The Jockey Club Removes All Restrictions Around Dress Codes
Jockey clubs are organizations involved in or regulating horse racing activities, often on a national level. The Jockey Club of Britain is the oldest and was the supreme authority in control of horse racing and breeding in Britain until 2006 when regulatory power shifted to the Horseracing Regulatory Authority. Today, the Jockey Club is a commercial investor in horse racing across Britain and operates tracks, breeding facilities, and a property- and land-management company. Scores of national-oriented jockey clubs exist worldwide, including the Hong Kong Jockey Club, which holds a legal monopoly on sports betting, and the American Jockey Club, which serves as the breed registry for Thoroughbred horses in North America and maintains the American Stud Book. Most national-oriented jockey clubs are members of the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities, which meets annually to review racing developments. This decision was partly influenced by the fact that online casinos, especially the top-tier ones listed on sites such as Playersbest, have been gaining immense popularity. While horse racing was facing a slow decline in followers.
Playtech, a gambling technology supplier, has signed a five-year deal with The Jockey Club. With this agreement, The Jockey Club will receive a range of cross-product content, based on races and racecourses. This content will be available in casinos, live casinos, poker, virtual sports, and bingo. The first product has been launched at the Cheltenham Festival in March 2022.
But this partnership has been criticized by various review sites like Playersbest, which argues that horse betting is a skill-based form of gambling and should be treated differently in upcoming UK government reforms. The government’s proposed “affordability checks” for customers who lose more than £100 over several weeks may result in a loss of £60 million in revenue for the racing industry from betting companies. The Jockey Club has defended the partnership, stating that its goal is to reach new audiences, educating them on Arbitrage Betting, Spreads, Odds, Markets, etc., and generate new revenue streams for the sport, not to influence gambling regulation.
For gentlemen, the traditional attire for the races is a suit and tie or a sport coat, dress trousers, and dress shoes. A fedora or similar hat can also be worn. Wearing anything too casual or sporty, such as sneakers or t-shirts is most likely to be avoided.
Ladies typically opt for dresses or skirts, paired with heels or other dressy shoes. A hat or fascinator is also popular and often seen as part of race day attire. The dress code of the specific event, as some clubs may have more strict requirements such as a formal dress code or a hat rule.
For racegoers, smart dress is generally the accepted attire, although it is not compulsory in all enclosures. Men typically wear collared shirts, trousers, and smart shoes for Flat racing. A tie and blazer may be added for personal preference. Jumps meetings usually adopt a dress-for-the-weather approach, with tweed being a personal preference among fans. At the Cheltenham Festival, it’s best to dress for the weather, unless you are a corporate guest, in which case a suit may be more appropriate. And for women racegoers, it is common to dress up for flat races in the summer, and some prestigious events or ladies-only days can put a focus on fashion. Competitions for best-dressed racegoers may also be offered at some meetings.
The Jockey Club (UK) has dropped the formal dress code and now allows racegoers to wear whatever makes them feel “comfortable and confident”, as long as it is not improper for sports. The previous policy required men to wear jackets in specific enclosures, even during hot weather, and prohibited wearing jeans and shorts. The new policy, announced by CEO Nevin Truesdale, aims to make horse racing more accessible and inclusive and to attract more people to the sport. He stated that the policy change is meant to highlight that racing is for everyone, regardless of their background or clothes. According to him, clothing is an expression of individuality and by removing the dress code, the organization will show its commitment to diversity and inclusion. He also added that the dress code seemed outdated in the 21st century and the Jockey Club wants to reflect modern trends. The new rules will take effect immediately.
The 2023 dress code policy for UK racecourses has a notable exception for Derby Day at Epsom Downs Racecourse where racegoers can wear formal daywear in the Queen Elizabeth II Stand. The dress code is in place to preserve the tradition and iconic status of the Derby, which has been a part of the sporting calendar for over 240 years. The other venues impacted by the new policy are Aintree, Carlisle, Cheltenham, Exeter, Haydock Park, Huntingdon, Kempton Park, Market Rasen, Newmarket, Nottingham, Sandown Park, Warwick, and Wincanton.
In Spite of facing negative attitudes, the Jockey Club’s decision to scrap formal dress codes at its courses is seen as a positive step towards making horseracing more accessible and inclusive. However, it should also consider that dressing up is a significant part of the experience for many racegoers and provides business for independent milliners and designers. Cheltenham racecourse has successfully encouraged guests to balance style with practicality and this should continue. Abolishing the formal dress code is acceptable, but guidelines should not be completely abolished.