Etiquette for a day at the [horse] races

Horseracing in the UK dates back to the reign of James I in the seventeenth century when members of the court helped to establish Newmarket as the home of organised racing. It was not until the nineteenth century, however, that horseracing became popular with the general public, following the advent of steam trains, which made racetracks widely accessible.

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Annual attendance at British horseracing events now stands at over 5.5 million, and race-going is a popular summer outing, offering not only thrilling sport, but also the chance to dress up and enjoy a day of socialising in scenic surroundings. Give this a like to help others have a fun time at the races!

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Dress code

Adhere to the correct dress code for the venue and enclosure for which you have tickets – failure to do so may mean you are denied entry. Most venues will provide full details about dress code on their website.


The National Hunt, or ‘Jump racing’ season, runs from autumn to spring and comprises hurdles and steeplechasing.

The Flat racing season runs from May to September. The five Classic races are the Newmarket 2,000 and 1,000 Guinea Stakes, the Epsom Oakes and Derby, and the Doncaster St Leger. Royal Ascot is the pinnacle of the Flat racing season.

Race Day Picnics

Picnics are often enjoyed by racegoers’ cars before the first race, and the level of grandeur ranges from an informal picnic rug on the grass to a foldable table and chairs complete with table linen, champagne flutes and china plates.

If you’re hosting guests, keep it simple with crowd-pleasing food such as quiches, cheese, ham and salmon, served with plenty of fresh bread and a crisp salad. Drinks such as white wine, rosé, champagne and lager can be kept chilled in a cool box.

Spectator etiquette

  • Keep loud shouting and screaming to a minimum – however close-run the race.
  • If your horse loses, accept the result with equanimity and move on.
  • If you’re a lucky winner, enjoy the moment with a sense of quiet satisfaction – resist the urge to gloat.
  • After the race, there’ll be a crowd of people waiting to collect their winnings. Wait patiently or come back later. 

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Gia G. Dixon
Gia G. Dixon

I’m Gia G. Dixon, an etiquette consultant certified under Royal Charter of King Charles III. Here is my guide to elegant style, high quality living, and little things that make your daily life glamorous.

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