In horse racing, there are many tales of the newcomer getting one over on the seasoned professional and this should give you a degree of confidence as you start out. Racing is a sport, and one at which Ireland excels; it is also a wonderful social occasion without equal and a very special 'slice of Irish life'.
You will find, however, that a little knowledge is a useful thing. What does a good horse look like? What is the 'going'? What is all this about weights and distance? What is a bumper? Do I wear a hat? Your enjoyment of racing will grow as you begin to know how it all works, as will your appreciation of the great traditions and skills which are part of Irish racing.
Above all, relax and enjoy… Let yourself go!
'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. Irish racing offers plenty of opportunity to raise the style stakes and at festivals like Galway, Punchestown, Longines Irish Champions Weekend and others the standard of dress is quite elegant. See our full 'what to wear' guide here.
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.
Ladies Day Dates