History of Racing in Newmarket

Country Fair Raceday

Newmarket is home to a world-famous Thoroughbred horse racing venue. There are two individual racecourses -the July Course and the Rowley Mile.

As well as being the home of British horseracing Newmarket also boasts the largest number of training yards in the country. It is also home to many key horse racing institutions – namely Tattersalls (the main auctioneer of race horses in the U.K. and Ireland), the National Stud and the National Horseracing Museum.

There are five Classic Races in the U.K. and Newmarket is home to two of them – the 1,000 Guineas and 2,000 Guineas. In total, it is home to 9 of British racing’s 36 annual Group 1 races.

Racing in Newmarket was known in the time of James I and the racecourse itself was founded in 1636.  Around 1665, Charles II inaugurated the Newmarket Town Plate. In 1671 he became the first and only reigning monarch to ride a winner. King Charles was known to attend races on Newmarket Heath with his brother, the future James II. The first recorded race was a match for £100 between horses owned by Lord Salisbury and Marquess of Buckingham in 1622.

Up until 1744, the two most valuable races run at the course were the King’s Plate and the Town Plate. Two more Plate races were added in that year, paid for by local traders, both worth 50 guineas: a race for five-year-olds carrying 9 stone and an open age race in four mile heats. Another race, which was paid for by landowners, was a race for 4 year olds over four miles.

At that time, formal races at Newmarket only took place twice a year – in April and October. A second Spring meeting was added in 1753, a second October meeting in 1762, the July meeting in 1765, the Houghton meeting in 1770 and the Craven in 1771.

By 1840, there were seven annual meetings:

The Craven Meeting (inaugurated 1771).
1st Spring Meeting (inaugurated pre-1744)
2nd Spring Meeting (inaugurated 1753)
July Meeting  (inaugurated 1765)
1st October Meeting  (inaugurated pre-1744)
2nd October Meeting (inaugurated 1762)
Houghton Meeting (inaugurated in 1770)

More Newmarket History.

Newmarket News promotes responsible gambling.