Newmarket, a small town in Suffolk, has been considered
“Headquarters” of horse racing since the sport
blossomed under Royal patronage during the 17th Century.
King James 1 was the first to discover that the flat land
in the area was ideal for galloping horses, and the tradition
was carried on by his grandson Charles 11.it was Charles
“Merry Monarch” who made Newmarket truly fashionable.
He used to move his court here from London, so that at times
the town was capital of England in all but name. The first
recorded race was in 1622, when a horse belonging to Lord
Salisbury beat one of the Marquess of Buckingham’s
for a stake of £100, then an enormous sum. But there
were horses here long before that, for Queen Bodicea’s
Iceni tribe used the heath to tune up their war chariots
before battles with the Roman invaders who built the road
that runs through the town and into East Anglia. She also
built the famous landmark Devils Dyke which runs between
the Rowley Mile and July courses.
Newmarket’s royal history is apparent at every turn.
Near the end of the High Street the Rutland Arms stands
on the site of King Charles old palace, and just down the
road are his stables, and the house of his mistress Nell
Gwynn. The Rowley Mile Racecourse was named after the King,
whose nickname was that of his favourite horse, Old Rowley.
The first public trainer in Newmarket, Tregonwell Frampton,
had Queen Anne among his owners. The present Queen, who
maintains her family’s tradition of breeding racehorses
at the Royal Stud in Norfolk, is a frequent visitor to the
King Charles used to enjoy watching his horses being exercised
on Warren Hill. Three centuries later champions are still
being trained on the timeless turf, but much else has changed,
and for the better.
Newmarket may be steeped in history, but now it is a centre
of excellence where heritage and technology lie easily together.
Today Newmarket is not just headquarters of racing in Britain,
but arguably in the world, with facilities second to none.
There are 2800 acres of heath and woodland devoted to racing
and training horses, including 40 miles of turf gallops,
17 miles of artificial gallops and 30 miles of traffic-free
The other facilities include 2 public equine swimming pools,
two top class veterinary practices and a state-of-the-art
Europe’s biggest horse auction house, Tattersalls
(founded 1766), is based in Newmarket, bringing a wonderful
cosmopolitan atmosphere to the town in the autumn, when
buyers from all over the world come to bid.
A century ago the auctioneers used to sell horses in the
High Street, outside the Jockey Club Rooms, but now business
is conducted in a handsome domed arena, where bids are translated
into yen, dollars and euros on the flickering number board.
Newmarket is surrounded by Studs, where some of the world’s
best stallions and most desirable broodmares are based.
Many a champion has been born and raised in Newmarket.
Of course Newmarket is famous for its racing. From the
early days when nobility used to match there horses against
each other, the sport has developed into a major industry
and a much loved hobby to others, but fun and enjoyment
At “Headquarters” there are two racetrack,
the Rowley Mile for the autumn and spring sport and the
July course for the summer. There are top-class contests
at both venues: The 1000 and 2000 guineas; The Champions
Stakes; The July Cup; The Middle Park and Cheveley Park
Stakes; The Dewhurst……….
There are now more than 60 training stables in the town
– large and small – housing some of the world’s
best horses. Trainers come to the place because of the facilities,
and owners come because of the results.