Newmarket - July Course
Approx no. of meetings
39 (across both courses)
Rail from London (1 hr, 19 minutes, 1 change at Cambridge)
Newmarket Racecourses runs a complimentary Shuttle Bus which stops at Newmarket Train Station, Newmarket Town Centre and the racecourse. The racecourse also offers a subsidised bus service from Cambridge.
Railway station to Racecourse (Approximately a mile to Rowley Mill and one and a half to the July Course)
Taxis. -Very plentiful, rank in town and at course (BumbleBee livery)
July Course - Single Premier stand and then a main grandstand area. Under the grandstand was the fine dining restaurant and there were food outlets available across the course from burgers to mac and cheese. A sufficient number of bars and staff to cope with demand including an excellent Moet and Chandon bar overlooking the finish line. The paddock is immaculate and is located to the right of the premier area giving easy ebb and flow to move from the track to the ring. Tote and bookies offices available throughout the course without the need for much queuing.
Bedford Lodge Spa and hotel was excellent. Many options available at a variety of prices.
Premier (£25), Paddock and Grandstand (£16). Discount online in advance, .
(2) Return before challenge complete
August 26th - UK Tracks Visited (18), Ireland Tracks Visited (3)
To finally arrive at the home of English racing in the prestigious 350 year of the jockey club as was something of an event. Let’s start with the town itself and practicalities. If you are coming by car, get there early the High street snarls up quickly. In the mornings there are horses crossing the Bury road to go gallop on the green and from lunchtime the traffic backs up half a mile or more off towards both Bury and Cambridge. We arrived Bedford Lodge and were pleased that this very swish operation was used to people checking in early for the races and our room was ready for Madam Hoof to change into her finery.
Taxi called, we crawled the distance to the track but still arrived in sufficient time to get the feel of the place. I was given a mug a while ago saying a bad day racing Is better than a good day in the office. Firstly, I am yet to experience a bad day racing, but secondly, this our first day at Newmarket (on the July course) was combined with 28-30 degree heat (that over 80 in old money). The place is breath taking not just for the welcome you receive but also the history in which it is steeped.
We took a seat in the Moet and Chandon bar (outside of course) which actually coincides with the finishing line so it could not have been a better location to make a base for the day. The tote was close by, the view was amazing and the parade ring was within easy striking distance on the other side of the tote. The parade ring itself deserves a special mention as being one of the more picturesque we have seen. When the horses leave it they take a quick gallop past you and you have a final opportunity to assess their form before they head up the track.
This course is deceptive and with the poor show both Madam and I had on the betting takes some getting used to. The finishing straight is long and undulating. Many a horse who set of with excessive pace was found languishing near the back when the final climb begins towards the finish. It is however an immense spectacle and all the better for layout of the course which affords an easy view of the last few furlongs from almost every vantage point.
A word about the people on the day. Everyone is in general friendly at race meetings it is a friendly sport, but there is always up and down days and also when external firms are used then quality is not easy to control. At Newmarket we were impressed with all the staff, from the jockey club and from third parties; from the former, the word pride stood out as their real driver. We also managed to have the most wonderful conversation with another couple in the Moet area which were in fact connections of the horse Mississippi. Sam and Stuart were great company and also invited us into the parade ring where we got to meet and wish Paul Hannigan well with his ride. In the end Mississippi did not quite manage to fulfil potential, possibly because of a diminished field, but the experience was still fabulous and we will keep an eye out in future.
I will update our impressions of Newmarket when we return to Rowley Mile and hopefully when the Horse racing museum is back open (We were a bit miffed it was closed, but open according to the website.)