Saturday, 28 March 2015

Purse-Friendly Tips for the Races

Going to the races provides a great day out, however it can also prove costly. Tickets can be expensive, food is double the price than what you can normally grab, you can get carried away betting and that's after having to purchase an outfit! I'm not an avid racegoer, however I am finding myself starting to go to more races and some of them are quite large ones - ie Cheltenham Festival and Royal Ascot. I thought I would provide some tips on how to make the experience a bit more budget friendly as we all know that the majority of our money ends up being spent on our four-legged friends!

#1: Book in advance
Tickets are already on sale for next years Cheltenham festival and you can purchase Club Area tickets for just £79 for Gold Cup day. This may sound expensive but considering in January I paid £74 for Tattersall tickets on the Friday (though that included food & betting vouchers) and Club tickets were £150+, then I'd say that £79 was a pretty good bargain! Races increase their prices steadily as the race gets nearer. For example, Royal Ascot is currently £47 for Grandstand tickets on the opening day as long as you purchase them before the end of March.. Therefore, it's best to plan ahead - at least with the major races!

#2: Sort out accommodation & travel early.
Similarly, once you know you're going make sure you look at travel deals and if it's a bit of a trek then maybe make a bigger deal out of it and extend it to a couple of days so you can go exploring or shopping. I went to purchase train tickets for Cheltenham to be greeted with a £100 train fare, no thank you! Instead we opted for National Express who were doing a bus service at only £30 return. It meant a 4am start but at least we got there early, didn't have the hassle of finding a parking space or getting from the train station to the racecourse. It's also convenient at the end of the day when you're tired and don't want the hassle of driving or getting trains! If you're planning on staying over then book a hotel well in advanced! We hoped to stay over after Cheltenham but there were no rooms available unless we wanted to pay about £500!

#3: Bet sensibly
No, this isn't going to be a 'gamble awareness' talk but set aside a small amount of cash that you don't mind using to bet that might not be returned. I tend to only bet around £2.50 or £5 and mainly each way meaning my maximum bet is £10. I'm slightly too chicken to bet more or to place it on a win but it means that it's not the end of the world when the horse I bet on is the one that comes cantering in last without a rider! I don't always go for the dead certain favourite either as the bets aren't always so good! It's nice to sometimes put a bet on a random horse and earn some back when it unexpectedly comes in first or second or even third! You never know, you could get more money back than what you started with!

#4: Check your existing wardrobe
I will be the first to admit that going to the races or anywhere 'fancy' automatically makes me start browsing for new items of clothing. However, it's worth checking your wardrobe first to see if there is anything you can wear, or even to look at what accessories/coats you have that you can use and then plan an outfit around rather than buying a complete outfit. Whilst on this subject, make sure your outfit is relevant to the weather/season/event. At Cheltenham, there were people behind us on the coach who wore summery style clothing with peep-toe summery shoes. No offence but they looked rather silly! Cheltenham is well known for it's tweed and boots (not Hunters though as these women decided)! I wore a simple navy lace dress that can be worn for work or a meal and also my trust block heeled Chelsea boots which are comfy and work with anything!

#5: Family fun
Many racecourses now have family zones which are often free or really cheap. Whilst these areas don't provide access to the parade ring, they are often situated on the opposite side of the track to the main grandstand area so still provide good viewing as well as children's entertainment. Definitely worth a look if you fancy a fun family day out (it's cheaper than the zoo!!).

So there are my five tips for making a day out to the races just that bit friendlier for the bank balance!

Thanks for reading,
Laura xx

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