How do you choose your horse in the paddock at a point-to-point?
Some study the form guide; others pick their favourite jockey colours — and those silks are steeped in history. On the eve of the point-to-point season kick off, here are nine facts that might surprise you…
1. Chariot drivers in Ancient Rome were the first to sport racing colours in the form of coloured capes and headbands.
2. Henry VIII was the first to use racing silks in 1515, although their use became established in the latter part of the 17th century during the reign of Charles II and Queen Anne.
3. As racing became more widespread around the mid to late 1700s, there was a need to differentiate between horses. The Jockey Club decided that every single set of silks had to be personalised for easier identification.
4. In 1762, 19 members of The Jockey Club registered their colours at Newmarket for the first time.
5. One of these, the ‘straw’ colours registered by the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, are still used by the family’s racing stable today. They are thought to be the oldest jockey silks in existence.
6. In the beginning, the colours were all solid and topped with a black velvet cap. Some owners would use a family coat of arms to differentiate themselves.
7. Solid-coloured silks have become some of the most sought after due to the long history associated with them. Because of this, it is not unusual for a retiring owner to put their silks up for auction as solid colours often go for a hefty sum.
8. Despite being called jockey silks, the colours are actually used to represent the owner of the horse, and jockeys will typically change colours numerous times throughout a raceday.
9. There are approximately 14,400 sets of silks registered with Weatherbys.