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Put your money on Newmarket

Newmarket lives and breathes horses. Home to The National Stud and the National Heritage Centre for Horseracing and Sporting Art, among other attractions, the town is an ideal destination for both horse-lovers and for those who can appreciate the arduous process of breeding, training, and racing a thoroughbred. 

A variety of full and half day tours are held throughout the year, allowing visitors to follow a racehorse’s journey from the breeding process, to training, right through to life after racing.

We experience this first-hand on a press day organised by Discover Newmarket.

Behind-the-scenes

The day began at The National Stud, the only commercial stud farm in the UK that allows a behind-the-scenes look of a working thoroughbred stud farm.

The National Stud is the only commercial stud farm open to the public in UK

We board a minibus and the driver/guide takes us around the farm while recounting interesting facts about the stud farm and its history.

The minibus stops a couple of times en route to allow for photographs, get closer at the horses, and get a full insight into the workings of a thoroughbred farm.

We stop at the covering shed and the guide tells us about the process of matching a stallion and a mare and how they are brought together to mate.

It is fascinating going back to the start and learning about the planned matings and the commercial thoroughbred breeding operation.

As The National Stud is a working farm, the content of the tours varies throughout the year, as do the activities happening on the stud when you visit.

Group ticket prices for stand-alone tours of The National Stud start from £10pp, with catering options available at the on-site Wavertree’s Coffee Shop.

Visit the trainers

The minibus then takes us to trainer Ed Dunlop’s La Grange Stables. There are numerous trainer yards in Newmarket and they take it in turns to host a tour to give groups an insight into the running of a working racing yard.

The trainer, or their representative, shows groups around; introduces them to the horses; outlines the yard routines and feeding regimes; and answers any questions they might have.

It is a great opportunity to get up close to the horses and find out how they are cared for and trained.

Art through the ages

Next it was onto the National Heritage Centre for Horseracing and Sporting Art.

Situated in the heart of Newmarket, the centre was officially opened by Her Majesty The Queen on 3 November 2016, making it Newmarket’s newest attraction.

Enjoy British sporting art through the years at The Fred Packard Museum

It offers three attractions in one with groups being able to access the National Horseracing Museum, The Fred Packard Museum and Galleries of British Sporting Art, and The Rothschild Yard.

The Galleries of British Sporting Art are located in the remaining element of Charles II’s racing palace. Groups will have the chance to view an array of traditional and contemporary artwork showcasing British sporting art from around the UK, which includes other sports as well as horseracing. 

Loans have come from the Tate and Victoria and Albert Museum, along with a number of private and public art collections, creating a diverse collection with something for everyone to enjoy.

The galleries are on several floors, but there is a lift that provides access to all of them.

The world of horseracing

The National Horseracing Museum brings the science of thoroughbred and the history of horseracing to life.

Guided tours can be arranged for groups, but tours tend to be self-guided.

The museum has five galleries providing different insights into the world of horseracing, such as the origins of horseracing; the emergence of it as a national sport; and Newmarket’s place in its development.

Royal connections to racing are also highlighted, including the showing of the famous moment the Queen’s horse won the Gold Cup at the 2013 Royal Ascot –making her the first reigning monarch to win.

Offering a different angle, the museum’s interactive and audio-visual displays provide an in-depth look at the anatomy of a racehorse, exploring the ultimate family tree and genetic code of the thoroughbred pedigree.

Groups will even get to meet virtual notable figures in the horseracing world, including Frankie Dettori, Clare Balding, and Dame Judi Dench, who retell their most memorable horseracing moments.

Moving outside, groups will find eight stable galleries, each revealing a different area relating to the working-life of horseracing, such as administration, security, veterinary medicine, and the training of its human and equine participants.

There is even an opportunity for vistiors to ride a racehorse simulator, with a member of staff on-hand to show you how it’s done.

Life after racing

The Rothschild Yard offers yet another angle into the world of horseracing.

Newmarket tours allows groups to see the equine stars at work

Four galleries in the yard explain the work of the Retraining of Racehorses charity and groups will be able to meet former racehorses.

The yard shows how thoroughbreds can be effectively retrained for a satisfying and successful life beyond horseracing.

Demonstrations, held at least twice a day, illustrate the difference between training a horse for the racetrack and training it for a second career in such this as eventing, polo or for simply riding.

Pre-booking is required for group bookings to the centre, and groups of 15+ can enjoy reduced admission prices on day visits.

