It’s official: the horse racing season is finally here. Last week I had the pleasure of attending Cheltenham Festival as a guest of The Jockey Club; the promise of good weather, fine food and great hospitality all providing the ingredients for an excellent day out. The Jockey Club, who are most definitely responsible for some of the most important sporting moments in the equestrian calendar, host notable race dates including the Randox Health Grand National, The Cheltenham Festival and The Investec Derby. They welcome more than 2 million people each year to their 15 racecourses and there was no better place to be than in their hands on a very busy Cheltenham Thursday. Of course, always wanting to look good on Instagram and the blog, my pre-race day planning was almost entirely focused on getting the right suit for this annual Spring event.
A couple of pointers on how to dress for horse racing (and it is all about balance). Firstly, do not overdo the tweed unless you are opting for a novelty effect. I find that a full tweed suit is almost exclusively reserved for people who actually commute to work on a tractor and not on the tube, so splashing your cash on tweed may not be the ideal choice when you are surrounded by equestrian gentry. On the other hand, your usual work suit just won’t cut it, even if you do own the full three pieces. It screams “boring” and your standard blue suit and red tie really should be left in the wardrobe at home. Instead, try and find that sweet spot, halfway between city and country, and a style that perfectly encapsulates both.
My choice for the day came courtesy of Burton Menswear and their premium Montague Burton range. This 3 Piece Grey Wool Blend Slim Fit Puppytooth Suit both looks and feels the part; the slightly heavier fabric of a well-woven wool blend forming the base for a strong look. Small details such as the pocket square and front ticket pocket with a fully lined blue floral interior make this suit really stand out. The blue flower lapel pin is the perfect finishing touch and coordinated perfectly with a Blue floral Tie. On my feet, I stuck with Burton again and went for their tried-and-tested Tan Leather Brogue Monk Shoes. Black shoes are far too corporate and the unspoken dress code most definitely calls for brown.
Travelling to Cheltenham is a breeze; a couple of hours west of London Paddington, and a short transfer, is all it takes to be transported to one of the greenest locations in the UK. We arrived with on the day with plenty of time for the first race and a chance to scout out the location. The venue was fantastic; The Jockey Club box was close enough to the finish line to feel the thundering of hooves as they crossed the finish line, but comfortable enough to relax while soaking in the increasingly frenetic atmosphere. Win or lose, I would at least be enjoying the home comforts and gourmet food. Especially given that wagyu beef and afternoon tea was on the menu.
As the races went by, we were also given the opportunity to explore the helicopters that ferried those special (and most probably very wealthy) individuals to and from Cheltenham. Jumping into the courtesy Bentley’s that seemed to be on constant rotation from the racecourse to the helipad area, it was a quick but luxurious drive to a part of the racecourse rarely seen by the general public. Cue a slightly envious tour of some incredibly luxurious helicopters, as well as the obligatory photoshoot. However, with the wind picking up and the weather turning, it was a fairly hasty retreat back to the box to watch the final races pass by.
Cheltenham itself is a great horse racing festival to attend; the adventure of heading out into the countryside and a beautiful market town is all part of the experience and there is a real buzz throughout the week-long event. March is also a great time to watch the races; not as hot as the summer racing season, while warm enough to wear that three-piece suit with pride. That being said, I am definitely going to try and get myself to more of The Jockey Club’s events this year as host everything from traditional races to full-blown music events. The only difficult is picking which course to attend next!