Cheltenham Festival Thursday is best known with racing fans as Stayer’s Hurdle and Ryanair Chase day – two of the highest quality contests throughout the week. However, the third day at the Festival is also Ladies Day and the fillies in the stands pull out all the stops to bring a sense of fashion and glamour to the Prestbury Park proceedings.
There is no official dress code, the course website only states that ladies are allowed to “dress appropriately for the weather”. This gives female horse racing fantastic free reign to dress as extravagantly as they like – keeping up to date with the fashion trends of the day, of course.
If you are new to horse racing, or are attending a huge festival for the first time, here are a few pointers to guide you whilst picking out your perfect Cheltenham Festival outfit.
As opposed to the light, airy ensembles worn at Royal Ascot during the summer, layering your outfit is extremely important at Cheltenham, both in terms of practicality and style. Tweed is a staple material with both sexes at horse racing events, so this would be the perfect choice for your top layer, but other thicker materials, like wool, crepe or brocade would work very well too. If you don’t fancy investing in a heavy outfit, then a warm, stylish coat makes a great alternative.
Even the best weather forecaster can struggle with their prediction during a British spring – the sun has been known to show his face and shine his beaming light down on the festivities, but there have also been several occasions when racegoers have woken up on the morning of the Festival, to see a layer of snow adorning the ground outside their window. If you can afford it, taking two or more outfits to choose from, depending on the weather, is a very good course of action with any British horse racing festival.
An elegant, extravagant hat is a must at any horse racing event and the Cheltenham Festival is no different. Ladies fashion at Cheltenham is arguably best remembered for its hats – so make sure you don’t forget this crucial component of your outfit and don’t be afraid to be a little outlandish. The style of hat usually worn during Ladies Day is either Pill box or Percher, with silk, felt or leather the most chosen materials. Feathers are also a very traditional headgear accessory during the Festival.
Matching accessories, like handbags not only set your outfit off well and give you a handy place to house your race card, but they also aid in adding to the air of sophistication that courses through the stands during the entire stadium. They also make a very good place to secretly stash a scarf and some gloves, in-case the wind starts to gust around the stands.
Boots or close toe shoes are often the sensible choice in footwear at the Festival – the last thing you want when you are taking in everything Cheltenham has to offer is frozen toes. A thicker heel is also advisable, considering the amount of standing and walking around you’ll be doing.
The Festival hit the headlines last year when several apparent “celebrities” rather lowered the tone with their foolish antics. This year, organisers are undoubtedly going to enforce a zero tolerance policy if anyone sullies the reputation of Prestbury Park, so staying classy could be the best advice for your day at the Cheltenham races.