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Wednesday, April 4, 2007



FIVE ADDED TO THE VODAFONE DERBY




A total of five horses have been added to the Vodafone Derby at the second entry stage, details of which are revealed today, Wednesday, April 4.


The second entry stage enables horses that were not entered at the yearling stage to be added to the Vodafone Derby at a cost of £8,000.

Two of the second entries hail from the Maktoum family’s Godolphin operation. Dijeer won two of his four starts last season when in the care of Michael Jarvis including the Group Three Horris Hill Stakes at Newbury while Mythical Kid, trained by Sir Michael Stoute in 2006, went down by a short head to Dijeer in the Horris Hill Stakes. The extra two entries mean that the Saeed bin Suroor-trained contingent for the Vodafone Derby now stands at 15.


Barry Hills is still seeking his first Vodafone Derby success having trained four runners up in Rheingold (1972), Hawaiian Sound (1978), Glacial Storm (1988) and Blue Stag (1990). The Lambourn handler has added the Gainsborough-owned Dubai Twilight to his contingent this year, giving him four entries in total. Dubai Twilight has made three appearances to date, most recently when landing a maiden in good style at Lingfield Park on April 1.


Irish handler Eoin Griffin has entered Finicius, who won a 20-runner maiden at the Curragh in July, 2006, before finishing fifth in the Group Three Anglesey Stakes at the same course.


Finally, local trainer Terry Mills has entered Kid Mambo. The Lemon Drop Kid colt showed good form in 2006, winning a mile maiden at Sandown Park and finishing second in the Group Three Autumn Stakes over the same distance at Ascot. Mills now has three contenders going forward for the £1.25 million contest.


Stephen Wallis, Managing Director at Epsom Downs, commented: “It is always exciting to see further Vodafone Derby contenders emerging at the second entry stage and taking up the sporting challenge.


“Whilst not wanting to appear biased, it is wonderful to see the locally-trained Kid Mambo added to the field and hopefully he will be able to fly the Epsom flag at Epsom Downs on the first Saturday in June.”



SIMON HEADS SPEARING AINTREE ASSAULT




John Spearing is pleased with the progress of stable star Simon ahead of a tilt at the £700,000 Grade Three John Smith’s Grand National at Aintree on Saturday, April 14.


The eight-year-old home-bred, owned by former leading trainer Mercy Rimell, wife of the late Fred Rimell who trained four Grand National winners in ESB (1956), Nicolaus Silver (1961), Gay Trip (1970) and Rag Trade (1976), advertised his John Smith’s Grand National credentials with emphatic victories in the Sky Bet Chase at Southwell in January and the Grade Three Racing Post Trophy at Kempton the following month.


Spearing revealed this morning: “It’s all systems go with Simon for the John Smith’s Grand National. He’s fit and well and his work has been pleasing me.


“He wouldn’t have a problem with good ground. He’s only been running on soft ground because that’s all we’ve had.”

Simon’s Kempton triumph came after the John Smith’s Grand National weights were framed and Spearing hopes that the handicapper has his numbers right, with the gelding due to run off a mark nine pounds lower than his official rating.


The trainer commented: “It’s hard to say if he has more improvement in him but he’s running off his old rating, so if the handicapper is right then there should be. With a bit of luck he could progress a bit more.”

Spearing, who is based at the historic Kinnersley stables where the Rimells trained, is also hoping to saddle Aintree veteran Hakim in the four and a half mile spectacular.


The 13-year-old has a tremendous record in three starts round the famous course. He won the totepool Grand Sefton Chase in 2005 and finished runner-up to Liberthine in last season’s John Smith’s Topham Chase before uncharacteristically falling in the totesport.com Becher Chase in November.


Spearing revealed: “I think Hakim is more likely to go in the John Smith’s Grand National than the John Smith’s Topham Chase.

“He’ll run in one or the other - whichever one he can get into. The owner wants to go for the Grand National but if it looks doubtful we’ll hopefully try to get in the Topham.


“He’s fine and he’s a better horse at Aintree than anywhere else so we’ll keep our fingers crossed.”

Spearing is also hoping that Jack’s Craic can return to the form that saw him win the Grade Three Red Rum Handicap Chase at the 2006 John Smith’s Grand National meeting.


