For over 200 years, horse racing in the UK has been the perfect opportunity for the public to wear their most spectacular clothing. Now, formal dress codes have been dropped from all Jockey Club racecourses - which includes Aintree and Cheltenham.
Instead, spectators will be encouraged to dress in a way that they feel is the “most comfortable and confident”. The decision has been made to remove the “outdated” restrictions and make horse racing more “accessible and inclusive”.
The change will come into effect immediately and will apply to a total of 342 fixtures such as the Grand National. Though events such as the Royal Ascot and The Queen Elizabeth II Stand at Epsom will still require formal wear.
It comes after a sport-wide debate as to whether it is necessary after two racegoers were refused entry to Sandown in April. This was because both women were wearing trainers at the racecourse.
In a statement, Jockey Club’s chief executive Navin Truesdale said: “It’s really important to us to be accessible and inclusive. We hope that by no longer placing an expectation upon people of what they should and shouldn’t wear we can help highlight that racing really is for everyone.
"When we reviewed this area of the race day experience, it has been clear to us that enforcing a dress code seems rather outdated in the 21st Century in the eyes of many of our racegoers. Of course that doesn’t mean we are discouraging people from dressing up for a day at the races if they want to.
"This is about giving people a choice and the opportunity to come racing dressed however they feel most comfortable and confident, while also bearing in mind the challenges regularly presented by the British weather. It is a common misconception that a day at the races has always required you to dress in a certain way, regardless of the fixture.
"In fact, even at really high-profile days like the Cheltenham Festival, that has simply not been the case and our only recommendation has been to dress appropriately for the weather."
List of Jockey Club racecourses that no longer have formal dress codes
- Epsom (aside from The Queen Elizabeth II Stand)
- Market Rasen
- Newmarket (Rowley Mile & July Course)