We know you have heard of the University of Cambridge, one of the more notable and historic colleges in all of the world. Did you know that just a few miles east of the campus lies one of the most prominent racecourses in all of the United Kingdom?
That’s right; Newmarket Racecourse in Suffolk County is the site of arguably the most impressive horse training facility found anywhere on the planet. There’s a reason why the National Horse Racing Museum is located in Newmarket and why it’s commonly thought of as the “home of British horse racing.”
This guide is designed to tell you everything you can imagine wanting to know about the horse racing venue in Newmarket. We’ll start with how it got started and transition into describing both courses at the property as well as the massive training grounds. We’ll address the illustrious 2000 and 1000 Guineas Stakes, as well as a couple other well-known events that are annually held at Newmarket.
Before we let you go, we’ll make sure to include some details on traveling to the area, should you be thinking about scheduling a trip. With as much as the racecourse at Newmarket has to offer, something tells us you either have been there before or are yearning to schedule a vacation to the surrounding area.
Enough talking about how great this place is. It’s time to dive in!
Overview of Newmarket Racecourse
Jockey Club Racecourses
2000 Guineas Stakes, 1000 Guineas Stakes, July Cup, Fillies’ Mile
Although the racecourse in Newmarket wasn’t officially open to the public until 1667, story has it that a £100 bet between the Marquess of Buckingham and Lord Salisbury took place in 1622. The wager was on a race between horses that each man owned. Just 14 years later, in 1636, the racecourse was established. King Charles II is the one who led the growth and expansion of horse racing in the town of Newmarket.
By 1667, the racecourse at Newmarket was formally opened. King Charles actually rode the victorious horse in the running of the 1671 Newmarket Town Plate.
Along with the King’s Plate, the Town Plate was the biggest race at Newmarket in the early going. By 1809, the Guineas Festival was created, and that was the new big show in town. By 1840, things had really picked up, and there were seven yearly race meetings.
Just because the Jockey Club didn’t take over control and command of the racecourse until 1974 doesn’t mean there weren’t some widely-acclaimed events taking place long before that. Before we start jumping into the specific races at Newmarket, it’s important you know about the layout of the track – or shall we say tracks.
Two Distinct Courses at Newmarket
To fully grasp the outline of the racecourse setup, you need to understand that there are actually two distinct turf racecourses at Newmarket. The similarities are that both courses are widespread and are used for flat racing only. Sorry, boys and girls – no obstacles or fences at Newmarket.
The Rowley Mile Course
Although some small aircrafts have been known to land on the grassy strip of land on the Rowley Mile Course, the main intention of this course is for horse races during the spring and fall seasons. The straight is 10 furlongs, which is the equivalent of 1 ¼ miles.
There is a noticeable dip towards the end of the course. After the second-to-last furlong shoots the jockeys and their horses downhill, they must climb back uphill for the final 200-meter stretch. This is the site of the famous 2000 and 1000 Guineas Stakes races.
The July Course
If you had to guess when this course was predominantly used, we bet you can come up with the answer. Also referred to as the Summer Course, the July Course is used to host a series of competitions that take place during the month of July.
The middle portion of this one-mile track features a lengthy downhill section before the Thoroughbreds must ascent back up a hill for the final furlong. Nicknamed “The Bunbury Mile,” the July Course is home to some fairly prestigious events such as the July Cup and the Falmouth Stakes.
Technically, there’s more. The Round Course is a third track on site but is only used once a year for the Newmarket Town Plate.
If races need to be extended on the Rowley Mile Course, the Cesarewitch or the Beacon Course can be implemented. This will start the horses off in a different area before making a right-hand turn into the straight.
All things considered, this is one of the more versatile flat racecourses in all of Britain.
Some Huge Races at Newmarket
Have you heard of the British Classic Races? You know, the five Group 1 races that are considered the “five majors” of flat racing in Britain? Two of them take place at Epsom Down, while the last one is held at Doncaster in South Yorkshire.
The first two legs of the British Classic Races are both hosted at Newmarket Racecourse in the spring season. Don’t worry; as you will learn below, we have created separate, individual guides on the 2000 Guineas Stakes and the 1000 Guineas Stakes. They are simply too renowned of horse races to try and describe in a few short paragraphs.
