everywhere, Piggott still claims the title of youngest ever jockey to ride more than 100 winners in a single season. He also won the Epsom Derby nine times which remains a record to this day, the Ascot Gold Cup on 11 occasions, 10 July Cups, and eight St Leger’s Stakes races, over a career spanning more than 45 years.

The racing industry awards The Lesters were named in his honour.

Red Rum – 1965–1995

Born with a debilitating bone condition, Red Rum was bred to compete in races of just over a mile.

The combination of this condition and this training are what made it so astonishing when he made history by becoming the only horse to win the 4 mile, 4 furlong Grand National three times. Even more amazing, he was either winner or runner-up for five consecutive years between 1973 and 1977.

Red Rum surprised everyone by living to the age of thirty and completing 100 races without ever sustaining a fall.

Frankie Dettori – 1983–present (racing years)

Lanfranco Dettori, better known to race-goers as Frankie, quit school aged 13 in order to pursue his career as a jockey.

Moving to the UK from his native Italy in 1985 to train at Newmarket under Luca Cumani, Dettori immediately set about making history. The only teenager since Piggott to win over 100 races in a season, Dettori has since taken victory in almost every race on the UK calendar.

His most memorable achievement to date has to be winning all seven races at Royal Ascot in a single day in 1996, a performance which is so far unrivalled.

There are many more riders and jockeys who could have made this list, but these four truly stand out as some of the most memorable and talented of all time.

What are the different types of horse racing?

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In the UK there are two main types of competitive horse racing. These are Flat and National Hunt. National Hunt racing can be further divided into several sub-categories including, confusingly, one flat racing category.

The different types of horse racing each offer different thrills and variations for the horses, riders, spectators and bettors alike.

Flat racing

As made clear from the name, flat racing takes place on courses where there are no obstacles to jump over. Flat races are run over distances that vary from a minimum of five furlongs to the 2 mile, 5 furlong Queen Alexandra Stakes, which takes place at the Royal Ascot Festival and is the longest flat race in the UK.

Generally, the more experienced the horse, the longer the races they will participate in. However, the most prestigious flat races on the calendar are typically those run over the middle distances, such as the five ‘Classic’ British races.

Shorter races are known as ‘sprints’, longer races as ‘stayers’.

National Hunt racing

National Hunt racing is usually defined as racing in which horses are required to jump over obstacles. There are races known as National Hunt Flat races, often called ‘bumpers’, but these are designed to provide experience to novice horses who have not yet raced.

The two main sub-divisions of National Hunt races are fences, otherwise known as Steeplechases, and hurdles. Hurdle obstacles are smaller but with a minimum height of one metre, and are designed to cause minimal falling or injury.

Steeplechases are much more challenging, with obstacles of at least 1.4m high. These obstacles are also more solid, as well as being varied, with features such as ditches and water jumps.

Grading for age and experience

In both flat and National Hunt racing, each particular race is graded according to factors, such as the age and experience of the horses that can compete. Flat races are divided into Classics races, handicaps, and Conditions races.

Within Condition races, the weight a horse must carry depends on how many wins it has achieved. Horse who have won under 20 races, for example, will carry significantly less weight than those who have won between 40 and 75.

There are two subcategories within Conditions races: Listed and Patterns, the latter of which is split into three groups – 1, 2, and 3.

Handicap races involve horses being given different weights according to their ability: better horses carry heavier weights, and less experienced or able horses carry lighter ones.

There are five Classic races per season and only three-year-olds are allowed to compete. In Class 1 racing each race has certain conditions about the weight a horse must carry, hence these also being often referred to as Conditions races. Classes 2-7 descend in order of importance and the official handicap of the horse determines which class he or she can race in.

National Hunt races are also graded into Classes, and just as in flat racing, Classes 2-7 are divided by horse quality as according to handicap. Class 1 races, however, of which all the major NH races are, are further divided into three Grades.

There are just 30 Grade 1 races each season, and these include the Cheltenham Gold Cup and the King George VI Chase.

The various types of horse races offer different experiences for horses and spectators alike. However, whether flat races are more your cup of tea or you prefer a hurdle jump, each race offers the opportunity to get you on the edge of your seat as the horses make their way towards the finishing post.

Choosing the perfect outfit for Ladies’ Day

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Ladies’ Day at the races is as much about the fashion as it is about the horses. From locals to celebrities, everyone chooses their Ladies’ Day outfits with care in a bid to be crowned the best dressed and win an exciting prize package.

Fashions come and go and every year will see slightly different trends, but there are certain rules and guidelines that remain the same year in and year out.

It’s all about the hat

No matter what the particular fashion, Ladies’ Day at the races is always an opportunity to wear that big, bold hat you wouldn’t wear anywhere else. The hat should always complement the outfit but there are few rules other than that.

Some like to go all out with a huge headpiece, while others prefer a more tastefully understated hat. Ladies’ Day hats have in recent years come to be replaced by the fascinator by many, giving you plenty of options for head-wear.

Whatever your preference, wear your hat with pride and you won’t go far wrong!

The dress

No matter what the fashions of the day, there will always be plenty of dresses to help you look fabulous on Ladies’ Day. However, shopping for your shape is going to help you look and feel better than simply choosing what’s on the covers of the magazines.

Floral summer dresses are almost always acceptable, while skimpy is usually not. Try to think practically as well – if you have a long way to travel before you arrive at the course you may want to consider fabrics that do not crumple or crease.

The shoes

While it may seem highly impractical to wear stiletto heels to the racecourse, on Ladies’ Day they will be everywhere. Glamorous but treacherous, the best advice for the stiletto wearer is to pack some ballet pumps for later in the day once the outfit has been seen.


Accessories are what make an outfit complete and there are many different accessories that can be brought into play. We already have the hat, so why not combine it with a matching handbag?

Scarves, jewellery, brooches and more can complement the overall look for an outfit that truly stands out from the crowd, even on Ladies’ Day.

The rules

Ultimately, Ladies’ Day is about feeling glamorous and looking like the best version of you, whatever that might be. However, there are certain rules and dress codes and it’s advisable to check these out for the particular racecourse and enclosure before going shopping, especially if you’re in the Royal Enclosure.

Most courses stipulate how much flesh can be on display, with rules about hem length, exposed shoulders and more. Save the spaghetti straps and mini-skirts for another day and aim for elegant rather than over-the-top.

The men

Things are rather simpler for the men. A smart suit with tie is typical throughout most of the course, although those in the Royal Enclosure are usually required to wear a top hat and tails.

No matter what you wear, the aim of the day is to have fun so make sure you’re comfortable as well as stylish.