'If you think dress codes are too stuffy then you're wrong'
Jockey Lizzie Kelly with some strong opinions on a hot topic
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.
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.
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...!