Cheltenham Festival under way – with key change for racegoers

By John Mercury March 13, 2024

Racegoers are set to see a major change to the Cheltenham Festival this year.

The second day of the annual horse racing event was previously known as Ladies Day, where attendees, celebrities and members of the Royal Family would show off high fashion outfits.

But it has now been renamed to Style Wednesday – and is open to both men and women.

The day will also feature a “slow fashion” awards ceremony – instead of the “best dressed” prize handed out in previous years.

A spokesperson for the Gloucestershire racecourse said: “This year we re-launched day two of the festival as Style Wednesday to celebrate ‘fast horses, slow fashion’, encouraging racegoers to make more sustainable fashion choices, showcasing their unique and personal style, and to share the stories behind their amazing outfits with friends, family and on social media.

“This includes re-wearing outfits they already have in their wardrobes, purchasing timeless garments to wear again and again and also buying from retailers specialising in pre-loved clothing.”

Highland Hunter (right) being ridden by Paddy Brennan on day one of the 2024 Cheltenham Festival. Pic: PA
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Highland Hunter (right) being ridden by Paddy Brennan on Tuesday. Pic: PA

It comes after two horses died during racing on Tuesday, including 11-year-old Highland Hunter.

Fergal O’Brien, who trained the horse, wrote on X: “Not sure we’ll be tweeting again today after this.

“Absolutely devastated. Thanks for the messages we’re already receiving and those to come #RIPHighlandHunter.”

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The horse first raced in January 2018.

According to Animal Aid, 76 horses have died at Cheltenham since 2000.

Queen Camilla was a high profile attendee of Ladies Day at Cheltenham last year. Pic: PA
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Queen Camilla was a high-profile attendee of Ladies Day last year. Pic: PA

It comes after The Jockey Club – which runs Cheltenham and other races – announced an overhaul of its long-standing dress code last year.

In a statement at the time, chief executive Nevin Truesdale said enforcing a dress code seemed “rather outdated”.

He added: “Of course that doesn’t mean we are discouraging people from dressing up for a day at the races if they want to. This is about giving people a choice and the opportunity to come racing dressed however they feel most comfortable and confident”.

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