Plan A Day At The Races This Autumn
Soaking up the fun and exciting atmosphere of a day at the races is a British tradition which should not be missed. There are hundreds of race meetings around the UK every year, at famous courses such as Ascot, Cheltenham, Goodwood, and Aintree. they make an enjoyable day out, no matter what level of knowledge of the sport you have.
Here’s a guide to making the most of your day at the races!
Race meetings are held year-round, subject to the weather conditions. The gates usually open about two hours before the first race is held, so you can get your bearings and buy a racecard, which is a programme of all the race times and runners and so on. Races are usually held at 30 minute intervals throughout the day.
In the 20 minutes or so before the start of each race, the horses and jockeys will assemble in the Parade Ring, usually with their trainers or stablehands. Each jockey will be dressed in ‘silks’, which refers to the colour of their cap and shirt. Each owner has an individual colour or design to distinguish the horse on the track.
This is your chance to view the thoroughbred horses, who should be at the peak of physical fitness, with a sleek coat and bright eyes. The horses should look lively and alert, but should be under control and not spooked or overexcited by the occasion. A bell will ring when it is time for the horses and jockeys to make their way to the starting line.
Horses who finish in the top four of the race will then enter the Winner’s Enclosure to be presented with prizes. After this, all the jockeys must ‘weigh in.’ This means weighing the jockey and their kit, including the saddle, to make sure the horse has been carrying the correct weight.
Lighter jockeys who have an unfair advantage may have to add lead weights to their saddle cloth to make up the extra weight. All the jockeys are ‘weighed out’ before the start of the race, and again afterwards, to ensure fair play. Once the winners have been confirmed, the bookmaker will pay out on the winning bets.
Placing a bet can be a bit daunting if you have never tried it before, but it’s actually a fairly straightforward process. First, you need to select a horse to back. The bookmaker will place odds on each horse, to reflect the probability of them winning the race. These are displayed as fractions, such as 4/1. 7/2, or 9/4, for example.
If you place a winning bet on a horse with odds of 4/1, you will receive 4 units for every one unit that you staked. Each race will have a favourite, meaning it is considered most likely to win, based on recent past form of the horse and jockey, and how suited the horse is to the type of race and conditions (called the ‘going’).
A day at the races is also a chance to mingle with the crowds, and enjoy all the hospitality on offer, such as bars, food outlets, and other entertainment.
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