He said: “Jack’s Craic seems well at present so he will probably go to Aintree. He was disappointing at Cheltenham but he ran well the time before so it’s difficult to weigh him up really.


“It was a good day when he won there last year and it would be nice to repeat that.”

The £700,000 John Smith’s Grand National, won last year by the Martin Brassil-trained Numbersixvalverde, is one of the highlights of the sporting year and sees a maximum of 40 horses and riders compete over four and a half miles, jumping 30 fences, in a thrilling display that is watched by an estimated 600 million people worldwide

The world’s most famous steeplechase is the highlight of the fantastic three-day John Smith’s Grand National meeting (Thursday, April 12 - Saturday, April 14).


Numbersixvalverde will this year attempt to become the first horse since the great Red Rum in 1973 and 1974 to win back-to-back renewals of the John Smith’s Grand National.


Red Rum was also the last horse to reclaim the prize, which he did in 1977 having finished runner-up in 1975 and 1976, and the Willie Mullins-trained Hedgehunter, successful in 2005 and runner-up 12 months ago, will bid to emulate that feat.




NEVER BEFORE HAS THERE BEEN SO MUCH TO LOOK FORWARD TO AT NEWMARKET




Newmarket Racecourses’ Managing Director, Lisa Hancock, delivered her most upbeat message ever today (Wednesday, April 4), ahead of the start of Newmarket’s new season on Wednesday, April 18:

“Never before has so much been happening at Newmarket Racecourses. Never before has there been so much to look forward to. Never before has there been such a buzz of anticipation here. For the first time I can look forward to the season ahead with unfettered optimism for the future.


“We’ve got our best ever fixture list, enhanced by two new weekend fixtures in May and September. We’ve got our best ever race programme, which contains more pattern and listed races than any other British racecourse, and has been enhanced by more prize money, increased sponsorship and new initiatives like the Unicorn Asset Management July Course Series, plus the Tattersalls Millions to come in 2008.

“We are going to have a transformed July Course following a £10m redevelopment behind the stands, the strongest ever “Newmarket Nights” line-up of bands, the biggest ever Ritz Club July Festival which will spread into the town itself for the first time with the launch of the Newmarket Festival. We’ve got Lester Piggott Day, Frankie’s restaurant on Stan James Guineas Sunday and the Home of Horseracing Tours to places like Cheveley Park Stud.

“Continuous innovation is at the heart of our brand and this year you will see that in many different guises. If you can name another racecourse with so much happening and so much diversity to offer, then I’d be very interested to hear it. I would just like to say a huge thank you to all my team – everyone is working flat out, but I think we can all feel that something big is happening at Newmarket.

“What I hope that all this demonstrates is just how far Newmarket has moved forward in the 21st century. As the Headquarters of Racing, owned by the Jockey Club and frequented more than any course by racing’s “establishment”, it has been very hard for us to break free from the perception that we are conservative, traditional, rather stuffy and staid, and perhaps rather unwelcoming to the wider public. Some of those things may well have been true in the past, but that is most certainly not the case now and I do not believe that we could have been doing more over the last few years to dispel these misconceptions.


“Our overriding message is that everyone is welcome to come and enjoy the most authentic racing experience in the world here at the Home of Horseracing, and, with all that this utterly unique, historic racing town has to offer, it is a place where anyone with even just a passing interest in the “sport of kings” should come at least once in their lifetime.”




NEWS ROUND-UP FROM NEWMARKET

2007 SEASON

Ø Prize money for the year will be a record £7.4m, up from £7.27m last year despite a downturn in Levy Board prize money funding of £185,000.


Ø Newmarket will be launching their brand new website on Friday, April 13, at www.newmarketracecourses.co.uk As well as presenting all the standard information in an easy-to-navigate format, the new site will carry latest news on the key contenders ahead of the major race meetings, including podcasts of trainer interviews. There will be a Newmarket history archive which will be built up over time, videos of great Newmarket races and a wealth of other information.


Ø Newmarket is aiming to take 40% of all advance bookings online this year. There is a 20% online booking discount for all race meetings except the Newmarket Nights.



CRAVEN MEETING, Wednesday, April 18 – Thursday, April 19

Ø The Craven Meeting has been trimmed to two days (from three). The best 14 races from old three-day format have been retained to provide two top class racedays (for full race programme, see Appendix).



