The flat racing season begins at the end of April, so Robert Leader takes a look at Newmarket, the racing capital of England.
Newmarket lives, breathes, works and thrives around the flamboyant world of horse-racing. Its heroes are its jockeys riding high and proud in their colourful racing silks, and its lifeblood flows in the veins of its prancing thoroughbreds.
So it is no surprise that Newmarket has always been just a little bit horse crazy, ever since Queen Boudicca set up a stud at nearby Exning way back in the Roman Age. No doubt the wide open spaces of heathland were as perfect for racing chariots then, as they are for exercising the thousands of thoroughbreds that gallop here today.
As you enter Newmarket from the west there is a superb black bronze statue of a rearing stallion in the centre of the large roundabout on the A1304. It is a life-size equestrian poem in motion, and on a fine sunny day with a little heat haze you can almost see the sleek flank muscles ripple and the flared nostrils snorting. It is a fitting landmark for a town that is famous as the headquarters of British racing.
Try to drive through Newmarket at the crack of dawn and you will find the traffic backed up to let strings of fifty or more racehorses cross the road in long processions from more than fifty stables to the gallops. There are over 2500 horses in training here, and on any morning, wet or fine, you can see most of them walking, trotting, or flying at full gallop between the twenty miles or more of white fencing that marks out the walkways and the courses.Buy Now