Racing makes huge dress code change and Cheltenham Festival will be impacted

Horse racing has officially ditched its formal dress code in a groundbreaking move by authorities.

The Jockey Club confirmed on Thursday that formal dress codes will be dropped with immediate affect across all 15 of their racecourses.

And the move means that the familiar theme of punters arriving suited and booted for meets like the iconic Cheltenham Festival could soon be a thing of the past.

The changes – also in place for the Grand National at Aintree – mark a significant step in the sport's plan to make going to the racing more inclusive.

Punters are used to being restricted on their outfit choice but will now be free to wear what they want after an extensive review from racecourse bosses.

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The Queen Elizabeth II Stand at Epsom Downs racecourse is a minor exception to the rule, with racegoers required to wear morning dress or formal daywear on Derby Day.

And fancy dress, replica sports shirts and any other clothing deemed offensive will still be prohibited.

But Jockey Club chief executive Nevin Truesdale believes ditching the formal dress code will enhance and modernise the experience for racegoers.

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"It's really important to us to be accessible and inclusive," Truesdale 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.

"When we reviewed this area of the raceday experience, it has been clear to us that enforcing a dress code seems rather outdated in the 21st Century in the eyes of many of our racegoers."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!"

Royal Ascot is not owned by the Jockey Club so will not be affected, but 342 fixtures across the racing calendar will be impacted by the organisation's drastic dress code changes.

Jockey Club courses with no dress code

  • Aintree
  • Carlisle
  • Cheltenham
  • Epsom Downs
  • Exeter
  • Haydock Park
  • Huntingdon
  • Kempton Park
  • Market Rasen
  • Newmarket
  • Nottingham
  • Sandown Park
  • Warwick
  • Wincanton


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