Not only is Newmarket known affectionately as ‘Headquarters’ in Great Britain, but it is also regarded as one of the top horse racing venues anywhere in the world.
While only hosting Flat racing and solely on turf, Newmarket in fact has two tracks; the Rowley Mile and the July Course.
Racing takes place on the Rowley Mile during April and May before the July Course takes over for the summer action. Racing returns to the Rowley Mile for the major autumn meetings.
Newmarket is known for hosting two of Britain’s five Classics, the 1000 and 2000 Guineas, as well as several other Group 1 events, major festivals and top juvenile contests.
As well as this, the area houses around 70 of the country’s trainers who all share the Newmarket gallops, with upwards of 3000 horses trained near the course.
- Address – Newmarket Racecourses, Westfield House, The Links, Newmarket, Suffolk, CB8 0TG.
- Owner – The Jockey Club.
- TV Station – Racing TV.
- Type – Flat.
- Surface – Turf.
While generally split into the famous Rowley Mile and July Course, Newmarket’s longer races all start on the same track.
The Cesarewitch course has starts for 2m4f, 2m2f, 2m, 1m6f and 1m4f. After that point, runners take a sharp right onto what is known as the July Course, or a slightly easier right onto the Rowley Mile.
All races on the Rowley Mile over anything up to a mile-and-a-quarter, uniquely, are staged on a straight track.
The Rowley Mile is very wide and galloping in nature. This, allied with the pronounced uphill finish, makes the track ideal for those with a long stride. At least, this is the theory.
Newmarket is undulating and when the runners descend into the famous Dip, plenty of good horses can become unbalanced.
Given the galloping nature of the course, the undulations, the Dip and the uphill finish, it goes without saying really that runners need to be able to see out every yard of the advertised trip. A flashy seven-furlong type will not see out the mile on this track for example.
Although the rails can be moved, the Rowley Mile is almost always wide. Ground isn’t too much of a concern as there is always a very lush covering of grass, meaning even when the going is described as ‘soft’ many can handle it.
Though the clerk of the course can often attempt to alleviate it, there is often a draw bias on the straight track here which hosts races right up to a mile-and-a-quarter.
In a full field and/or when the stalls are on the stands side, those drawn high up the near side are often advantaged. When the stalls are on the far side or the centre however, runners either go down the middle or up against the far side rail which means lower numbers are best.
Rowley Mile Track Analysis
Jockeys generally describe the Rowley Mile as a nice course to ride. What they notice and feed back which the public often don’t see, is that there are a couple of ridges and undulations even before the runners hit the Dip. This means jockeys have to be aware and still on the bit at that point, never going too early.
Newmarket also has plenty of other challenges for riders. Even having got a horse settled on the longest straight in Britain and negotiated the Dip and the ridges, many are still caught out by the run-in.
The uphill finish here is very pronounced, with those going too early always having their lead eroded to a degree, or wiped out completely as their horse ties up.
The wind is known to change regularly here. Jockeys, more than punters in fairness, need to be aware of it. When the wind is behind the field this helps greatly, however when it blows across the track or in the runners’ faces then getting cover is crucial.
A famous example of how the Rowley Mile can change an expected result is the run in the 2021 Royal Lodge of Coroebus. Having gone early, the colt streaked away and looked a certain winner. Tying up badly on the run-in, he was caught and eventually passed by Royal Patronage.
Coroebus was ridden differently next time when winning the Autumn Stakes, and even returned in the spring to take the 2000 Guineas having, according to his trainer, learned to “race the right way round”. Those comments are crucial from Charlie Appleby, as those going too hard too soon here will always fail.
The July Course is well known for sprint races, but is actually more than two miles and one furlong in length.
The right-handed turn, the only one, comes with a mile still to go. Before this point, runners are on what is known as the Cesarwitch Course, also used to form part of the Rowley Mile, while after the turn they are on what is called the Bunbury Mile. Together, the Cesarewitch and the Bunbury Mile make up the July Course.
The topography of Newmarket, which helps in its cause for being called the greatest training centre in the world, means things aren’t straightforward here, much like over on the Rowley Mile.
The track undulates for around six furlongs, then with two to go the runners face more unique challenges. The track goes downhill first, offering a test of balance, before once more showing an uphill gradient which means stamina is well to the fore again.