After hours opening times of 1700hrs-2000hrs are available to groups. The late opening hours began in April and are available every Wednesday until 27 September.

Additional tours

Other Newmarket tour options include visits to:

The Jockey Club Rooms: Learn about the history of The Jockey Club and horseracing through the team of Rooms Steward. Groups will be able to enjoy a guided viewing of the collection of sporting art and memorabilia. Champagne afternoon teas are also available.

Champagne afternoon teas are available at The Jockey Club Rooms

Tattersalls: Groups get a behind-the-scenes look at the oldest bloodstock auctioneers in the world and the largest in Europe. Learn what bloodstock agents and buyers are looking for when picking a horse to bid on, and sit in the famous Tattersalls ring.

Dalham Hall Stud: Owned by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Ruler of Dubai, groups will get the chance to visit this prestigious stud to view the facilities and champion stallions including Dubawi and New Approach.

Elsewhere in Newmarket

Besides learning about horseracing, the market town itself has many listed buildings, independent and high street shops, varied recreational facilities and a variety of hotels, restaurants and cafes for groups to enjoy.

It is recommended that visitors arrive before noon to witness the early morning strings of thoroughbreds as they wind their way from stables to training gallops and home again using the specially built horsewalks through the town.

Newmarket gives easy access to the many villages and countryside, which surround the town. There are a number of historic sites such as the Icknield Way and the Devil's Dyke, which link Newmarket to its Anglo Saxon history. The Dyke is an ancient monument, and is the largest defensive earthwork in the country.

There are also a number of towns and cities nearby that offer the perfect accompaniment to a trip to Newmarket.

Ely

Just 14 miles away is the city of Ely that has a number of group-friendly attractions.

The Cathedral is Ely’s top tourist attraction. Groups can enjoy the 12th century building in their own time, or take a guided tour. Tours also include visits to the Octagon and/or Lantern Towers, where the spectacular view makes it well worth the climb. There is a group admission rate for 15 people or more.

Ely Cathedral is home to the Stained Glass Museum, and a combined group ticket for both the Cathedral and the museum is an option.

The Stained Glass Museum in Ely offers a unique group experience

The only one of its kind in the UK, the Stained Glass Museum offers a unique insight into the history of stained glass, displaying over 125 stained glass panels.

At Oliver Cromwell's House, groups can experience what domestic life would have been like in the 17th Century in a variety of recreated period rooms. Tours with costumed guides are available.

Ely has a variety of eateries whether your group chooses to eat together or individually. There are also many gift shops, craft shops, antique shops, art galleries and a market to peruse.

A wide range of guided walks on offer, such as the Eel Trail – a marked route, which will ensure your groups see the best of Ely and learn about the importance of eels to Ely along the way.

There is a designated coach bay located in front of the Cathedral to drop-off and pick-up passengers. Coach drivers can then park at Lancaster Way Business Park, Witchford, which is about 10 minutes from Ely.

Bury St Edmunds

With a variety of shops, an award-winning market, plus variety of attractions and places to stay, groups love a visit to Bury St Edmunds.

The market town has a rich heritage, and the combination of medieval architecture, elegant Georgian squares and the wonderful Cathedral and Abbey gardens provide a distinctive visual charm.

A guided walking tour will be the perfect way for groups to learn all about the town.

A variety of tours covering specific themes are available, such as Crime and Punishment, Ladies of the Town, Tudor Times, and Pubs, Inn and Alehouse. Standard daily tours are also offered.

Norwich

A little further afield is the city of Norwich. The city centre is easy to walk around and, with its arts, music and shopping scene, together with its Norman castle and cathedral, it’s a wonderful fusion of the modern and historic.

Both the castle and the cathedral are group-friendly and offer an insight into the history of the buildings, as well as the city itself.

Tours and catering options are available at both, along with group admission rates.

For groups looking for some retail therapy, Norwich Market is open six days a week, and the city also has two shopping centres, four department stores, and many independent stores and boutiques in the Lanes and Timber Hill.

Alternatively, groups can to see all that Norwich has to offer on a tour. There’s a choice of guided tours - on foot, by boat or by bus - each revealing the history of the city.

City guides can take your groups on a walking tour, while City Sightseeing bus tours is another option. The bus tours include an on-board commentary and tickets are valid for 24 hours.

With a daily timetable from April-November, groups can enjoy a river tour of the Norfolk Broads on-board a Broad Tours’ boat. All trips include a live commentary, with light refreshments and a licensed bar available.