Your etiquette guide for the horse racing season

Follow these tips and tricks to keep your offences among the fences at a minimum

Horse racing, for obvious reasons, has connotations of grandeur.  Royal Ascot; the Grand National; ‘Glorious’ Goodwood – all words evoking importance and synonymous with the very highest ranks of society. You are, therefore, expected to behave accordingly: not a toe out of line and as if you’re in the presence of royals, which you very well might be. Here, gentlemen, is your definitive guide to acting as you should on race day.

Dress the part

The ultimate no-no of the horse racing season is wearing the wrong thing. Forgetting your morning suit and top hat or wearing the wrong kind of tie are surefire ways to get yourself kicked out before you’ve even had the chance to place your first bet. Each meet will have different dress codes, so make sure you do your homework before it’s too late.

Each meet will have different dress codes, so make sure you do your homework before it’s too late

Learn the rules of your enclosure

If you’re lucky enough to have been invited into the Royal Enclosure at Ascot, you need to read up on what’s accepted and what’s not. Your outfit might be different to others’ at the meet if you’re sitting in certain areas, and the intensity of etiquette will undoubtedly be different.

Tactfulness is key

No one wants to be that guy bragging about how much he’s won or how much money he’s put down. A gentleman should behave with the utmost discretion and never brag about how well his horse has done. Tactfulness is key and, if you forget this, it’s unlikely you’ll be invited back.

Remember, a gentleman never gets starstruck

It’s true that if you do find yourself in the Royal Enclosure or its equivalents at other meets, you’ll be rubbing shoulders with some of society’s most prominent figures – there may even be a Prince or Princess in proximity. It’s essential, therefore, that you don’t let the champagne go to your head and act a fool. Remember, this is a social event rather than a meet and greet, and you must act accordingly.

It’s essential, therefore, that you don’t like the champagne go to your head and act a fool

Be sure not hit the booze too early

Other than wearing the wrong thing, one of the biggest taboos of the racing season is darting out of the drinking gates far too fast. Of course, it’s essential to enjoy yourself and indulge a little, but wandering around the course in a boozed-up haze is not a good look for anyone.

Don’t let your hangover get the better of you

If you’re visiting the races two days in a row, it’s likely that you’ll be nursing a slightly sore head on day 2. Remember that bragging about your hangover is neither gentlemanly or unbecoming and it’s therefore best to keep your misery to yourself.

Never forget the all-important thank you letter

It’s likely that you’ve been invited as someone’s guest and it’s therefore important that you remain gentlemanly, even after the event is over. Forget the all-important thank you letter and the etiquette that you’ve worked so hard on for the day on the day will go out the window. Never leave it longer than a week to write, and always be the most gracious you can be.

Further Reading