The Jockey Club has announced that formal dress codes will no longer be enforced at any of its 15 racecourses, to make horse racing more accessible and inclusive to all.
Racegoers will no longer be restricted from watching the action from certain enclosures based on what they are wearing. Attendees will now be encouraged to “dress as you feel most comfortable and confident”, according to The Jockey Club.
The change has come into force with immediate effect and follows a review of the dress codes and feedback from racegoers.
Nevin Truesdale, chief executive at The Jockey Club, said: “Horse racing 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.
“While The Jockey Club has a rich heritage and history it is also a forward-thinking organisation which places a great emphasis on diversity and inclusion and always seeks to reflect modern trends. So, when we reviewed this area of the raceday experience, it has been clear to us that enforcing a dress code seems rather outdated in the 21st Century in the eyes of many of our racegoers.”
Truesdale added: “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.”
The only exceptions to the new policy at any of the 342 fixtures staged by The Jockey Club include offensive fancy dress or clothing, and replica sports shirts. The Queen Elizabeth II Stand at Epsom Downs Racecourse will also continue to require either morning dress or formal daywear on Derby Day.
Truesdale also mentioned that while The Jockey Club is making the race-wide change this year, a number of its fixtures did not have dress codes in place anyway.
He said: “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.
“By taking the decision not to impose dress codes at any of our 15 racecourses we now hope to get rid of any ambiguity or uncertainty and simply let people know that whatever they feel comfortable wearing they’ll be welcome to join us on a raceday.
“For many, clothing is the ultimate expression of individuality and by removing the need to be dressed in a certain way we hope to really demonstrate how inclusive we believe our sport is, as well as being a fantastic and thrilling day out.”