United Kingdom

Ditching dress codes at racecourses is a move long overdue

Explaining the decision, Nevin Truesdale, chief executive at The Jockey Club, said: “Horseracing has always been a sport enjoyed by people from all different backgrounds and 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.

“For those who visit our venues, a day at the races is all about spending quality leisure time with friends and family and we believe people enjoy themselves best when they feel relaxed. A major part of that is wearing clothing which you are comfortable in.”

I have never felt there was any correlation between making people “dress up” and good behaviour. Just because you have a suit on does not mean you will not behave like a drunken lout. So this easing of dress regulations on racecourses is in no way a step backwards.

The dress code in the main stand at Epsom, another Jockey Club racecourse, on Derby Day will still be top hat and tails. And that is also to be welcomed. We have a rich heritage of tradition in this country and the last thing we should do is throw the baby out with the bath water. There is nothing wrong with dressing up for a big occasion. Just not every flipping time you want to watch horse racing.

Royal Ascot is not held on a Jockey Club racecourse, so the new relaxing of dress codes will not apply to the Royal Enclosure, where standards have slipped anyway in recent times since many of the men ceased to wear stiff collars. The old Duke of Norfolk would never have tolerated people coming dressed for work swanning around in the Royal Enclosure. 

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