How to get the best out of a family day at the races


If you've never been to the races before, then why not take the plunge and plan a great family day out? Horse racing has been going on for millennia, though perhaps not as well organised in the past as it is today. The Jockey Club takes responsibility for the rules and regulations of racing, and there are nearly 60 racecourses in the UK, so the chances are you won't have to travel too far to find one.

What do you need to find out when you're planning a first day at the races?

Do some research

Every racecourse is different, but what the majority have in common is that they welcome families and want to make sure everyone, young and old, has a great day out. There are hundreds of Family Fun Days all over the country, so these are your first port of call. Family-friendly races are a huge attraction for those looking for something new and different, so your family can enjoy lots of different things and it needn't break the bank.

There are many racecourses that have free entry for youngsters, even for special events, so you should check out exactly what they offer and save a fair amount of money. You should also find out what's going to be great for the younger ones, though being up close to amazing race horses can often be a thrilling experience.

Having a packed lunch can ease stress and save money

Plan your trip

Big events mean big traffic, so prepare for some queuing for car parks. Have snacks for the kids at hand, audio books, real books or the ubiquitous electronic games to keep them occupied.
If tickets in advance are cheaper online, then buy them. The money you save can be used for some treats later on – or, of course, the occasional flutter on a horse that takes your fancy.
Prepare a picnic as food and drinks on course can be expensive.

What to do

Take the kids to the paddock before a race so that they can see the magnificent horses in their prime. Let them pick one to back and then head for the winning post to cheer them all on.

If you can get to the Grand National, perhaps the world's best-known and most exciting race, do some research with the family beforehand, picking out possible Grand National Runners to back, and then going to see them in the paddock before the race. The children may change their minds if they see a horse or a jockey's colours that they like – indulge them! As adults, you could put a cheeky bet on your favourite or if you wanted to save time and not wait in the queue you could use something similar to an NY online sports betting app to place a bet before you arrive at the races.

When things are quiet or the kids want something different, look out for the children's entertainment on offer: bouncy castles, face painting, treasure hunts, colouring packs and maybe a free ice cream at certain events if you're lucky.

An ice-cream break is always good

Take the plunge

Once you've taken the family to the races, the chances are that you and they will be hooked. They're fantastic days out and, who knows, you might recoup your entrance fee and more if you have a couple of successful bets!

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