July Course Track Analysis
Not hugely evident to the naked eye but reported by jockeys, is the fact that despite the finish being known as all uphill, it in fact levels off just before the line.
On a good day given Newmarket’s traditionally quick ground over the clay base, there is no real pace or draw bias along the main stretch of the July Course.
That said, when things are very fast, the far side can often be better with jockeys looking to get onto that ‘golden highway’ to see the better ground.
Visiting Newmarket Racecourse
Coming to Newmarket, there are not only two individual racecourses to visit but other important racing organisations too.
The gallops around the tracks are open to the public most times, with thousands of Britain’s top racing talent being trained there.
As well as this, Tattersalls, the National Stud and the National Horseracing Museum are also situated here.
How to Get to Newmarket Racecourse
The racecourses are just a few miles from the A14 Newmarket Bypass and just around 1½ miles from the town centre.
The nearest major city is Cambridge. Via the A1303, the tracks are just 15 miles and half an hour away.
From Norwich, visitors can take the A11 almost all the way (51 miles), while those from Ipswich are just 41 miles away along the A14.
Once you’re near the racecourses, there are separate signs for the Rowley Mile and the July Course. Each one has its own stands as well as racing surfaces, so parking areas and the like are different.
Most visitors to Newmarket tend to arrive by train. The station is only 1½ miles away, or just ten minutes in a taxi.
Newmarket Station sees arrivals from Cambridge and Ipswich. Cambridge is the main link, with services from Brighton, London Kings Cross, London Liverpool Street, Norwich and Stansted Airport. Those from anywhere around the country can get to Cambridge first via other major routes.
Where to Stay
Newmarket is limited in what it can offer in terms of accommodation, especially for the major events such as the 2000 Guineas weekend. Many people choose to stay in Cambridge instead, with regular trains linking the two towns.
Major Events at Newmarket
Newmarket doesn’t host any long, drawn-out festivals such as Royal Ascot or Glorious Goodwood.
Major meetings tend to be on major single race days or three-day festivals. These are the highlights of the racing season across both Newmarket tracks:
|European Free Handicap||3yo Only, Handicap, Listed Race||7f||Craven Meeting, April||Rowley Mile|
|Earl of Sefton Stakes||4yo+, Group 3||1m1f||Craven Meeting, April||Rowley Mile|
|Nell Gwyn Stakes||3yo Fillies Only, Group 3||7f||Craven Meeting, April||Rowley Mile|
|Abernant Stakes||3yo+, Group 3||6f||Craven Meeting, April||Rowley Mile|
|Craven Stakes||3yo Only, Group 3||1m||Craven Meeting, April||Rowley Mile|
|Feilden Stakes||3yo Only, Listed Race||1m1f||Craven Meeting, April||Rowley Mile|
|Newmarket Stakes||3yo Colts & Geldings Only, Listed Race||1m2f||Guineas Festival, May||Rowley Mile|
|King Charles II Stakes||3yo Only, Listed Race||7f||Guineas Festival, May||Rowley Mile|
|Jockey Club Stakes||4yo+, Group 2||1m4f||Guineas Festival, May||Rowley Mile|
|Palace House Stakes||3yo+, Group 3||5f||Guineas Festival, May||Rowley Mile|
|2000 Guineas||3yo Only, Group 1||1m||Guineas Festival, May||Rowley Mile|
|Pretty Polly Stakes||3yo Fillies, Listed Race||1m2f||Guineas Festival, May||Rowley Mile|
|Dahlia Stakes||4yo+ Fillies & Mares, Group 2||1m1f||Guineas Festival, May||Rowley Mile|
|1000 Guineas||3yo Fillies Only, Group 1||1m||Guineas Festival, May||Rowley Mile|
|Empress Stakes||2yo Fillies Only, Listed Race||6f||Carnival Raceday, June||July Course|
|Fred Archer Stakes||4yo+, Listed Race||1m4f||Carnival Raceday, June||July Course|
|Criterion Stakes||3yo+, Group 3||7f||Carnival Raceday, June||July Course|
|Bahrain Trophy||3yo Only, Group 3||1m5f||July Festival, July||July Course|
|July Stakes||2yo Colts & Geldings, Group 2||6f||July Festival, July||July Course|
