All you need to know to plan a day at the races
A day at the races can be whatever you want it to be. Get involved in the action at the parade ring, in the stands and down at the track, socialise with friends in the restaurants, bars and marquees or enjoy the family entertainment, music and ladies day competitions. Irish racing has something for everyone.
'The going' is a term that you will hear a lot in racing. It is a description of the conditions underfoot on the racecourse and it is important because it can affect a horse's chances of winning. The more moisture in the ground, the softer or slower the going. The drier the ground, the firmer or faster the going becomes. The going report also provides additional information such as 'watering'. This is when the Clerk of the Course waters the course to make the going softer. Different horses act and react on different ground.
There is no official dress code at Irish racecourses but smart casual is usually a safe bet. Longines Irish Champions Weekend offers plenty of opportunity to raise the style stakes and the standard of dress is quite elegant.
Having a bet is part and parcel of a day at the races. It's great fun and who knows, you might back a winner. It's the easiest thing in the world to do, just select your horse or horses from the racecard and decide what type of bet you wish to do. Remember, you have the choice of betting with the Tote or the bookmakers and your bet can be as small or as large as you like, although some bookmakers might have a minimum stake. This amount will be displayed by the bookmaker. Whether you bet with the Tote or a bookmaker, you will receive a ticket which will record your selection and your stake. This is in effect your receipt, so keep it safe.
The racecard contains all the information you will need for a day at the races. It is a guide to all the races on the programme and contains information regarding the horses, owners, trainers and jockeys at the meeting. Racecards are on sale in the racecourse enclosures and can be purchased for around €3.
Horse racing is full of statistics and information. This can appear overwhelming but it's what makes the sport so compelling for so many. Once the racegoer knows what to look for, the racecard gives you all the key information on the runners and riders as well as some quick and simple clues to help pick a winner. All the necessary information is on the race card, including the times of each race and the distance the races are run over.
If it is your first visit to a racecourse, get your bearings by following the crowds. There are very few areas that are "out-of-bounds" but the type of ticket you have will help determine which areas you can use. Most racecourses only have one enclosure at ground level, but there may be areas on upper levels of the grandstand that might have restricted access. Racegoers don't have access to the racetrack or the parade ring but otherwise don't be afraid to explore - racecourse staff will offer all the assistance they can.
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