Etiquette at The Races

The Queen in a hours drawn carriage at the Royal Ascot

Different race meetings have various codes of conduct and levels of formality. Here is some general advice for a successful day's racing...

Stylish Dressing

Adhere to the correct dress code for the area of the racecourse (encosure) for which you have a ticket.

A day at the races is a special occasion and you should dress smartly. Men should wear a suit, or jacket, in both cases with a tie.

Ladies should choose a smart dress or suit (steer clear of miniskirts, halter necks and spaghetti straps). It's fine for ladies to wear trouser suits (or a matching top and trousers). Remember a day at the races can be quite tiring with a lot of standing around - toe-pinching stilettos might not be the best choice.

Summer race meetings can be quite chilly so bring a smart pashmina or jacket to avoid goose pimples.

Hats Off!

An ideal choice for gentlemen race-goers is the panama hat - particularly stylish with a linen suit. Wear it low over the brow, with a slight tilt, and if you're intent on showing your good manners, hold it by the crown raise it a few inches from your head when greeting a lady.

Some race meetings are an occasion when ladies can wear all kinds of extravagant hats and fascinators. It is notoriously difficult to socially kiss while wearing a wide-brimmed hat. There is a knack to tilting the head at a suitable angle, but two ladies who are both wearing wide-brimmed hats should avoid such an greeting.

If you've chosen an extravagant creation, spare a thought for your fellow race-goers - an elaborate hat might block their view of the action.

A Safe Bet

Have a flutter but moderate any excessive reactions. If you've staked your money on a loser, don't sulk or give way to petulance or moodiness. Accept your loss with equanimity and move on.

Don't gloat. If you're a lucky winner, you can enjoy a quiet sense of satisfaction - but don't get too over-excited. Other people (especially if they haven't been lucky) will find your antics wearisome.

Track-Side Etiquette

Of course, you will find the race exciting (especially if you've backed a real contender) but keep loud shouting or excited screaming to the minimum - especially if you're very close to other people. Be careful to avoid blocking others' views of the track.

Don't push your way to the front of the line at the bookies. After the race, there'll be a large number of people gathering around to collect their winnings - wait patiently in line. If the queue looks too big, you can always come back later

Bar Behaviour

Picnics are often taken at the car before the first race. Offer to contribute. Mind your table manners, even when eating alfresco.

Pace yourself. It's a long afternoon, so break up your forays to the racetrack, the winning post or the winner's enclosure with a chance to sit down, relax and enjoy the refreshments on offer.

Don't over-indulge. Several hours of drinking on a summer's afternoon can be highly intoxicating and you don't want to make an exhibition of yourself.

Gracious Host

If you're in charge of a racing party ensure that everyone is comfortable, is well supplied with form guides and drinks, and has the opportunity to sit down when they need to.

If you're somebody's guest, remember your manners and don't forget that all-important thank you letter afterwards.

The KNowledge

Backing one or two horses to place will, in the long run, not offer you the same returns as betting on three or four horses to win. Avoid outsiders - those 100/1 odds may seem attractive, but there's a reason why your horse isn't fancied.  Do remember, however, that if the going is heavy, form generally means nothing - an outsider can be worth a punt.

Study the form guides and look for a horse that has improved gradually. Listen to betting shop and trackside chatter and keep an eye on any horse that is being well backed.

If you can't afford to lose the money, don't bet.

Top Tip: always double-check the correct dress code rather than risk the embarrassment of being refused entry.

Debrett's Suggests

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Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe

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Newbury Races Ladies Day

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