Racing should centralise PR and abolish dress codes and enclosures

I can’t recall which racecourse manager thought it a good idea to confiscate a woman’s ice-cream.  I do remember vividly the ‘It’s a Knockout’ version of cooling off horses at the end of the National to the puzzlement of many and concern of a few. After Ascot’s sticker slip-up yesterday, isn’t it time that Racing employed a top-notch PR agency?

Any course who is considering doing something outside of their ‘normal procedure’, should be told they must clear it with central PR. Whether they then kept an individual PR presence would be their choice but clearance of ‘new initiatives’ should be compulsory.

Racing in general is working very hard to attract new people. Are they all expected to know they should pre-check the dress code? If you’d never been to a sporting event before, would you expect there to be a dress code? (Although I suppose racing prepares you for such thoughts)

Does the Olympics have a dress code? The Superbowl? The FA Cup final? Wimbledon? Does The Open Golf Championship have a dress code (in perhaps the most fastidious sport of all?) The answer is – no, they don’t according to the website.

Racing must decide if it wants to live and market itself in a ‘modern’ fashion. Use of the words ‘attired’ and ‘adhere’  (Ascot website) are, to my mind, Victorian expressions.

Dress codes and, indeed, enclosures themselves ought to be abolished. I’ve seen many a newcomer about to go through a gate only to be stopped by stewards and turned away, retreating embarrassed at best and ashamed at worst. By all means charge extra for stand seats, or access to specialist facilities but the only fences on racecourses should be built from birch.

If you cannot stand the sight of someone without a jacket/tie sharing your enclosure, perhaps it’s you who ought to find a different sport.

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