ASCOT chiefs have apologised and offered a five-figure sum in refunds after branding racegoers who fell short of their new, tougher dress code with orange stickers.
Visitors to the premier enclosure who did not meet revised standards – men without jacket and tie, for example – were admitted for Saturday’s meeting but tagged with labels as a reminder.
“It is clear that we let down many of our premier enclosure customers yesterday with a well intentioned but misguided policy,” said Ascot chief executive Charles Barnett.
“No customer should be expected to pay for such an experience and we have taken the view that all premier enclosure visitors yesterday will receive a full refund. We have worked very hard for many years to establish ourselves as a benchmark for customer service and are making this statement today to reinforce that we will not allow our reputation as a welcoming sports venue to be tarnished by an isolated lack of judgment on our part.”
Ascot’s stricter dress code follows criticism that standards had slipped at the racecourse, home to one of the calendar’s most prestigious occasions in Royal Ascot. It states men must wear “a jacket and tie, smart trousers or smart jeans” and forbids sports shoes. On hot days guests are permitted to remove jackets, but only once an official announcement has been made. Women are advised to “dress for a smart occasion”, with hats “encouraged but not compulsory”.
A spokesman for Ascot said the stickers were meant for staff to identify which guests had been spoken to about their dress. He added: “It was clearly the wrong thing to do and there will not be orange tags next time.”