Cheltenham rebrands famous Ladies Day as 'Style Wednesday' and will hand out fashion awards for men and women

12 March 2024, 18:10 | Updated: 12 March 2024, 18:16

Ladies Day, Cheltenham Festival in 2015
Ladies Day, Cheltenham Festival in 2015. Picture: Alamy

By Christian Oliver

Cheltenham Festival has rebranded its famous Ladies Day to the gender-neutral 'Style Wednesday' where it will hand out fashion awards to both men and women.

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The horse racing festival quietly ceased advertising the second day as being for "ladies" in 2018 but the tradition still persisted in the following years.

But now the festival's Wednesday has been relaunched as green-focused best-dressed fashion awards that will include both men and women.

A panel will hand out the awards that will focus on "slow fashion" rather than high-end designer ensembles, as has previously been tradition.

"Slow fashion" will involve outfits constructed from charity shop rummaging or trawling through online clothes resellers.

Zara Phillips, Chanelle McCoy and Carla Kyle seen at the Cheltenham Festival, Ladies Day, March 16, 2016
Zara Phillips, Chanelle McCoy and Carla Kyle seen at the Cheltenham Festival, Ladies Day, March 16, 2016. Picture: Alamy

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Wednesday has traditionally been allocated as Ladies Day after Queen Victoria wore a hat to Royal Ascot, another racing festival, in the 1830s. This was subsequently adopted by fellow horse racing events.

Cheltenham is also not the only festival to move away from the Ladies Day label. Ayr Racecourse said last week that it would instead call the celebrations Women's Day after deeming the previous term "slightly dated".

It comes after torrential rain put Wednesday's festivities at risk, requiring an inspection before any races can begin.

Overnight rain has resulted in very soft ground ahead of the start of the 2024 Festival, while the cross-country track is waterlogged in places.

Clerk of the course Jon Pullin said: "We were initially forecast, going back two or three days, to be dry today. Then 48 hours ago that forecast updated to some light showers but only around a millimetre of rainfall. Then yesterday it was updated again to 2-4mm for this morning.

"The forecast which we got last thing yesterday then increased further and gave us some cause for concern and by 6.30 this morning we had actually had 6mm, with a further 4-6mm forecast through the morning.

"A heavier band of rain is due to arrive around 11am but it should be all over by around lunchtime. We might get an odd shower later in the afternoon but that should not be anything too measurable - the worst of this rain should finish this morning."

Crowds gather at Cheltenham Racecourse for the 2020 Festival of racing
Crowds gather at Cheltenham Racecourse for the 2020 Festival of racing. Picture: Alamy

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Pullin explained the cross-country course is more of a challenge than the other tracks as it does not drain as well.

He said: "Both the Old and New courses have taken the rain really well and have been updated to soft, heavy in places. "We only race on the cross-country course three times a year and it hasn't the same level of investment in drainage as the Old and New courses. That means it takes a lot longer to filter through and dry.

"We have called the inspection as it is waterlogged in places at the moment but tomorrow is forecast to be dry and we will do all we can to get the Glenfarclas Chase on as scheduled.

"We are working with the British Horseracing Authority on a contingency plan regarding the possibility of restaging the Glenfarclas Chase on Friday as the first race of the day."