STAN JAMES GUINEAS FESTIVAL, Saturday, May 5 – Sunday, May 6

Ø The race programme has been modified to create the best ever Sunday card – the Stan James Palace House Stakes has been switched with the StanJamesUK.com Dahlia Stakes to provide a top class sprint on the Sunday; the mile and a quarter conditions race for four-year-olds and up has been axed and replaced with the £50,000 StanJamesUK.com Suffolk Stakes (Heritage Handicap), the spring version of the totesport Cambridgeshire, which was created two years ago and was previously run on the Saturday after the Guineas (for full race programme, see Appendix).


Ø The Stan James 2000 and 1000 Guineas both increase in value by £20,000 to £350,000 prize funds. Newmarket’s Director of Racing, Michael Prosser, said: “In our opinion the pivotal importance of the Stan James 2000 and 1000 Guineas within the racing calendar cannot be under-estimated and we will continue to ensure that their value reflects this.”

Ø Pre-racing “Home of Horseracing” tours will take place for a maximum of 50 people (tickets cost £10) to Cheveley Park Stud on Saturday and Clive Brittain’s stables on Sunday.



Ø “Frankie’s” Italian Bar & Grill, which is coming to the NatWest Rowley Mile on the Sunday of the Stan James Guineas Festival, has sold out for both sittings (240 covers in all). However, a fantastic Sunday lunch offer is still available in the exclusive Rous Enclosure where a two course Sunday roast with a seat at a table for the day costs just £52.50 when booked in advance - this includes a Premier Enclosure badge (£36) and a racecard (£3), so the lunch and seat for the day effectively cost just £13.50 (£8 for children and their admission to the racecourse is free).

“I don’t think that anyone could disagree that this represents sensational value for any restaurant anywhere, let alone one that provides a great view of a world class Classic raceday at the Home of Horseracing”, said Lisa Hancock, Newmarket Racecourses’ Managing Director.



MAY FIXTURES

Ø The day that has been trimmed from the Craven Meeting has been switched to May where it has been linked up with the stand-alone Saturday which last year took place the weekend after the Stan James Guineas Festival. As a result a brand new Friday-Saturday meeting on May 18/19 been created. The Saturday will be Lester Piggott Day this year, 50 years on from his first Guineas victory on Crepello, with the highlight of the card a new mile-and-three-quarter Heritage Handicap, one of three races live on Channel 4 (see Appendix for full race programme). The day is sponsored by betdirect, with the seven races named after Lester’s Guineas winners and there will be a display of photos, trophies and racing memorabilia chronicling Lester’s career.


Ø As a result of the fixture changes, Newmarket now has a record seven racedays in May, with racing on three of the four weekends.



JULY COURSE REDEVELOPMENT

Ø The £10 million July Course redevelopment is on schedule and should be completed at the end of May, ahead of the opening fixture on Friday, June 22. Lisa Hancock said: “It is only the first major phase of a comprehensive redevelopment masterplan and it does not include the stands themselves, but we are all very excited about it and I think it will have a significant impact on the enjoyment of our racegoers in the Premier Enclosure and Grandstand & Paddock this summer. There will be a lot more space, much improved amenities and a much nicer environment behind the stands.”

JULY COURSE SEASON

Ø The one fixture change on the July Course sees the old Sunday that used to be in late July move to the Saturday, bringing consistency to the summer programme – after two Friday-Saturday fixtures on consecutive weekends in June, followed by the Ritz Club July Festival in early July, there will now be run of six Friday-Saturday fixtures over six consecutive weekends. The new Saturday will enjoy Channel 4 coverage whereas the old Sunday did not.



UNICORN ASSET MANAGEMENT JULY COURSE SERIES

Ø A ground-breaking new series for two-year-olds, the Unicorn Asset Management July Course Series, consisting of 10 qualifiers and the most valuable nursery handicap ever run in Britain for the final on Saturday, August 25, will take place on the July Course this summer. It is the first time that a major race series will have taken place in its entirety on one track. Each qualifier is worth at least £10,000 and with the £50,000 final, the whole series carries prize money of £170,000 (see Appendix for full schedule).