|Princess of Wales’s Stakes||3yo+, Group 2||1m4f||July Festival, July||July Course|
|Sir Henry Cecil Stakes||3yo Only, Listed Race||1m||July Festival, July||July Course|
|Duchess of Cambridge Stakes||2yo Fillies Only, Group 2||6f||July Festival, July||July Course|
|Falmouth Stakes||3yo+ Fillies & Mares, Group 1||1m||July Festival, July||July Course|
|Superlative Stakes||2yo Only, Group 2||7f||July Festival, July||July Course|
|Bunbury Cup||3yo+, Heritage Handicap, Class 2||7f||July Festival, July||July Course|
|July Cup||3yo+, Group 1||6f||July Festival, July||July Course|
|Aphrodite Stakes||3yo+, Fillies & Mares, Listed Race||1m4f||Summer Saturday, July||July Course|
|Chalice Stakes||3yo+, Fillies & Mares, Listed Race||1m4f||Summer Saturday II, July||July Course|
|Sweet Solera Stakes||2yo Fillies Only, Group 3||7f||Summer Saturday III, July||July Course|
|Hopeful Stakes||3yo+, Listed Race||6f||Summer Saturday IV, August||July Course|
|Tattersalls Stakes||2yo Colts & Geldings, Group 3||7f||Cambridgeshire Meeting||Rowley Mile|
|Rose Bowl Stakes||3yo+, Listed Race||2m||Cambridgeshire Meeting||Rowley Mile|
|Rosemary Stakes||3yo+ Fillies & Mares, Listed Race||1m||Cambridgeshire Meeting||Rowley Mile|
|Princess Royal Stakes||3yo+ Fillies & Mares, Group 3||1m4f||Cambridgeshire Meeting||Rowley Mile|
|Rockfel Stakes||2yo Fillies Only, Group 2||7f||Cambridgeshire Meeting||Rowley Mile|
|Joel Stakes||3yo+, Group 2||1m||Cambridgeshire Meeting||Rowley Mile|
|Godolphin Stakes||3yo+, Listed Race||1m4f||Cambridgeshire Meeting||Rowley Mile|
|Royal Lodge Stakes||2yo Colts & Geldings, Group 2||1m||Cambridgeshire Meeting||Rowley Mile|
|Cheveley Park Stakes||2yo Fillies Only, Group 1||6f||Cambridgeshire Meeting||Rowley Mile|
|Middle Park Stakes||2yo Colts Only, Group 1||6f||Cambridgeshire Meeting||Rowley Mile|
While not all of these races are at the very highest level, so many carry great importance.
The European Free Handicap and Craven Stakes are major trials for the 2000 Guineas, while the Nell Gwyn is the key prep for the 1000 Guineas.
The Newmarket Stakes can be used as a Derby trial, while the Pretty Polly is often taken in en route to the Oaks.
Other races such as the Suffolk Handicap (Guineas meeting), bet365 Trophy (July Festival) and the Old Rowley Cup (Future Champions Festival) are also major betting handicaps.
About Newmarket Racecourse
Newmarket truly is the home of horse racing. The sport was first recorded in the area during the time of James I, with the racecourse having known to have been in existence since 1636. Things started for formalise around 1665 when Charles II established the Newmarket Town Plate.
Racing grew in the area with the King’s Plate and the Town plate being the two most important events. Racing took place twice annually, in April and October, though another spring meeting was introduced in 1753 and an extra October meeting in 1762.
The Craven was introduced in 1771 and by 1840, it was one of seven meetings held every year.
The now-famous 2000 Guineas was first staged on April 18th, 1809. The race was named after its prize, 2000 guineas indeed being a king’s ransom.
Five years later the 1000 Guineas was added to the schedule for three-year-old fillies, with the Jockey Club inaugurating the races under Sir Charles Bunbury’s direction.
Bunbury of course had a hand in establishing the Derby at Epsom and, by the 1860’s, the Guineas had become to be known as one of the most important races on the calendar alongside the Derby and the Oaks at Epsom.
The St Leger was already in existence by this point, with the group of races together now becoming known as the ‘Classics’.
Since those days, the Classics have been replicated right around the world. Many ‘Derby’ races are run in Australia, USA, Ireland, France, Germany and beyond, while equivalents of the Oaks, 2000 Guineas and 1000 Guineas are also staged the world over.