Menu
Next Race Newspaper
Free Bets
My Account
Tracker

Wednesday, 21 November, 2018

'If you think dress codes are too stuffy then you're wrong'

Jockey Lizzie Kelly with some strong opinions on a hot topic

Lizzie Kelly: "One of racing's greatest unique selling points is that a spectator can enjoy the dressing up"
1 of 1

With Royal Ascot merely a few days away, it seems like the 'perfect' time for Bruce Millington, editor of the Racing Post, to write a column describing dress codes as a 'major deterrent' to potential racegoers.

Ascot has a very detailed dress code in place, ensuring Royal Ascot continues to be a well respected and celebratory five days of fashion as well as horseracing.

Although Millington in his article is trying to persuade me that dress codes are too stuffy and perhaps even detrimental to the popularity of the sport, he's wrong.

Royal Ascot: a celebratory five days of fashion as well as horseracing, says Lizzie Kelly
One of racing's greatest unique selling points is that a spectator can enjoy the dressing up and is encouraged to do so by hugely popular competitions such as ladies' days and best dressed. Perhaps Millington isn't aware but ladies' days are always packed, so much so at Uttoxeter that the jockeys had to go around the back of buildings to get to the parade ring!

Firstly, I'm not quite sure why people get into such a flap about adhering to dress codes – surely everyone would rather see well-dressed racegoers than tracksuit-clad individuals (nothing against trackies, but there's a time and a place).

It is the racecourse's prerogative to ensure their brand is retained to the level they wish. In fact, it's hugely important financially that they upkeep standards to ensure good relationships with large sponsors of the more prestigious meetings, and they are well within their rights to use dress codes to do that.

Secondly, I'm not sure why people like Mr Millington try to use dress codes against racing as a way to describe it as too traditional. Can 'anti dress-coders' please be aware that there are plenty of people who enjoy dressing up for a day out, finding a hat and taking a few good photos at the races – many say it's one of the reasons they go!

Racing is indeed in the leisure industry, fighting in a very competitive market and one of its biggest advantages is that racegoers enjoy the occasion, the pomp and ceremony, or one could say 'traditions'.

British horseracing is the best in the world and there is nothing wrong with maintaining standards of dress, especially at the best meetings of the calendar, and I think the crux of the matter is whether racegoers respect the occasion.

Fashion at Royal Ascot: "Why should racecourses be under pressure to be allowing their standards to drop when their competitors don't?"
I, myself, and I'm sure 99 per cent of people wouldn't go to Centre Court at Wimbledon or Lord's Cricket Ground in a short dress or without a shirt/tie, so why should Ascot, Goodwood and Epsom be under pressure to be allowing their standards to drop when their competitors don't?

Dress codes are not only important in maintaining consumer perception of our sport at a high level, it's also beneficial for upkeeping the brand of the top meetings. And after all the boring business side of it, dress codes are actually fun for many individuals who enjoy dressing up for the races.

And quite frankly Mr Millington, if you feel like you're having to 'dress up like you're in Downton Abbey' you're doing it wrong...!


Bruce Millington: racing’s dress code needs to loosen its ties to tradition

It is the racecourse's prerogative to ensure their brand is retained to the level they wish
Bookmaker
Price
E.W. Terms
Sporting
BetVictor
Sky bet
Boylesport
RaceBets