Attending a professional horseracing day out will expose you to some of the most exciting entertainment and most enthusiastic crowds you’ll find in all sports.
Particularly for first time racegoers, the experience can be uniquely thrilling, and many who attend their first races simply can’t wait to go again.
But a day at the races is also unique in that it involves more accessorising and preparation than most spectator events. So for those who are new at the tracks, Jared Harris takes a look at some essential items to bring with you to your first race!
Fashion & Accessories
Horseracing and fashion have always gone hand-in-hand, and it begins with ladies’ hats. In fact, for those who haven’t looked into racing hats before, the concept itself is so widely recognised among racegoers that “derby hats” or “raceday hats” have even become specifically labelled store items!
Hat-a-Tude, for example, offers different hat catalogs for each racing season. However, for the big occasions here’s the only tip you need: the larger and more unique, the better!
On the men’s side, hats are encouraged as well, but tailored suits or smart coats will really help you to get into the mood. This isn’t a time for the standard work suit. Rather, men should have a little fun with different styles and colours that are less conventional.
For both men and women, decorative accessories are also popular, and this could mean just about anything. It’s common to see stylish ladies sporting floral arrangements in their hair, glittering collections of statement jewellery, and ornamental handbags (follow our Fashion and Beauty Editor Karen Grace’s regular instalments for tips on how to blend the latest trends with racing style).
Men, meanwhile, may take the opportunity to sport pocket squares, special watches (even a pocket watch can be a great touch), cufflinks and the like.
The first thing we can’t stress enough for new racegoers, in terms of viewing accessories, is a pair of binoculars.
Don’t panic! At almost any track you can still get a great feel for the action with the naked eye. But you can (and should) enhance your viewing experience, even if you only take a few glances here and there, with binoculars. It’s just a different, fascinating perspective.
We’ll also quickly mention sunglasses as something you should bring along, just in case. This isn’t a unique tip to horseracing – they’re great for outdoor sports in general. If you happen to attend an event on a sunny day, your sunglasses can make the experience better for your eyes and your look!
To fully enjoy your day at the races, you’ll also want to have the event race card on you at all times. For those unfamiliar with horseracing environments, the race card is essentially the equivalent of a ‘programme’ at other sporting events. It provides information about the different horses competing in each race, so it’s a very handy guide to have in your lap as you sit through the contests.
Finally, for those inclined, having betting tools handy can also enhance the viewing experience. Once upon a time, betting at the races meant getting up to go and place a bet at the window, but more and more fans are betting via technology – meaning you can do it while relaxing in your seat. It may seem strange to the old school racing fans, but having an app or electronic betting tool handy can enhance the racegoing experience.
To some extent we’ve already covered horseracing comfort in briefly touching on sun protection. Hats with wide brims and sunglasses can not only help your viewing, but they will probably make you more comfortable at the same time. Meanwhile, standard outdoor accessories like sunscreen and bug spray can’t hurt in guarding you against the elements for a full day outside.
If you’re looking into attending an autumn race, you’ll also want a few warming accessories on hand. Scarves are the obvious choices. Women’s Health has a fun breakdown of different ways scarves can be worn (primarily by women) that enable you to keep it on hand without necessarily wrapping yourself up in it all day. That way, you have it if the weather gets cool, and if not, it’s a decorative accessory.
Gloves, hats, warm socks, etc. are all obvious choices as well, but if it’s particularly cold, look into some of those disposable hand warmers you can find at outdoor and sporting good stores.
Similarly, there’s sometimes a necessity for cooling accessories at warmer-weather races. In this category, it all comes down to the little gimmicks you can’t help but purchase at hot outdoor events: spray bottle fans, little misting sprays, and the like. Although, on the women’s side, a fold-up fan can fit the horseracing fashion atmosphere quite perfectly!