What to Expect from a Day at the Races

What to Expect from a Day at the Races

Heading out for a day at the races? Don’t know what to expect? We’ve got you covered.

The equestrian performance sport is always a popular topic of conversation when it comes to the summer months. And usually 9 times out of 10 you will either know someone or you will be going to a day at the races yourself. It’s a full day out where you can enjoy the sunny weather, eat and drink with friends and family, and if you like, place some bets on the horse races you are about to watch. But if it is your first time going to a race day and you don’t know what to expect we have listed everything you need to know below.

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Your Day At The Races Broken Down

Your Day at the Races Broken Down

Most of the time, race days are huge events that attract large crowds so it is important to be as prepared as you can before the day starts. We have broken down the whole day into the main sections that you will need to know or think about during your day at the races.

On Arrival

Usually on a race day most racecourses open their gates a couple of hours before the event starts. This is so that everyone who has bought a ticket can easily make their way inside without too many queues. Once you’ve got your tickets or passes and made your way inside you want to make sure you also get a race day programme if there is one available. This is so that you know what time the races are, which horses are running and what colour the jockeys will wear as well as any other information that will be useful throughout the day.

Where Can I Go?

When it comes to a race day, most racecourses have various areas within the course where you can and cannot go depending on your ticket type. If you are looking at it vaguely the more expensive tickets usually have more areas that you can go in. These are usually extra food and drink areas, better viewing options and at some courses better areas around the parade ring.

To give you an example of this we will use our local Chester racecourse. The order of tickets from lowest price to highest price are - Open Course, Dee Stand, Tattersalls Enclosure, Country Concourse, County Long Room, Winning Post and Champagne Garden.

You can go into the paddock area from Tattersalls Enclosure onwards whereas the Open Course and Dee Stand can only go into their own designated areas.

Before the First Race

Once you are inside you will probably have a good amount of time before the first race to explore. This is good because you will be able to get your bearings and figure out where everything is that you may need to use throughout the day like the toilets and where to place your bets. Now would be a good time to get a drink, place some bets and get a good spot for watching the race.

Approaching the First Race

When it gets closer to the time of the first race, around 30 minutes before the horses will start to enter the parade ring that is usually around the paddock area. If you are interested in seeing the horses you will be betting on and watching race then now is the time you want to head over to find a good spot around the ring. Here you will get a better view of the horses and jockeys, this can sometimes help you decide who you want to bet on depending on what their fitness looks like and what their overall appearance is.

If you aren’t interested in looking at the horses and jockeys close up then now is a great time to find your spot in the stands and wait for the race to commence.

Throughout the Day

Of course you have full control on how you want to spend your day at the races. You can do a circuit of heading to the parade ring before a race to check out the horses, then place your bets and then get your spot ready to watch the race unfold. And of course make sure you’ve had some food and topped up your drinks throughout the day too as this is a full day experience. Usually the time in between each race is around 30-25 minutes and during this time is when you will find the bars and food areas will be slightly busier.

After Racing

Just because the races have finished it doesn’t mean you have to finish your night! But you have to be prepared and pre-plan where you are wanting to go for food or drinks after the races are over. This is because in many cities a race day means that all hospitality is usually booked up quickly so it would be handy to plan where you want to go after the races a few weeks before the event to make sure you can book a table.

What to Wear at the Races

What to Wear at the Races

A day at the races gives you the excuse to go all out with what you wear. In most racecourses the dress code will differ depending on how much you paid for your tickets. Below we have put together everything you may need to know when it comes to choosing your outfit for the races.


In most areas of the race course smart dress is the usual dress code. This usually means tracksuits, t-shirts, trainers, and shorts aren’t allowed unless you are in areas like the Open Course and Dee Stand in Chester for example. When smart dress is advised you can expect to need to wear a well-tailored suit or a smart jacket and trousers along with a shirt, collar, and tie. If smart dress isn’t advised and you are allowed something more casual then a collar is still a good idea when it comes to what to wear on top, and smart jeans, trousers or chinos are a good idea too!


The same rule applies for ladies as it does for the gentlemen, most areas of any race course have smart dress as the dress code. So no denim jeans , trainers, sportswear, or fancy dress where smart dress is required. So long as you aren’t wearing anything like that you would be fine wearing the likes of a dress, skirt, tailored trousers or suit or even smart shorts! If you are in areas like the Open Course and Dee Stand in Chester for example the rules are a lot less strict although it is advisable to dress up for the occasion just in case you upgrade your tickets on the day.

The Race

The Race

A day at the races can be quite daunting especially if its your first time going. The crowds are full of first timers and avid horse racing lovers so you may want to prepare yourself and know more about the type of races that there may be.

What is a Flat Race?

A flat race is simply a horse race that is on a course with no jumps. Flat racing tests the speed, skill and stamina of the horse and jockey knowing the right tactics. Flat racing is usually the longest distance race as they are ran over at least five furlongs which is 1,000 metres. The longest flat race is The Queen Alexandra Stakes that is part of the annual Royal Ascot. It is run over 2 miles, 5 furlongs and 143 yards and is the longest official flat race for professional jockeys and horses that are four years of age or older.

What is a Jump Race?

A jump race is simply a race that includes obstacles that the horse and jockey have to jump over. These jumps are usually either one of the following. A hurdles that is the smaller jump of the two, or a fence that is the larger one. These races are there to test the stamina and jumping abilities of those racing and they are usually horses that are older than those who can take part in the flat races.

The Paddock & Stables

The Paddock & Stables

So we have told you the options that you can do during your day at the races, but we haven’t explained what usually happens to the horses throughout the day. Below you will find out more about where the horses go when they aren’t on the track ready for a race. Most of the time you will find a lot of them around the paddock and the stables.

What’s the Pre-Parade Ring & Paddock?

The paddock and the pre-parade ring are the places where the horses will go before their upcoming race. They will start off in a pre-parade ring that is usually closer to the stables. This is where they will be able to keep warm and focused for the race ahead. People will often get a first look of the horses here without any of their race equipment on to assess their fitness.

When it is closer to the time of the race the horses will then move from the pre-parade ring to the main paddock. This is where they will be all geared up ready for the race and it is also where most people will get their first look of the horses that are going to be in the next race. This is also the time where the owners, trainers and jockeys will talk over the tactics they have for the race.

What are the Stables?

There will be stables at every racecourse. The stables are where all of the horses will be kept before and after their races. Whilst they’re in the stables they will also be assessed by vets for injuries that may have occurred pre- and post-race. The stables are a place that can’t be accessed by the public and are usually out of view from everything else.

Racecourses in the UK

Racecourses in the UK


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