Heading to the track for the first time has the potential to be as daunting as it is exciting. After all, with no direct insight as to how exactly you should carry yourself, you might not know what to expect. Or what to do.
Which is why we thought that for this piece, we’d focus on a little track-day etiquette for newcomers to this wonderfully exciting walk of life. Simply take heed of the following and not only will you avoid standing out like a sore thumb, chances are you’ll have a much better time from start to finish:
DO try to remember that a day at the races is more like a marathon than a sprint. Position yourself at the exit of any event and chances are you will see more than a few attendees exit at the end of the day in a rather sorry state. The reason being that they got carried away a little too early on and forgot to pace themselves. Go easy on the libations, stay hydrated and take your time – you’re in for the long-haul.
DO help yourself to any free snacks that are available, but don’t go piling up your plate or filling your pockets like you haven’t eaten in weeks. Take whatever is on offer one at a time throughout the day, as opposed to acting like you’re at an eating contest rather than a track.
DO take note of the kind of dress code and standards you can expect at the event and the racetrack you intend to attend. The reason being that failing to do so could go one of two ways. You may turn up looking ridiculously overdressed and end up self-conscious for the rest of the day, just as you may turn up and be refused entry for looking like you just came from the beach. Find out in advance what you should and should not be wearing, sticking to the rules once you learn them.
DON’T try to save money by sneaking your own bottles or cans of alcohol on to the premises. For one thing, it’s highly likely that you will be searched on entry and given your marching orders if found to be smuggling booze. For another, you’ll find it extremely hard to consume any of the stuff during the day without attracting attention from the kind of people that would revel in seeing you thrown out. It might be expensive on the day, but it’s the price you have to pay for this kind of lifestyle.
DON’T under any circumstances try to get anywhere on the day that is not permitted by your ticket. There will be plenty of VIP sections and glamorous roped-off areas that are just begging to be explored…don’t do it. These are the kinds of events where such behaviour isn’t tolerated and you are unlikely to be successful if you try your hand at blagging. Be aware of what your ticket does and does not entitle you to, being careful not to cross the line at any time.
DO exercise discretion and humility when it comes to wins and losses alike. No matter how devastating the result may be, it is your responsibility to remain calm, collected and under no circumstances make a scene at any time. Right at the opposite end of the scale, you also need to ensure that you are gracious in victory. Even if you win the kind of cash that takes you straight into a higher tax bracket, be wary of celebrating too vigorously when you may be surrounded by those who have lost just as much…if not more.
DO be aware of the fact that it is highly likely you will be spending much of the day outdoors, potentially in areas with very little shade available. Not so much of a problem when the weather isn’t at its best, but potentially problematic when the sun is shining. The best advice is to always use sunscreen before heading off for a day at the races, or covering up with light clothing if it is likely to be a particularly sunny day. And of course, it’s also in your best interests to take along as much warm clothing as necessary if it doesn’t look as though the weather is going to be particularly friendly.
DON’T fall into the common rookie trap of thinking there is any leeway whatsoever when it comes to wins, losses and so on. The simple fact of the matter is that regardless of how good you think you are at haggling, the result is the result. It doesn’t matter if you made a mistake, the fact that you misread the odds is inconsequential and if your losses mean you won’t be able to pay the mortgage. Be aware and conscious of everything you do at all times and do not even try to talk your way into or out of anything – you’ll only end up out the front door!
DO be wary of tips from other gamblers as you technically have no idea whatsoever if they have a clue what they are talking about. They might, but there’s also a chance they might be talking complete and utter nonsense. Likewise, it is just as important to ensure that you never under any circumstances offer any tips or advice to anyone else, unless you can largely guarantee their success. The last thing you want is an angry punter charging your way, blaming you in full for the enormous losses they have just incurred.
DON’T count on winning so much as a penny and ensure that you are in a position where whatever you lose on the day, you can still leave with a smile on your face. Contrary to popular belief, horse racing and betting in all its forms are not about making money. Instead, they are supposed to be about having fun with the added bonus of possibly taking home a win here and there. The moment you begin taking it too seriously is the moment you should probably walk away and think about trying something else.