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Newmarket Racecourse, which has a capacity of 45,000, is a British Thoroughbred horse racing venue in the town of Newmarket, Suffolk. Newmarket is often referred to as the headquarters of British horseracing and is home to the largest cluster of training yards in the country and many key horse racing organisations, including Tattersalls, the National Horseracing Museum and the National Stud. The racecourse hosts two of the country's five Classic Races - the 1,000 Guineas and 2,000 Guineas, and numerous other Group races. In total, it hosts 9 of British racing's 32 annual Group 1 races.
Racing in Newmarket was recorded in the time of James I. Charles II was known to attend races on Newmarket Heath with his brother, the future James II. 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 - one was a race for five-year-olds carrying 9 stone, one was an open age race in four mile heats. Another paid for by landowners was a four-year-old race over four miles, each carrying 8 stone 7 lbs. At that time, formal races at Newmarket only took place twice a year - once in April, once in October. A second Spring meeting was added in 1753.
- The Craven Meeting - a week, beginning Easter Monday (inaugurated 1771)
- 1st Spring Meeting - a week, beginning Easter Monday fortnight (inaugurated pre-1744)
- 2nd Spring Meeting - a week, beginning Easter Monday month (inaugurated 1753)
- July Meeting - a few days, around 10 July (inaugurated 1765)
- 1st October Meeting - a week, beginning Monday before the first Thursday in October (inaugurated pre-1744)
- 2nd October Meeting - a week, beginning Monday before the third Thursday in October (inaugurated 1762)
- Houghton Meeting - a few days, beginning two weeks later (inaugurated in 1770)
Newmarket, in fact, has two courses - the Rowley Mile Course and the July Course. Both are wide, galloping tracks used for Flat racing only.
- The Rowley Mile Course has a 1 mile 2 furlong (2 km) straight with minor undulations towards 'The Bushes', two furlongs (400 m) out. The penultimate furlong (200 m) is downhill and the last is uphill, forming 'The Dip'. Races beyond the distance of 1m 2f start on the 'Cesarewitch' or 'Beacon' course which turns right-handed into the straight.
- The July Course, also sometimes called the Summer Course, has a 1 mile (1600 m) straight, known as 'The Bunbury Mile'. After 2 furlongs (400 m), there is a long downhill stretch before the uphill furlong (200 m) to the finish. This course also uses the 'Cesarewitch/Beacon' course for longer distances, again turning right into the straight.
Technically, there is also a third course, the Round Course, but this is only used once a year for the Newmarket Town Plate, a race of great historical significance, but limited importance in modern day racing.
The Rowley Mile is used for racing in the Spring and Autumn, while the July Course is used in Summer. The Rowley Mile has a grass strip used by light aircraft, and formerly by the Royal Air Force (RAF) as RAF Newmarket.
The Devil's Dyke runs past the edge of the July course. About half of the racecourse complex, including the July and Cesarewitch/Beacon courses, is actually in the neighbouring county of Cambridgeshire.
Historically, there are various names that have been given to courses or parts of courses at Newmarket, and some are still in use today to describe particular race distances. Whyte's History of the British Turf (1840), for instance, lists the Beacon Course, Round Course, Audley End Course, Clermont Course, Ancaster Mile, Rowley Mile, Abingdon Mile, Banbury Mile, Ditch Mile and Yearling Course.
The King's Plate (or Queen's Plate) was a major race run between 1634 and 1765. Current races include:
- Rowley Mile Course
- Other Group 1 races
- Cheveley Park Stakes - Group 1
- Dewhurst Stakes - Group 1
- Fillies' Mile - Group 1
- Middle Park Stakes - Group 1
- Sun Chariot Stakes - Group 1
- Other Group races
- Abernant Stakes
- Challenge Stakes
- Craven Stakes
- Dahlia Stakes
- Darley Stakes
- Earl of Sefton Stakes
- Fairway Stakes
- Feilden Stakes
- Jockey Club Stakes
- Joel Stakes
- Nell Gwyn Stakes
- Newmarket Stakes
- Oh So Sharp Stakes
- Palace House Stakes
- Pretty Polly Stakes
- Rockfel Stakes
- Royal Lodge Stakes
- Somerville Tattersall Stakes
- Zetland Stakes
- July Course
- Group 1 Races
- Other Group races
( Location of Carpark )
( Rowley Mile )
( July Course )
- Whyte, James Christie (1840). History of the British turf, from the earliest period to the present day, Volume I. London: H. Colburn. Retrieved 1 May 2013.
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