How to win a best-turned out with your racehorse

 In Blog

Winning a best-turned out at the races with your horse is a great confidence boost and it’s nice to get recognition and a prize for your efforts. Some prizes can be up to £150 for the best race on the card and others can be jackets or gifts.

My motto is “Preparation and Practice makes Perfection.”

The day before

The evening before your horse’s race is important to do final checks on their coat and a chance to get their manes tidied up. If your horse is grey then a tail wash too is a good idea too!

I ask my grooms to hot towel the evening before especially in the winter as it may be too cold when you arrive at the races to give your horse a full bath. Hot towelling is using a bucket of hot (not scalding) water with baby oil added. You then use a small towel or stable rubber rung out but not too wet and smooth over a just brushed coat. This will lift any stubborn dust and acts as a nice massage.

A neatly pulled mane makes plaiting easier but if your yard doesn’t plait, a nice straight mane looks just as effective.


Some yards prefer not to plait it is still possible to win turnouts if your horse stands out from the rest.

At our yard, we can plait manes but not tails. I like to teach all my grooms to plait very similarly, quickly and neat so the horse gets chance to rest as much as possible before the race.

The best way is to stand on an upturned bucket or step to get a little higher. This also saves your arms aching! Using a damp brush to lay the mane on the correct side you can then use a comb to section your plaits. I prefer to plait each section as I go and roll the plait straight away as it keeps its tightness. A cheat to get the same size plaits is to use a band as a marker on your comb.

Forelock plaiting is about preference, but I like a French plait as it keeps stray hairs in.

A quick tidy with scissors of the bridle path makes a neat finish.

Quarter marks

Again, yards have different preferences. We like to do a mix of brush marks and sheets depending on the owners’ colours and the condition of the horse’s coat.

A good stiff, rectangular, clean brush is best dampened and using a little pressure brush the coat in its laying direction. A popular mark is three stripes from the top straight down squared off, then two or three sharks’ teeth depending on the horses’ size.


A smart and clean bridle and paddock equipment are a must and a quick last-minute wipe is always beneficial in case any faults have been missed.


It’s not always easy to stay clean whilst preparing your runner but wipe over shoes/boots and brush off any dust helps toward your appearance and believe me someone is always watching.

Last minute touches

Hoof oil, baby oil in a fresh brushed tail and a last check of yourself and your good to go.

Remember to SMILE! If you look happy and proud of your horse any photographs taken will be even better.