There is nothing quite like a day at the races. Horse racing has a long and illustrious history and is one of the most popular sports in the world today. As such the sport is the second-most popular spectator sport in the UK, coming only behind football. Approximately six million people attend the races each year in Britain as the sport continues to prosper. The appeal of the sport for many comes from its tradition and the many various forms it takes including different course lengths, obstacles, track surfaces, and breeds that race.
A raceday does not only provide a thrilling spectacle for friends and family to enjoy but also provides punters with the opportunity to bet on races and get up close to the horses to try to pick a winner. There are fewer fan experiences more satisfying than getting dressed up in your favourite hat or best suit and nailing a bet on a winning horse. Whether you’re new to the sport, or a seasoned vet, it always helps to have some tips to make the most out of the experience. So here’s our list of some things to consider when preparing for a day at the races.
As is true in many aspects of day-to-day life, you can often make more of your day if you arrive ahead of time. Arriving an hour or two before the first race not only helps you beat the crowds but also helps give enough time to find the best spot, familiarise yourself with the surroundings, and leave plenty of time leftover to examine the schedule ahead of the day’s action. With more time to assess your options for bets and examine the field you will be much better positioned to chance your arm on a winner than if you were rushing in to grab a ticket at the last minute. Giving yourself more time to think could make all the difference when it comes to winning a big payday. If nothing else, it gives you a chance to soak up more of the atmosphere.
Head to the Parade Ring
Also known as the Paddock, the Parade Ring is where horses due to race prepare to meet their jockeys and parade in front of racegoers before heading out onto the track. There is also the pre-parade ring where the horses are warmed up and saddles are attached. Racehorses are usually brought to the pre-parade ring about half an hour before the race starts and from there are moved onto the parade ring where racegoers and punters alike can assess their prospects for the contest ahead. While racegoers have the benefit of getting a closer look at the horses, punters will be looking for any indication that a horse might have an advantage in the upcoming race. Fitness, health and well-being really count when it comes to performance so a sleek coat or an alert look in a horse are the things to look out for. Odds and recent form can only tell you so much; getting a look up close for yourself could provide you with the crucial insight you need before making a bet.
Get yourself a racecard
For all intents and purposes the racecard is horse racing’s equivalent to a matchday programme. The racecard includes all the information you could possibly want about the racecourse and the races on the day. It provides detailed accounts of all the runners and riders for each race giving tips as well as recent form of the jockeys and trainers and that information is invaluable when it comes to deciding whether to have a flutter or not. For those having a bet on the racing, you can also check out the naps table from punters across the nation which will give you a good idea of what the best tipsters fancy. There is more information online about jockeys and horses than ever before but betting on a winning horse is not an exact science and with the plethora of information and statistics available both in the naps table and the racecard, betters are given all they could possibly need to make a well-informed decision and understand their chances.
Keep an eye on odds throughout the day
In other sports you might find that odds don’t fluctuate all that much before a contest begins, whereas in horseracing they could change at a moment’s notice all the way up to when they’re released out of the gates. This adds to the thrill of the day and the satisfaction of a carefully calculated and well-timed bet paying off but it also makes it of vital importance to keep one eye on what is changing at all times if you’re going to capitalize on an opportunity. There’s a wide variety of bookmakers and bets to choose from so it can be quite puzzling when making a final decision on what to go for but keeping an eye on how things change throughout the day can help you navigate that difficult challenge with a little more ease.
Try changing places to see where is best to watch the race
This one might sound more superstitious rather than genuine advice to help make the most out of your day but there is a method to the madness. Horse Racing is a sport where the margins are fine and a few small strides at the wrong or right time could make all the difference in who wins and loses. With jockeys sometimes racing multiple times during the day it’s important to see whether they are getting the most out of their runner. Sometimes that task can be made harder if you’re not standing in the right place to watch the race unfold. A better perspective of a tight race may give you a little more insight into how they’re performing and whether they may do well in a race later on in the day. Granted it’s only a minor thing to consider when compared with the other tips on our list but every little helps and at the very least it could add to your overall experience of the day.