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What is Newmarket Racecourse?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 11 November 2016
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Newmarket Racecourse is a famous racing complex in Suffolk, England. There are actually two separate tracks at Newmarket, along with a wide range of training facilities and racing organizations. Many people call Newmarket the “home of racing,” since horses have been raced there since the 17th century, and Newmarket is home to some of the most famous racing meets in Britain. There are three racing seasons at Newmarket Racecourse, allowing visitors to see a variety of races on the flat, and numerous tours, festivals, and other events are held during the racing season for people who want to soak up the culture of Newmarket Racecourse.

The town of Newmarket has been involved in the raising and racing of horses for centuries. In 1664, the first horse race was held at Newmarket, the Town Plate, by order of Charles II. Since then, Newmarket has been considered a major site for British racing, along with places like Epsom Downs and the Ascot Racecourse. In addition to serving as a site for races, horses are also bred and trained in the vast facilities at and around Newmarket.

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The two tracks at Newmarket are the Rowley Mile, named for a favorite horse of Charles II, and the July Course. The July Course is used for the Summer racing season, while the Rowley Mile is employed in the Spring and Fall. Both tracks are turfed, which may seem unusual to American racing fans, who usually see races run on dirt tracks. In addition, the tracks are not truly flat; the Rowley Mile, for example, has an uphill portion, along with some undulating sections collectively called “The Dip.”

In addition to hosting a large number of prestigious races every year including two of the British Classic Races, the Princess of Wales's Stakes, and the Jockey Gold Club, Newmarket also hosts smaller and less prestigious meets. Horses of all calibers have run on the track, from champions developed through generations of intensive breeding to lesser known horses who never quite make it into major racing.

Newmarket's facilities and racing industry are supported by a huge support staff. According to statistics kept by the Newmarket Racecourses organization, 2,500 racehorses are kept in training at Newmarket by 77 trainers, and the region supports 65 stud farms. Newmarket is also home to many major British racing organizations, including Tattersalls, which handles huge numbers of racehorse sales annually, and some of the best equine veterinary facilities in Britain, and perhaps the world.

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