A major feature at British racecourses over the years has been the advent of ‘Ladies Days’.
We’ll take you through what these are, some of the more famous ones, what they entail and more.
A Guide to Ladies Days
Ladies Days are now a permanent fixture at racecourses all over the country. The idea is to get dressed up to the nines. It’s about fashion, glamour and high society, especially for those in the dark days gone by who’d have thought they weren’t part of it.
At any racecourse Ladies Day is one of, if not the, most popular and well-attended race day of the year. Some don’t pair it with great quality racing in all truth, but many do.
The point here is that, much like in polo and other sports, a Ladies Day at the races is about the horses but also about the social element. Ladies Day at certain racecourses has become that geographical area’s key social event, one that everyone wants to be a part of.
Many take this opportunity to buy hospitality tickets. This means dining in a restaurant or marquee in couples or small or large groups. Remember; Ladies Day doesn’t mean ‘ladies only’. The guys tend to dress up too and make a day of it.
Best Dressed Competitions
A big feature of Ladies Days across the country are the attached Best Dressed competitions. Prizes can range from a simple voucher or cash prize, right up to luxury holidays and more.
Fashion spotters, often employed by clothing designers or high street fashion brands, are out in force around the track inviting the best dressed ladies to take part.
The Top Ladies Days in Britain
Almost all major racecourses have a Ladies Day, a Ladies Night or something similar on their racing calendar. By racecourse, these are some of the biggest such events around.
Aintree Racecourse, Merseyside
Aintree centres its whole season, every year, on the Grand National Meeting. Ladies Day then naturally is part of this, falling on the Friday of the meeting which is day two of three.
Ascot Racecourse, Berkshire
It will not surprise anyone to find out that Ascot’s Ladies Day comes during the Royal Ascot fixture.
There are five amazing days of international action, Ladies Day coming on the Thursday (day 3) which is also Gold Cup Day. The 2½-mile feature race is one of the most important events on the racing calendar.
Ayr Racecourse, Ayrshire, Scotland
Given the way Ayr’s racing calendar is split by racing code – National Hunt and Flat, they actually have two events, each falling at an ideal time of year.
The first of the year is in April during the Scottish Grand National meeting, while the second comes in September during the Ayr Gold Cup.
Cheltenham Racecourse, Gloucestershire
The Cheltenham Festival is such a massive event that it makes perfect sense to host Ladies Day at this meeting, rather than in the depths of winter.
Indeed, this is what happens at Prestbury Park as Ladies Day is on Wednesday of the Cheltenham Festival, the second day.
Chester Racecourse, Cheshire
Other events similar to this do take place at other times of the year, but Chester’s main Ladies Day comes very early in the season and it is one of the best recognised in the country.
Ladies Day on the Roodee comes on the middle day of the May Festival. Despite it landing on a Thursday, it is extremely well attended and is well known for the participation of all the local north-west wags!
Goodwood Racecourse, Sussex
The world-renowned Glorious Goodwood meeting takes place across five days, much like Royal Ascot, this time in either late July or early August.
That’s the perfect time and this is the perfect setting for a classy Ladies Day, which in this case is held on Day 3 (Thursday) of the Glorious meeting.
Newmarket Racecourse, Suffolk
Newmarket is the home of Flat racing and rather than huge, raucous crowds, it presents eloquent surroundings to go with top-quality racing.
Ladies Day at Newmarket is on the July Course, during the July Festival. Ladies Day is on day one of that meeting.
York Racecourse, North Yorkshire
York has major meetings in May, July, August and beyond. The Ebor Festival is chosen for Ladies Day, the event coming on Yorkshire Oaks Day on the Thursday of the meeting.
Whatever sort of Ladies Day or Ladies Night you’re interested in, you are bound to find one within a reasonable distance. Flat and National Hunt racecourses all over the country host Ladies Days, with Gentlemen’s Days also now increasing in popularity.