Newmarket Racecourse

Address:
Westfield House, Cambridge Road, Newmarket, Suffolk, CB8 OTG - Map & Directions
Telephone:
01638 663482
The Millennium Grandstand at Newmarket
The Millennium Grandstand at Newmarket (Bob Jones / geograph.org.uk)

Located on the border of Suffolk and Cambridgeshire, Newmarket racecourse is consistently referred to as the British horseracing headquarters, due to being home of the largest cluster of training yards in the country, as well as hosting the National stud and the National Horseracing Museum. Newmarket hosts two of the UK’s five classic races – the 1000 Guineas and the 2000 Guineas – as well as being home to nine of Britain’s 32 group 1 races. In the early 17th century, James I built the initial racecourse at Newmarket and since then the course has managed to uphold its original thatched roofs and historic traditions, whilst still managing to constantly refurbish and modernise the facilities. Newmarket is one of the busiest racecourses in the UK, with 37 race meetings taking place each year between April and November.

Just 12 miles form Cambridge and 60 miles form London, Newmarket racecourse is very accessible for all customers whether travelling by car or by train. Those travelling by train should go to Cambridge which is served by both London Kings Cross and Liverpool Street, with further rail connections to Newmarket available from there. The racecourse offers a subsidised coach service from both Newmarket town centre and Cambridge rail station. Customers driving are advised to take the A11 or A14, both of which provide easy access from major cities via the M11 and M1.

Ticket Prices

Entry to the premier enclosure starts from just £18.75, whilst grandstand access is available for as little as £12. Customers under the age of 18 are allowed access to either enclosure free of charge when accompanied by a full paying adult.

The Course

The Winning Post at Newmarket
The Winning Post at Newmarket (Richard Humphrey / geograph.org.uk)

The grade 1 course at Newmarket is one of the more unique racing venues the United Kingdom has to offer. It uses two main courses – the Rowley Mile and the July Course, with the latter used exclusively for the summer racing schedule.

Both of these courses connect to another for longer races, the ‘Cesarewitch’ or ‘Beacon’ course, via a right-handed bend. There is also the Round Course, but these days, it’s solely reserved for the Newmarket Town Place, a historic event but not a big one and a contest lacking in modern day importance.

Some of the track at Newmarket is actually on Cambridgeshire turf, making it the only course that allows horses to pass through two counties. It does often seem like the runners are a full county away too as the shape of the course means those racing only really become visible for the final few furlongs. As they get closer, assessing who is in front isn’t the easiest test either as the huge width of the track can see a large number of horses closely contesting the lead.

The July Course is 2m 2f in length with a 1m straight, the Bunbury Mile, following a sharpish right handed bend. The Rowley Mile course features a longer home stretch of 1m 2f – the longest straight in Britain.

Both straights are undulating in nature, but particularly the latter, which includes the famous, or perhaps infamous, dip in the closing stages. It’s partly because of ‘The Dip’ that the Rowley Mile is the trickier of the two courses but another reason is that it’s largely uphill to the line. The July Course is not as stiff, as the ground falls away slightly after initial climb and doesn’t ascend again until the final 200m.

Striving for Fairness

We’ve seen evidence of at least minor draw bias across many racecourses in Britain but Newmarket is one of the exceptions to the rule. There are a couple of ridges down the long 10 furlong straight on the Rowley Mile but nothing that’s produced anything which has had any significant impact on results. Why? A large part of it is because Newmarket goes to such lengths to ensure the best horse wins on the day. This includes adjusting the position of the rails on a fairly regular basis to prevent horses having to race on a more testing strip of ground.

Their efforts don’t always pay off, however, as we saw in the 2014 running of the 2000 Guineas. Despite starting off in the centre of the track, jockeys quickly sent their mounts to the closest rail where the ground was best, leading to two split groups. Michael Prosser, head of racing for the Jockey Club Racecourses East Region, deemed the splitting unsatisfactory and feared in would lead to hard luck stories.

As a result, the stalls moved to the stands side the following year and a false rail, three metres off the permanent rail, was introduced three-furlongs out. The move has helped keep the 2000 Guineas pack in one group, minimising the possibility of any draw bias without leading to excess crowding.

Good for a Gallop

There are undulations, a few ridges and of course the famous Rowley Mile ‘Dip’ but all in all Newmarket firmly remains an ideal destination for galloping types. Horses have absolutely no shortage of space on the wide track and this, combined with the extremely long straights on both main courses, means they can really stretch their legs.

Stamina is needed, especially on the Rowley Mile, to deal with the uphill climbs too though, so even the finest gallopers need the ability to see out the trip. Those who commit early often end up falling short, particularly when facing a head-wind, as there’s absolutely no cover for those leading the pack.

Major Meetings at Newmarket

George Fordham
George Fordham (Leslie Ward / Wikipedia)

Easily the most prestigious races run at Newmarket each year are the two classics. The 1000 Guineas Stakes is just a mile in length and was first run in 1814. The race takes place annually, typically in late April or early May, generally on the Sunday following the 2000 Guineas. The two races are named after their original prize funds, with a guinea being 21 shillings, or £1.05 in today’s currency.

George Fordham is the most successful jockey to date in the 1000 Guineas, with seven wins between 1859 and 1883. The 2000 Guineas Stakes is also run over the distance of a mile and first took place in 1809. It is the opening leg of the Triple Crown, which also includes the Derby and the St Leger, although the feat of winning all three races is very rarely attempted. Other important Group 1 races held each year at Newmarket include the Fillies Mile, the Dewhurst Stakes and the Sun Chariot Stakes, as well as the Middle Park Stakes.

Dining and Hospitality

There are two types of hospitality on offer at Newmarket racecourse. Executive boxes are available in four separate price bands, ranging from the celebration experience which costs £140 + VAT, to the VIP experience which is valued at £260 + VAT.

As well as the boxes, trackside pavilion packages are available and range from £140 to £255 in price, depending on preferences and which options are taken up from those available. There is also a wide range of bars and restaurants to cater to all tastes and budgets.

Map

Swap Start/End

Grudge Matches