Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner. Facebook Messenger An icon of the facebook messenger app logo. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Facebook Messenger An icon of the Twitter app logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. WhatsApp Messenger An icon of the Whatsapp messenger app logo. Email An icon of an mail envelope. Copy link A decentered black square over a white square.

REBECCA BAIRD: Ladies Day is for floral frocks and fascinators – let’s leave the horses out of it

Crowds filing into Perth Racecourse for Ladies Day yesterday. Picture: Steve MacDougall/DC Thomson.
Crowds filing into Perth Racecourse for Ladies Day yesterday. Picture: Steve MacDougall/DC Thomson.

Let’s get one thing straight – Ladies Day is not about horse racing.

It’s about fashion.

Flick through the photos from yesterday’s Perth Ladies Day and you’ll find a bouquet of floral frocks, fascinating fascinators and fluffy falsies.

And though I swear I can smell the burnt-biscuit whiff of fake tan all the way from Dundee, I have to confess that even a killjoy like me cracked a smile at all the gals who showed up and showed out in their Thursday best.

It’s never really been my scene – any event requiring a strapless bra and blister plasters rarely is – but the word that strikes me when I look at all the wined-up mums and glammed-out girl gaggles, is ‘fun’.

It looks like they’re having great fun, and that’s lovely to see.

But from the oh-so-Instagrammable Edinburgh Gin flower arch to the Best Dressed contest, it’s also clear that Ladies Day is a social competition, not a sporting one – and the most important race is the one to That Bar for the after party.

Sponsors Edinburgh Gin created Pinterest-perfect photo backdrops for the turned-out ladies. Pictures: Steve MacDougall/DC Thomson.

So isn’t it about time we let the pretence drop, and put the horse races out to pasture?

Shall we promenade?

The Ladies Day tradition began at Ascot around 1823, when women would be offered discounted tickets on the third day of the races.

Since the Queen was going to be in attendance, naturally all the ladies wanted to look their best.

It was – and still is – an excuse to dress up, to be lavish and decadent and feel beautiful; all fun things, of which I’m a big fan.

And in our post-pandemic era of dressing gowns, athleisure and baggy jeans, I’m all for people popping off in a new ASOS frock and living out their little Bridgerton fantasies.

Best Dressed winner Karen Milne embodies what Ladies Day is really all about in 2022 – fashion. Pictures: Steve MacDougall /DC Thomson.

But there’s another, more insidious fantasy at work here.

For many of the women there, Ladies Day will have been a one-off day of excitement and glamour.

When the eyelash glue and spidery headwear comes off, they’ll return to the humdrummery of their everyday existence – stacking shelfs, sending emails, catching buses and feeding bairns.

But some won’t.

And the trouble is, when everyone’s all dressed up, there’s no way to tell the difference.

Classy ladies

Ladies Day, with its roots in royalty and Victorian status wars, invites us to cosplay as upper class lassies for the day.

And that would be pure fun and games, if ‘classing up’ stopped at the clothes – but it doesn’t.

Because it’s not a fancy dress party. It’s a horse race.

And horse racing is cruel.

From isolated existences and racing injuries to dying on courses or being brutally slaughtered as ‘wastage’, many of these animals are treated as money-making machines, not living things.

The winner from 14:45 race yesterday. Pictures: Steve MacDougall/DC Thomson.

Much like grouse shooting and fox hunting, it is about rich people creating and sustaining an industry for financial gains, using the benign facades of ‘sport’, ‘tradition’ and ‘camaraderie’ to smooth its image.

The flirty florals may look like innocent fun, but behind all that Pimms and chiffon stands the red-corduroy gang with their inherited sneers and greasy palms and Oxbridge accents.

And honestly the thought of it makes me sicker to the back teeth than those beautiful, bridled thoroughbreds.

So I’m sorry, but whether you’re ‘just there for the atmosphere’ or a proud proponent of the so-called ‘sport’ it doesn’t really matter.

A couple of well turned-out Ladies Day attendees. Picture: Steve MacDougall/DC Thomson.

Culture is shaped by attitudes and actions, not the other way around.

And we can still keep all the fun and fling without the animal abuse and sycophantic Tory worship.

Just look at DDE.

Crack the whip on reinventing Ladies Day

Dundee Dance Event, to be clear, is another one of my personal hells.

Sauvage-sweat, neon neoprene and thumping bass are not my idea of a good time (I’m miserable, I know, it’s fine).

But much like Ladies Day, it looks like fun.

Dundee Dance Event is a huge day on the city’s social calendar, and has a look and feel of its own.

It’s an excuse to get dressed up in a way we normally don’t – albeit more Coachella than Cheltenham. And when everyone sun-drunk and beer-drenched, I’m sure it’s a great time.

Moreover, it’s a cultural event which celebrates modern sensibilities.

It’s focused on fostering homegrown talent, boosting local business and bringing people together over a love of music, dance and sure, a wee drink.

Where Ladies Day clings to outdated customs, events like DDE are examples of communities creating new traditions based on the culture we’re living in now.

DDE revellers a couple of weeks ago. Picture: Kim Cessford/DC Thomson.

And while some will turn up their nose at the poppers, pills and skimpy skirts, I’d pick revelling in that ruckus over roleplaying as refined every time.

So to all the ‘ladies’ of Ladies Day, I have a proposal:

Let’s start building events on the backs of bits we actually like – the fashion, the music, the drinks and the dancing – instead of on the backs of horses.

They’ve carried our culture long enough.