What we will do is go over the July Cup and the Fillies’ Mile, two very popular races annually held at Newmarket. They say that a horse racing venue is only as great as the events that are run there. It’s a good thing that it doesn’t get much bigger than the competitions at Newmarket.
2000 Guineas Stakes
Who thought the only featured Thoroughbred race held on the first Saturday in May was the Kentucky Derby? The United Kingdom has their own version. Follow along.
The 2000 Guineas Stakes at Newmarket is the first leg of the United Kingdom Triple Crown of Thoroughbred racing. Colts, fillies, it doesn’t matter. If you own a three-year-old Thoroughbred, you will do everything in your power to get him or her into the field at the 2000 Guineas Stakes.
We want you to know all about this one-mile event. From how it got started in 1809 to who has the record for the fastest time, there is so much to divulge about this revered horse race. Don’t miss out on discovering history. Check out our dedicated page on the 2000 Guineas Stakes below.
If you thought the hugely-important events at Newmarket were done after the completion of the 2000 Guineas Stakes, guess again. The very next day, the 1000 Guineas Stakes is run, and this one has just as much excitement and anticipation.
The main difference between the two is that no male horses will be competing in Sunday’s marquee event. We have a whole lot more we want to tell you about this prominent event. Just like the 2000 Guineas Stakes is the first leg of the Triple Crown in the UK, the 1000 Guineas Stakes represents the first leg of the Fillies’ Triple Crown.
Find out a heck of a lot more on our in-depth page. We’ll talk highlights, we’ll talk prize pool, and we’ll even uncover some of the lesser-known facts about the race. The only way to find out more is to click the button you see underneath.
Now that we’ve talked about the two biggest races at Newmarket, both held on the Rowley Mile Course, it’s time to introduce the most recognizable race hosted on the July Course. Appropriately named the July Cup, this race came to be way back in 1876.
The objective here is quite straightforward. There are no big turns to prepare for. This isn’t a long race that horses need to pace themselves on and be conscious of their stamina. This is 6-furlong (1,207 meters) flat-out sprint to the finish line. May the fastest horse win more than £283,000 out of the £500,000 that makes up the total purse.
In order to compete, both male and female horses must have celebrated their third birthdays. Three-year-olds must carry an additional 9 stone, while the four-year-old and up Thoroughbreds must add an extra 6 pounds on top of that to balance out the playing field.
What started out as a Group 2 event when the rating system was created in 1971, the July Cup was lifted to a Group 1 event seven years later. Since 2005, the July Cup has been part of the Global Sprint Challenge, although the 2018 edition was canceled due to a quarrel between the powers that rule horse racing in Hong Kong and Australia.
Regardless, the July Cup “sprint” remains one of the most exciting short-distance races in England.
It’s always held on the culminating day of Newmarket’s three-day series of events in July. Lethal Force set a new mark for the fastest time recorded here with a rapid pace of 1:09.11, beating the time set by Stravinsky in 1999 by four-tenths of a second. Three-year-old colt Muhaarar narrowly missed rewriting the record books in 2015 when he finished the race just 0.23 seconds slower than Lethal Force did two years prior.
The most accomplished horse in this event would have to be Sunridge, who captured three in a row from 1902-1904. It remains to be seen if another horse can achieve quite the triumph, but we certainly aren’t holding our breath waiting for it to happen.
If you can appreciate Group 1 horse races that sport prize pools worth more than half a million pounds, surely you will admire the £567,500 Fillies’ Mile event that is held every October at Newmarket. What is interesting about this competition is that the only horses competing are two-year-old fillies. Strap on 9 stone of supplementary weight, and it’s off to the races.
Relatively new in the sport of flat racing, the Fillies’ Mile wasn’t introduced until 1973. Since then, it has moved around quite a bit, so let us try and fill you in with the cliff notes. Originally held at the world-famous Ascot Racecourse, the race was moved to Newmarket in 2005 when Ascot closed for refurbishment.
The Fillies’ Mile was permanently moved to Newmarket Racecourse in 2011 after Shadwell Racing took over sponsorship. The date of the event has been moved around the years as well, most recently being held on the Friday of the Future Champions Festival.
