General,  Horse Racing

5 Must Haves for the Spring Carnival

Spring has sprung which means the racing carnival has begun! While the spring carnival is going to look a little different for Melbourne residents this year, for me in Perth, it’s the start of exciting times. For those new to racing, the spring carnival can be daunting with its glitz and glamour. To help you all, I’ve put a list together of my 5 “must haves” for the spring carnival.


Something on your head is an absolute must for the spring carnival. Not only does it add more class to the day but it’s also the only time you can wear something fancy on your head without looking out of place (unless you’re going to a royal wedding). You’d be surprised at how much one can finish off your outfit nicely, plus it’s another opportunity to express your personality through fashion. You don’t have to go all out like the Fashion on the Field entrants, as they take it to a whole new level. Anything that looks elegant will do.

Personally, I’m not a big believer in spending heaps of money on headpieces, though it is nice to invest in one or two pricier pieces. If you’re on a budget then headbands from the Miss Shop at Myer are a great starting point. Myer also stocks a good range of fascinators, including some gorgeous Morgan and Taylor pieces (and their boaters which I was obsessed with last year). If you don’t want something that someone else might be wearing and don’t mind spending that little bit extra, then I would recommend Cessiah Alice or Eve Til Dawn.

Morgan and Taylor boater – more details here

Hats are applicable to you too men! While a headpiece isn’t essential like it is for women, a hat does provide some sun protection. My Dad got his from Myer, while you could also look in some speciality stores.

Suitable outfit

Ladies, there is nothing more unattractive at the races than taking your shoes off towards the end of the day! Uncomfortable shoes combined with outfits that would be more appropriate at a nightclub than the race track, and you have yourself a disaster. To combat this, a suitable outfit and shoes are a must have.

Now, some places at the track will have dress codes. For example, at the Perth Racing members areas, dress lengths are to be no higher than mid-to-lower thigh and no mid-drifts are allowed. For the men, a collard button-down business or formal shirt with tailored trousers are required. It can get hot at Ascot in summer so a jacket isn’t a must, but I do like a tie, especially if it matches your partner’s outfit (or in my case, I match Dad to me).

Dad and I matching with pops of orange. Outfit details here.

So, when planning an outfit, definitely keep the dress code in mind and always check where you’ll be located if a friend has invited you. Personally, I like to stick to the members dress code no matter where I am, because that just adds to the class of the day. Like headpieces, you don’t have to spend a lot to look good and don’t turn to the FOTF girls for inspiration because they will be the most dressed up there. Again, Myer has some very reasonably priced pieces, and I can’t go passed a Review dress, they’re always classic and elegant.

One of my favourite Review dresses

Shoes are more of a personal thing but the biggest thing to keep in mind is that you, one, could be standing for a good proportion of the day and two, you could be standing on grass. For the latter, definitely opt for either a wedge shoe or these stoppers that you put on the bottom of your heels so you don’t sink into the grass (they’ll also protect the heel from grass damage). To ensure that you can stand in them all day, pick shoes that you’ve worn before, wear them in beforehand and/or don’t wear anything that has a very high heel. If heels are an absolute must for you, then perhaps pack a pair of flats that you can leave in the car or fit in your bag.

A form guide

I get it, a lot of socialites go to the races during the spring carnival and they don’t even know there’s racing going on (just think of the birdcage!). However, if you’re actually interested in the amazing athletes, which are the racehorses, and want to get to know them a little bit better then I suggest you get yourself a form guide. Plus, your friends will think you’re amazing when you’re tipping winners left, right and centre.

As an owner, I usually get a racebook for free, but you can purchase them on track if that’s what you’d like. If you prefer paper copies than there is always a form guide in the West Australian every Saturday. Electronically, you can find one on the CRIS website, (which is probably the most user-friendly and in-depth) or if you’re betting online, just tap on the horse’s name to reveal their full form.

If you’re new to the races and don’t know how to read the form guide, then I’d highly recommend reading my post “How To Read The Form Guide”.

Access to food and water

Getting drunk at the races and stumbling home is certainly not attractive, nor is drunken behaviour towards others, especially the jockeys. It can easily happen with alcohol and sun being a deadly combination. So, to avoid this embarrassment, ensure that you have access to substantial food and water.

If you’re in a function area then food will be available, but if you’re in the public area at Ascot then there aren’t a lot of food options. A handy tip though is that you can take your own food. So, if picnics and nibble food are your kind of thing than this is definitely an option, plus it would certainly make the day at the races cheaper. The only things that you can’t bring are commercial food, any alcohol and sharp objects (aka knives). Another thing to note too, unless you’re happy sitting on a picnic blanket all day with your food, then I do suggest that you get to the track early as the tables go pretty quickly on feature race days.

So, now you’ve got your food sorted, what about staying hydrated. Like I previously said, alcohol and the sun don’t mix well together, so while it’s easy to drink alcohol all day, you probably should mix it up with some water as well. From memory, there is access to free water around Ascot, plus there are a few water bubblers as well. If carrying a water bottle doesn’t bother you (or you’re trying to look after the environment) then feel free to bring one, but just ensure there are no commercial labels on it.

Common sense

You’d be surprised but a little common sense can go a long way. Firstly, let’s start with practical common sense objects. If you’re going to be in the sun, then wear sunscreen! There’s nothing worse than waking up the next day burnt (and drunk if you’ve consumed too much alcohol). Apply some before you go and reapply throughout the day. From memory, there is sunscreen available around Ascot, but little free samples are also the perfect size to put in your handbag. With that in your handbag, ladies, also pack some Band-Aids. That way if your shoes are hurting you, you can put a Band-Aid on, instead of taking your shoes off. In my handbag, I also like to pack my makeup essentials so I can touch up my makeup throughout the day. Some antihistamines never go astray too if horses, flowers and grass set you off.

Lastly, pack some manners. The carnival days can get super busy, so there will be some crowded spaces and long lines (though Perth is nowhere near as bad as over east). Be patient and don’t shove. Please avoid one of my pet hates too, which is using inappropriate language towards jockeys and strappers. If you have a bet and lose, then don’t talk through your wallet (and my tip, don’t bet more than you’re prepared to lose). Everyone is there to have a good time so keep it civil.

So, I hope you find these 5 “must haves” for the spring carnival helpful. The spring carnival is all about colour and fun, so do ensure that you have a great day at the track. It’s looking like it’s going to be a busy period for me at Ascot come carnival time, so feel free to say hi if you see me around!

Spring has sprung which means the racing carnival has begun! To you help navigate the glitz of the spring carnival, I’ve put A together a list of my 5 must have for the spring carnival.

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