What to wear to The Cheltenham Festival
What is Cheltenham Festival?
The Cheltenham Festival is the most anticipated event of the National Hunt calendar, attracting enormous crowds to enjoy (and famously roar at) four days of spectacular jump racing, alongside superlative hospitality and a surprisingly eclectic programme of entertainment.
The Gold Cup, the most prestigious and sought after title in jump racing is run on the final day, with jockeys competing over a gruelling 3 miles, with 22 fences to tackle. Perhaps the most famous horse to compete in the Gold Cup was Best Mate, who won the race in 2002, 2003 and 2004. His ashes are buried next to the winning post at the racecourse, a fitting resting place for a racing legend.
Is there a dress code for Cheltenham races?
Unlike Ascot or Epsom, there is no strict dress code, yet Cheltenham is regarded by many as the most genuinely stylish event in the UK sporting calendar. Thanks in no small part to its unapologetic and unparalleled showcasing of British country style, it celebrates exactly what we Brits do best – dress superbly for unpredictable weather conditions because Cheltenham can be chilly, make no mistake. Practicality should be the prime fashion consideration for any day at the races (oh, if only), but for Cheltenham, the truly stylish know that this really is a non-negotiable factor. And they know that tweed is the tried-and-tested style solution. It’s naturally protective, undeniably beautiful and, perhaps most important of all, allows for versatile, easy layering.
It’s worth noting here that each of Cheltenham’s four days has a slightly different atmosphere and character, something the style-savvy racegoer can and will address, subtly, in their choice of outfits, often with a simple switch of accessories or separates, keeping tweed as the foundation of their look. Note too that there’s a cool and relaxed side to Cheltenham – that eclectic entertainments programme features live music and DJ sets at The Park, situated within the Club and Tattersalls enclosure. Feel free to embrace that festival vibe by loosening up and incorporating quirky and bright accessories (for starters, check out Cordings printed silk scarves, Argentinian polo belts and a rather fabulous fox fur collar that doubles as a headband).
Men’s Cheltenham Outfit
No matter which day you are dressing for, a smart overcoat is the starting line of any men’s Cheltenham outfit. For men, the covert coat is the style most famously associated with Cheltenham and, as the earliest and best runner, the Cordings Original Covert Coat is without doubt the champion here. In a beige wool twill, it’s designed for layering and works well with all tweeds, while the roomy inside poacher’s pocket will take care of your mobile phone, gloves and hip flask (recommended for extra-chilly days). It looks particularly fine worn over Cordings House Check Tweed. Of course, you can opt for the jacket paired with lambswool and corduroy trousers, but the two-piece or three-piece suit always gives a distinguished air.
Outfit Ideas For Him
Cheltenham Festival Style: The Covert Coat
The garment most famously associated with the Festival is the covert coat, and as the originators of the style, we feel a small glow of pride on seeing the coat in the stands and on the trainers and owners. The covert coat combines practicality and elegance, and teamed with the House Check Tweed Suit and a trilby hat it will make the wearer look effortlessly smart and totally in keeping with his surroundings.
Ladies Cheltenham Outfit
What do ladies wear to horse races? A racing meet such as Cheltenham is the place to see British style showcased, a country catwalk if you will! The Festival is held in March, the tail end of winter and the weather is very often still bitingly cold and the going underfoot can be extremely soft. Dress for warmth with plenty of layers and make sure you are wearing comfortable footwear – the last thing you want to do is curtail your day because your feet are sore or you are cold.
There is no dress code as such and Cheltenham is a wonderfully inclusive event so build your outfit around the weather, comfort and the country setting you are in. A matching tweed suit is the ideal wardrobe foundation as a starting point. The Cordings Wincanton and Wetherby collections come in easy-to-match tweeds. The Wincanton has a flattering check with rich berry, toffee and navy tones over a neutral background, whilst the Wetherby is a rich black and bracken herringbone – both distinctive and both eminently wearable. There’s a flattering, impeccably cut jacket to pair with either a matching skirt, or trousers, or culottes and a waistcoat.
All you need to do then is accessorise – and the options are endless. A fedora hat, silk scarf and knee high boots are the perfect combination of style and practicality, and the warm country tones are perfect for the Festival.
What are the four days called at Cheltenham Festival?
Day one, also known as Champion Day, sets the pace, with traditional tweeds out in force for both gentlemen and lady racegoers. Day two is Cheltenham Ladies’ Day, and an opportunity for a more eye-catching, trend-conscious approach with bold colour encouraged, especially if hoping to enter the best dressed lady racegoer competition. Day three is also called St Patrick’s Day, with a decidedly Irish flavour, and many racegoers like to mark the occasion by introducing touches of green to their look. Finally, day four and the prestigious Cheltenham Gold Cup – what better reason for adding a touch of gold to your Cheltenham festival style?
What are the main races at Cheltenham Festival?
These are the Championship Hurdle, the Queen Mother Champion Chase, the Stayers’ Hurdle and The Gold Cup. Although Cheltenham is a social occasion and an opportunity to dress up, first and foremost it is a racing meet where trainers, owners and passionate supporters gather from all over the world to watch the elite of the jump racing world compete.
There are four main races – one on each of the four days, each with a different focus. Tuesday starts with the The Championship Hurdle which is run over a distance of two miles and 87 yards with eight flights and on Wednesday the The Queen Mother Champion Chase is held, this is very much about speed with the cream of the discipline taking on the two mile course at breakneck speeds. On Thursday it is time for The Stayers’ Hurdle which is the most prestigious long-distance hurdle race in the calendar. The Gold Cup, the most prestigious and sought after title in jump racing, is run on the final day, with jockeys competing over a gruelling 3 miles, with 22 fences to tackle.
Perhaps the most famous horse to compete in the Gold Cup was Best Mate, who won the race in 2002, 2003 and 2004. His ashes are buried next to the winning post at the racecourse, a fitting resting place for a racing legend.