Newmarket Racecourse – A Brief History

Newmarket racecourse is the home of the British Jockey Club, remains the headquarters of many national and international racing organisations. The town thrived because of its marketplace and a profitable trade in accommodating travellers and so it continued for centuries, until King James I “discovered” its Heath in Feb 1604 as a fantastic leisure venue for his court and Newmarket’s sporting associations began.

The town is well served for uncomplicated transport links to the rest of East Anglia: the A14 takes you in about 20 minutes to Cambridge in the west, where you can benefit from the delights of the ancient University Town. Newmarket racecourse is rooted in Suffolk history and is alive and kicking turf today as one of the most exciting racetracks in the UK. Early in the morning it is a surreal place, buzzing with the activities of hundreds of horses, nonchalant but serious, as though unaware of the peril and absurdity of answering rich men’s whims by educating racehorses to run faster.

Charles II’s involvement from the mid 17th century secured Newmarket’s future at the heart of British racing. The local history is inextricably tied up with the history of horseracing. The historic centre of British racing is today home to the world famous Newmarket racecourse, both the Rowley mile, July course, and gallops, the National Stud and the National Horse Racing Museum.


Racing at Newmarket racecourse is on the up and up, boasting world class racing and amenities and the stunningly picturesque July Course offering its own exclusive brand of entertainment over the summer months.

Bronze Age barrows, showing evidence of early occupation, were scattered across the Heath until the 19th century when they were cleared to make better conditions for horse racing. The Rowley Mile hosts racing of the highest talent during the Spring and Autumn, including two of Britain’s five Classic races in early May: the 1000 and 2000 Guineas.


Of course, no stopover is complete without visiting sites associated with its rich sporting tradition as the historic home of horse racing. You can visit the world prominent National Stud, where many of the great racehorses of all time first set eyes on the Earth, take in a tour of the National Horse Racing Museum, a fantastic place, and even arrange a tour of the town’s training facilities and gallops, although it is best to view this at 6am! The town has an exclusive environment consisting of the world’s most extensive training grounds (situated on the world’s largest expanse of tended grassland), over 2500 racehorses, some 70+ licensed trainers and more than 60 stud farms where the racehorses of the future are bred.


The Rowley Mile racecourse sports a brand new grandstand which is a great feature of this wonderful course. The distinctive thing about the Rowley mile is that it is mainly a straight track and has a large dip about two and a half furlongs out which can catch out three year olds, as you need to have a very well balanced horse to keep up an even pace going into the dip and then have the stamina to come back up the dip to finish out the race. In the autumn the Rowley Course stages two further excellent meetings in the Cambridgeshire and Champions’ Day race days. In 2007 the July course opened with its refurbished stands.

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