The origins of Racing Silks probably date back to medieval times, when Knights on horseback would wear bright colours to identify themselves in battle or during jousting contests.
Today it’s a requirement of horseracing that every owner must register at least one set of Silks (Colours), this allows punters and racecourse officials to quickly identify a horse and jockey. Originally the garments would have been made of Silk. Today, however the garments are usually made of Satin and finished with a waterproof coating. The fabric is lightweight and weighs just 150gms!
No two owners are permitted to have the exact same colours as anybody else, by mixing up the base colours with different sleeves, hat, hoops, stripes, spots, diamonds and stars it’s possible to make 12.6 million different combinations eligible for registration by the British Racing Authority! In total there is 27 different jacket designs, 12 Sleeve types and 10 hat patterns. Jockeys trousers are always white.
The highest price paid at Auction for a set of silks is £60,000, both ‘Plain Pink’ in 2000 and ‘Lime Green’ in 2004 set the record. One set of silks that you’ll never see auctioned are the Queen’s racing colours: Purple body with gold braid, Scarlet sleeves and Black velvet cap with gold fringe. The Queen is the only owner permitted to have gold braid on silks and cap.