New to racing? A few pointers
What to take to the races
If you are likely to have a flutter, you will need cash for betting. Most bookmakers take a minimum bet of £5, but this is clearly displayed on their boards to avoid embarrassment. The tote will take bets from £2. Tote betting vouchers can be purchased with credit and debit cards at various tote information points.
A racecard is a good investment, with a detailed guide to everything that is going on each day plus features and tips. These cost £3 on the day or £2.50 in advance. If you want to do some homework beforehand, race details and tips are in the sports pages of national newspapers, or online at www.sportinglife.com, www.racingpost.com or via our own website.
You are welcome to bring a camera, but please disable the flash as sudden bright lights upset horses. Binoculars are also good for following the action and can be hired at the course if you don't own any, but there are also big screens in prominent positions to enable you to watch the racing.
If you are planning to eat in one of our restaurants, please book in advance. Full details are contained in the Dining and Hospitality section.
Before each race
The pre-race action centres around the parade ring, which is where you can see the horses before each race and watch the jockeys, trainers and owners discussing tactics before the jockey is 'legged-up' on to their horse and is led out onto the racecourse. This gives you the chance to see which horses you like the look of. Some signs to take notice of are: good muscle tone (condition); shiny coat, bright eyes and an alert manner; a relaxed walk; it usually pays to avoid horses who are sweating profusely or are very agitated, (but for some horses this is normal).
You could pick a horse because you like its name, or the colours of its silks, but it is also worth studying the form. The form is simply the horse's previous performances. Things to look out for include whether the horse has won or run well at Cheltenham before, whether it has won on the same going (ground conditions) as today or whether it has won over a similar distance as today's race. There is more information in your racecard, or for very detailed form you can buy a copy of The Racing Post.
Once the horses start to leave the parade ring, you will have about 5 minutes or so to place your bets and take a position in the stands to watch the race. Placing a bet with a bookmaker might seem a little daunting, but for many it is part of the fun of a day at the races. The prices for each horse are displayed on the bookie's board, and the prices will differ from bookie to bookie so shop around for the best value. State the horse's name or racecard number to the bookie and the amount you want to bet. They will give you a ticket which you need to keep and hand back to claim any winnings. Check your ticket at the time of the bet to make sure it is correct. Winning can be collected at any time after the race, there is no time limit.
After the race, head back to the end of the parade ring and the Winners Enclosure. The first four horses to finish will return there, with the winner returning last, usually to loud cheers! You can watch the trophy presentation and then head off to collect your winnings (hopefully), before choosing which horse to back in the next race.
Before coming racing: It's always fun to choose a horse early and try and get a better price, sometimes this is called ante post betting - lots of bookmakers also offer early prices on the day. its well worth having a seach online. Shop around for Best Odds