Racing is a sociable sport, so first and foremost enjoy yourself. Have fun and take in the atmosphere. You’ll find that the races, which are around 30 minutes apart, provide a natural ebb and flow to your day.
Gates open around two hours before the first race. The times races start vary depending on the time of year you are attending and what time sunset is.
When you arrive at the track you can buy a racecard – essentially the programme for the day – which includes all the information you need about the racecourse and races to enjoy your day.
It’s worth exploring and familiarising yourself with the racecourse. Find out what time the first race starts. This will be in the racecard or listen out for the presenter making announcements.
Around 20 minutes before a race, head to the Parade Ring. This is where you can view the horses and see the jockeys talking last minute tactics with the trainer. Horses should seem alert but not unsettled and a sleek and shiny coat is an indication that the horse is in good health. When the bell rings it’s time for the jockeys to mount their horses and head to the start. It’s also your signal to find somewhere to watch the race.
After a race, the winning horse and those placed up to fourth in the race will go into the Winners’ Enclosure and the winning owner will be presented with their memento. For owners and trainers their horse winning is a pretty special occasion; there are often jubilant scenes in the Winners’ Enclosure.
Meanwhile, jockeys head back to the Weighing Room to ‘weigh in’. An official will weigh each jockey, including their kit, to ensure their weight is the same as before a race – one of the measures to ensure races are run fairly. The presenter will announce ‘weighed in’, confirming the result, and bookmakers will pay out on winning bets.
In between races, there are plenty of bars, food outlets and options to place a bet but make sure you watch at least one race amongst the crowd in the grandstand – there’s nothing quite like it.