For more than two centuries it has been an established part of horse racing’s rich heritage. But the Jockey Club, which owns 15 of the biggest courses in Britain, has scrapped its formal dress code as part of a drive to make the sport more “accessible and inclusive”.
The move will mean that racegoers will be free to wear what they want with immediate effect in all enclosures at Jockey Club tracks, including Cheltenham, Aintree, Newmarket, Epsom and Sandown.
In the past, racing’s Byzantine rules have required men to wear jackets in certain enclosures, even during a heatwave, with jeans and shorts often frowned upon. Last year, two racegoers were initially refused entry to Sandown’s most expensive enclosure on bet365 Gold Cup day for wearing trainers.
The change in policy was announced by the chief executive at the Jockey Club, Nevin Truesdale, who said he hoped it would attract more people into the sport.
“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,” he said. “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.
The only exceptions to the new policy at any of the 342 fixtures staged by the Jockey Club is offensive fancy dress, offensive clothing of any kind and replica sports shirts. The Queen Elizabeth II Stand at Epsom will also continue to require either morning dress or formal daywear on Derby Day.
Courses not run by the Jockey Club, such as Ascot, will continue to set their own rules.
“We believe people enjoy themselves best when they feel relaxed,” said Truesdale. “A major part of that is wearing clothing which you are comfortable in. When we reviewed this area of the race day experience, it has been clear to us that enforcing a dress code seems rather outdated in the 21st century in the eyes of many of our racegoers.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,” he added. “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.”