Full Guide to a Day at the Races for Beginners

Attendees in formal wear at a horse racing event, with elegant hats and a top hat, conveying a high-profile social gathering.

So, you are heading to the races for the first time. Fancy outfit ready, but you want to know more about what is happening on the day. Welcome to our insider’s guide to a day at the races. We will cover everything you need to know before arriving at the races, exploring the racecourse, watching and betting on the races, and how to leave the races.

Arriving at the Races

When arriving at the races on the day, it is essential to have checked the dress code before arrival. Some race courses, in particular, will have specific dress codes that must be followed, while others are slightly more relaxed. Also, arrive early. Beat the queues and take it all in before the action starts; find your enclosure, grab a bite to eat and get the drinks in. Remember to purchase yourself a race card, too. This will provide you with all the day runners’ and riders’ information. It will also offer top tips, facts about the racecourse, performance stats, where the horses and jockeys have travelled from, and so on. A racecard is also useful for helping you find your way around the course and showing what is offered between races to keep visitors entertained.

Exploring the Racecourse

Once you have arrived and settled in, make sure to have a wander around the track ahead of the race start. Check out what it has to offer, from food stalls to activities to horsey-related equipment or accessories. Locate where the bookmakers and totes are. This will help you later on. Enjoy it, soak it all in, gauge the atmosphere from different parts of the course, and find a new place to watch on from. Take the time to soak up the event’s atmosphere ahead of the racing. You can even watch the horses warm up, get ready, and head to their position, ready to race. 

Watching and Betting on the Races

Now, for the main event, watch each jockey and his horse battle it out to cross that finishing line. Guests will always be on the lookout for the best viewing spots to watch from before the start. With so many options, you can choose to watch from the stands, the rails, the screen, or anywhere else you find, maybe even a hidden gem of a spot. As long as it is next to as many amenities as possible, such as food, drink, bookmakers and more, we are happy. 

Leaving the Races

Once your day is complete and it is time to leave the track, it does not mean your day out has to end there, either. There is plenty more to do on the other side of the track as local bars, pubs, and restaurants will be open and welcoming racegoers in with open arms. Enjoy some food or a drink while you are at it, planning your next trip to the races to do it all over again.

What To Wear 

Each racing event has different dress codes for racegoers to use as guidance or adhere to. More often than not, the dress codes are advisory and a recommendation of how others dress to attend the event. While others must follow codes, often, there will be items such as trainers, football colours, fancy dress, and jeans not permitted in hospitality enclosures; however, other areas will be much more relaxed as long as they are smart and appropriate. When choosing your race day outfit, it is important that you dress for the weather on the day. This goes hand in hand with dressing suitably for the conditions at the racecourse, such as walking across mud and grass for a prolonged amount of time. Wearing appropriate shoes and clothing for this is important.

The Paddock and Stables

At the paddock and stables, the racehorses are all spending their time preparing for their time to shine. Rehearsing with a pre-parade gives them a chance to warm up and be focused while also allowing racegoers to view the horses without all of the kit and saddles and see each horse’s demeanour. They are then presented at the parade ring, one of the most sought-after viewing spots where the horses can be viewed once again prior to the race. The stables, where the horses receive vet treatments and checks pre- and post-race, are off-limits to the public.


There are so many reasons why a day out at the races is one of the most enjoyable things to do. Catching up with friends, a day out with the family, a work day out, the possibilities and excuses to go are endless. There will always be something for everyone at the horse races.

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