Your race day survival guide: don’t make these mistakes

Race day is here, you’re dressed to the nines and you’ve mentally prepared yourself to keep your heels on all day. But despite your best efforts, somewhere in amongst the eating, the drinking and perfecting that Instagram snap those intentions are out the window and you’re wishing you took your Mum’s advice and brought a pair of flats.  

It’s a common story, but no matter how hard we try, staying hydrated, eating well, making smart alcohol choices and keeping ourselves polished seems almost… impossible.

Unlike the actual horse races, our day at the track is a marathon - not a sprint, so here are some tips to enjoy the day from start to finish that won’t see you limping home with heels in hand.

1. Don't be that friend 

To avoid being the liability of the group, know your limits.

“Getting drunk is definitely the biggest mistake,” according to etiquette expert, Anna Musson. Rather, pace yourself, drink plenty of water and eat proper meals. “Factor in what time you’re leaving and if it’s going to be a huge day, maybe wait until closer to midday before you start drinking.”

2. Rain, hail or shine

Not only will you feel ridiculous in a sundress when it’s pouring rain, you’ll also be squinting the day away if you forget your sunglasses, so make sure to check the weather.

“You may need a wrap, a coat, sunglasses, sunscreen or lower heeled shoes – all important factors,” says Musson.

And, if wearing lower heeled shoes will help you keep them on all day, according to Musson – you should do it. Taking your shoes off comes in as one of the biggest mistakes you can make on race day.  

3. Think like Meghan and dress like a lady

No Beyoncé, this isn’t the club. Race day attire is considerably different to your party look, so take the opportunity to up the stakes when it comes to class.

“Keep your shoulders covered, your dress to your knees or just below. Shoes should be closed heel to toe. Hats may be worn inside and out until the sun goes down,” suggests Musson.  

And gents, have some fun with your fashion. Go for a light-coloured suit, but always keep your shirt lighter. For example, if you’re wearing a beige suite, go for a white shirt. Never match your pocket square exactly to your tie and unlike the ladies, hats must be removed inside.

4. Doughnut overdo it

One of the best things about the races (or any event) is the food. While fried food may be tempting throughout the day, especially once you’ve had a couple of drinks, it won’t do you any favours when it comes to lasting an entire day at the track (in a semi-respectable manner).

“Even ‘healthier’ canapes can add up fast and it’s difficult to keep track of how much you’re eating,” says dietitian Dr Joanna McMillan.

“Look for protein and avoid fried or pastry-based canapes. Anything that has some meat, like sushi and sashimi will help keep you full. Oysters and egg-based dishes are another good choice.”

5. I like pina coladas

Don’t we all? But there are some things to consider when choosing drinks if you don’t want to be stumbling by lunchtime with a hangover lasting into the next week. Wise choices can help prevent bloating, headaches and spaced out with plenty of water, you’ll be feeling fresh the whole day through.   

“If people are constantly filling up your glass and you never actually finish your drink, it’s hard to keep track of your consumption,” says McMillan.

Avoid those high in sugar, like spirits with mixers. Spirits are generally low in sugar, but adding just half a can of coke to your drink will add around 20 grams of sugar – that’s five teaspoons! Even worse is liqueurs, with Kahlua containing 33 grams of sugar per 30ml (roughly eight teaspoons). Wine is the safest choice, typically containing 1-1.5 grams of sugar per standard glass.   

“The crucial thing is to be mindful. Don’t feel pressured to drink if you don’t want to and stick to your guns,” says McMillan.

There you go, a few things to keep in mind for your best race day yet. But the last and most important tip according to Musson, is “friends don’t let friends embarrass themselves”. Enjoy the day, have a drink and always, always, have your girls’ back.  

Your race day survival guide: don’t make these mistakes