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And They’re Off: A Beginners Guide To A Day At The Races

Matt Crisp May 14, 2023

Attending most sporting events simply involves buying a ticket and finding your seat, but attending the races is a little bit different. However, there’s no need to worry about attending your first racecourse event as it’s very easy to get to grips with and all the more rewarding for it! Here’s a quick guide to attending your first race meeting.


It is possible to purchase a ticket at the gate, but if you book online in advance, you may get discounts. You will also be able to browse the variety of ticket options available, as most racecourses include different categories with varying levels of access to hospitality and viewing areas. In addition, you can just download the ticket straight to your phone.


Race days can be busy and this can lead to congestion on the roads around the course. Leave plenty of time for your journey if you are driving, and make sure you know where to park. If you are travelling as part of a group, the best option may be to club together for a coach hire

Racecourses are not often very near public transport stations, whereas a coach can drop you off at the gate. You will also be able to enjoy a drink or two on the day if you are not the driver!

Find your bearings

Most racecourses are large, and if this is the case it’s best to find your bearings early on. There may be a leaflet containing a map that you can pick up for free. This will help you locate the essentials such as toilets, food and drink outlets, the stands, the parade ring, and bookmakers.

Where you watch the race from will depend on which areas your ticket allows you access to. If it is for general admission, you can choose to spectate from the covered stands which may contain seating, or the track side. If it’s raining you will probably want to take cover. Being high up in the stands means that you will have a good overview of all of the course. 

Some people prefer to spectate close to the rails, where they can feel the thunder of the horses galloping past close by them. 

Understanding the racecards

You will notice vendors selling racecards. These provide you with a guide to the runners and riders for each race, including the jockey’s silks (the colour and pattern of their shirt and hat so that you can identify them on the course). It will also give a star rating based on their recent form, and some stats about the race.

The racecard can either be used to give you more insight into the proceedings, or you can use it to help you place a bet. You will find bookies at the course who will display the odds for each runner. They will be used to amateur punters, so don’t feel intimidated about having a flutter if you fancy it. It’s best to start small until you find your feet.