A few weeks ago I was fortunate to be invited to Newmarket (the birthplace and spiritual home of British horseracing) by a fellow Bet Angel forum member who is an ex-jockey that rode for Sir Mark Prescott for many years.
Newmarket itself is steeped in history and is built around horse racing with approx. 3000 horses stabled across 2500 acres. It is home to most of the UK’s top trainers. The best way to describe it would be to say it’s the Hollywood of horse racing, with many of the stables and studs situated along the same few roads and next door to each other. Bury Road alone is home to the Luca Cumani, Michael Stoute and Clive Britton stables to name but a few, with other stables like Warren Place formerly owned by Sir Henry Cecil now owned by Godolphin and ‘Heath House’ which belonging to Sir Mark Prescott are all within a stone’s throw of each other.
Behind the Scenes
My day begun with a tour of the famous Newmarket Heath which is the galloping ground for race horses and there was a number of trainers and their horses already doing their daily routines when we arrived, I was then shown a number of other interesting places around Newmarket all connected to horse racing in some way including places like the new All-Weather training track ‘AL BAHATHRI GALLOP’ recently built by the older brother of Sheikh Mohammed.
After this, I was then introduced to Sir Mark Prescott at his stables ‘Heath House’ as he was doing one of his training sessions with a string of his horses. We joined as they were cantering round his ‘Indoor ride’ and had plenty of time to chat as he began putting the horses and riders through the days routine.
I then accompanied him out onto the gallops as the training session continued before ending the session on ‘Warren Hill Spinney’ this is where the horses picked at the grass. I was told this is something he always does after they have been worked because it helps them to relax and keeps them happy before returning back to the stables.
While chatting with Sir Mark I quickly began to understand the level (if not the detail) involved in maintaining the health and happiness of these magnificent animals while getting them ready and race fit. He was pointing things out during training that I still could not see, yet to him it was telling him so much about how that horse was feeling, what it wanted and what he needed to then do.
Very similar to trading the markets, when an experienced trader can interpret what their seeing often quite quickly and easily whereas for those who are new to trading every market will look and seem to behave exactly the same, even as someone points out some signs as to what to look for and do next actually still seeing this takes time and recognising these for yourself takes even longer.
During the afternoon we visited Newmarket races (July Course) where I was given pretty much access all area’s so rather than spend too much time in the stands or usual parade ring instead took advantage of this and went around other area’s like the weigh-in rooms before accompanying the starter down to the start for one of the races. Chatting with him was also quite interesting as I’m sure most people like me can sometimes get annoyed with what looks like a lackadaisical approach to getting races away on time. But I learnt that among starters there is actually a lot of pride and competitiveness in wanting to get their races off as close to post as possible. I even learned there was a database which all starters update after each race on how a horse behaves at the start which then determines which order they go in the stalls at future races, it has nothing to do with who wants to go in first or even what a jockey wants.
I thoroughly enjoyed the whole day from start to finish and very grateful for being given the experience. I’ve spent years associating race horses as nothing but numbers changing on a screen. So it was great to finally see and get an understanding of how the industry works and get a true idea of all the hard work that gets put in on a daily basis into maintaining these animals.
Newmarket Open Weekend
During September there just happens to be the perfect opportunity for anyone also wanting to get a look behind the scenes and see the home of British horseracing as Newmarket hosts its annual open weekend where the public can get up close and see how the racing industry works for themselves, this includes access to the training gallops, jockey club, racing school, Tattersalls etc, and on Sunday a number of stables and trainers will also open their yards for the public to have a good look around and see what they do with staff on hand to answer questions, even the equine hospital is opening its doors.
It will make a great family day out with lots of the usual family stuff also happening so well worth checking even if not this year then maybe next year. Click below for details: –