There have been more than a few talented fillies to win this race and go on to have successful careers in Thoroughbred racing. Lyric of Light ripped through the mile race in just 1:35.98 in 2011, setting a new record for the quickest time. Laurens came awful close in 2017 when she finished the Fillies’ Mile in 1:36.15, just 0.17 seconds off the record pace.
While owners of two-year-old fillies are generally trying to train their “girls” for the upcoming racing season, this is an event they don’t want to miss out on. Given that the winning filly takes up a handsome £321,000+, it’s pretty safe to say that this race is circled on the calendar.
Getting to Newmarket and What You Will Find
If you have been contemplating scheduling a trip to Newmarket Racecourse, what are you really waiting for? Everybody knows that the horse-training facility is the biggest in all of the United Kingdom. We are more than aware that there are some pretty intriguing events on the racing calendar at Newmarket.
What the average person unfamiliar with the area might not know is that Newmarket is also the home of two fairly significant attractions.
British Horseracing Museum
No matter what races are going on at Newmarket, you can always count on the National Horseracing Museum at the Palace House as a go-to place of interest. From documents and stories from the earliest times to the treasured silks worn by the most famous accomplished jockeys, this museum truly tells the story of horse racing in the United Kingdom from beginning to end.
After finishing in the museum, don’t forget to check out the British Sporting Art Trust also located in the Palace House. Here, you will find displays and galleries of the evolution of other sports in Britain. If you enjoy outdoor sports such as fishing, hunting, shooting, rowing, and archery, you’ll love the Sporting Art Trust.
Most avid fans of horse racing are more than cognizant of Tattersalls in Newmarket. For those that don’t know, it’s only the largest auctioneer of horses anywhere in the UK. Think about it for what it is – the biggest dealer or agency for buying and selling horses in Britain. We are talking more than 10,000 horses sold annually. Their headquarters are just a mile or so from the Newmarket Racecourse.
Many famous horses have been bought and sold at Tattersalls.
It was opened way back in 1766 by stud groom Richard Tattersall. In fact, it remained a family business all the way up until 1942 when Somerville Tattersall passed away and his three partners took over control. Fast forward to today, and it’s a well-oiled machine when it comes to transferring the ownership of some of the most expensive Thoroughbreds in the world.
Now that you have plenty to do when you get there, let’s get to the part where we explain how that’s done!
Luckily for racing fans not living in or around Suffolk County, the London Stansted Airport is an easy 50-km drive to the racetrack in Newmarket.
If you can’t find a cheap flight into Stansted, both Heathrow and Gatwick are approximately 150 km (90 miles) or so from Newmarket Racecourse. The benefit of flying into one of those two major gigantic airports is that you can stop by some of London’s landmarks on the way. If you want to check out Big Ben or St. Paul’s Cathedral, look for a flight into Heathrow. The route from Heathrow Airport to Newmarket Racecourse allows you to pass through the center of London and take a “pit stop” at whatever piques your interest.
We don’t want you to think you have to stop in London to see historical buildings. We already told you about the British Horseracing Museum and Tattersalls located right in the heart of Newmarket.
You also know that the esteemed and highly-respected University of Cambridge sits just 20 minutes west of Newmarket Racecourse.
Pretty cool place, huh? The racecourse in Newmarket has a plethora of rich traditions filled amongst the walls of the property. First, it’s the home of the largest training facility for Thoroughbred horses anywhere in the United Kingdom. It’s also the site of the 2000 Guineas Stakes and the 1000 Guineas Stakes – two of the most distinguished horse races in all of England.
Understanding the layout of the two courses helps you picture the events taking place. We also wanted to fill you in on a couple other big events held at Newmarket; that way you would realize how important this venue is to British horse racing.
It’s the site of the National Horseracing Museum as well as Tattersalls, the center of buying and selling Thoroughbreds in Britain. With all there is to offer at Newmarket, it’s no mystery why loads of folks want to travel to the racecourse.
Flying in? We revealed the most logical forms of transportation, should you be booking airfare.
Essentially, just about everything you would want to know about the racecourse in Newmarket was included in this guide. Places as appreciated as Newmarket Racecourse are more than worthy of having a well-organized and planned-out page. This was our version of doing the course in Newmarket the justice it deserves.