RITZ CLUB JULY FESTIVAL, Wednesday, July 11 – Friday, July 13

Ø Prize money will enjoy yet another boost this year, up by £86,000 to £1,366,000. This year’s increases have been focused in particular on the key handicaps. The Ladbrokes Bunbury Cup on the Friday goes up from £70,000 to £100,000, while Thursday’s Kleinwort Benson Heritage Handicap goes from £50,000 to £70,000. Wednesday’s totesport Heritage Handicap for three-year-olds over 6 furlongs will be worth £90,000 (see Appendix for full race programme).


Ø The Festival’s premier race is the Darley July Cup, which this year has gone up in value from £360,000 to £375,000, maintaining its status as the most valuable and prestigious sprint race in Europe. Newmarket’s aspiration is for it to join the Global Sprint Challenge in the near future.


Ø Lanson, who have signed a three-year deal as the official supplier of champagne and wine to Newmarket Racecourses, are the new sponsor of Ladies’ Day, which for the first time this year will be on the middle day of the Ritz Club July Festival (Thursday, July 12).


Ø The Ritz Club July Festival will for the first time be part of a wider Newmarket Festival this year. It will start on the eve of the Ritz Club July Festival with a concert on the July Course by acclaimed classical and operatic pop group, G4, the first time that the track will have hosted a concert outside a race meeting. The opening day of the Ritz Club July Festival is Classic FM Day, following on the theme from the previous evening. There will be musical interludes from the stage before racing and between races, continuing throughout the afternoon. That night there will be late night shopping in the town, with classical ensembles playing at various locations near the shops.


Lanson Ladies’ Day follows on the Thursday, though fashion will be a strong theme at the July Course on all three days. On Thursday evening, a James Bond / Casino Royale-themed sporting dinner will take place at Swynford Paddocks, while on Friday morning the Bedford Lodge will host a sumptuous breakfast and a visit to the gallops with trainer Nick Littmoden as well as a tour of his yard. Then it’s the Darley July Cup in the afternoon to bring down the curtain on a fantastic three days of racing.

Lisa Hancock said: “We hope that many other events will be organised in and around the town during the week. The aim is for the Newmarket Festival to be a celebration for everyone who lives in and around Newmarket and a celebration of Newmarket for visitors to the town that week.”


NEWMARKET NIGHTS

Ø For the first time this year there will be no tribute acts appearing at the Newmarket Nights, which will feature the biggest and most expensive line-up of bands and artistes in the 20 year history of the “Nights”. INXS (Friday, June 22), the Sugababes (Friday, June 29), Madness (Friday, July 20), Jools Holland (Friday, August 3), The Ordinary Boys (Friday, August 10) and Wet Wet Wet (Friday, August 17) will light up the July Course this summer. One band has yet to be confirmed for Friday, July 27.



AUTUMN SEASON

Ø The October Meeting has been streamlined from three days down to two, Friday October, 19 and Saturday, October 20, the latter being Champions’ Day. As a result, a new Friday-Saturday fixture has been created on 21/22 September, utilising the day shaved off the October Meeting together with the old September Tuesday.


Ø Newmarket has one of only two Pattern Race upgrades in Britain this year with the Oh So Sharp Stakes at the Cambridgeshire Meeting going from Listed to Group Three status.

Ø The totesport Cambridgeshire and totesport Cesarewitch will both increase in value by £10,000 to £160,000 each and they remain two of the highest class and most competitive handicaps of the season. The last two totesport Cambridgeshire winners, Blue Monday and Formal Decree, have gone on to win at Group Three level, while the 2005 totesport Cesarewitch winner, Sergeant Cecil, went on to Group One success and last year’s winner, Detroit City, has gone on to take top rank as a hurdler.

Ø Next year’s autumn season at Newmarket promises to be even more spectacular, with the addition of two new two-year-old Sales Races, the Tattersalls Million and the Tattersalls Fillies 800. They will make the 2008 Cambridgeshire Meeting the richest fixture in Newmarket’s history.

PRESS LAUNCH SPEECHES

LISA HANCOCK

Good morning everyone and thank you all for coming here today. I do hope you enjoyed our time on the gallops, and at Jeremy Noseda’s and Peter Chapple-Hyam’s yards. What odds that we’ve seen at least one future classic winner today? Pretty short, I would imagine.

What this morning showed once again is just what a treasure trove of sights and sounds Newmarket has to offer the racing enthusiast. This is something that we are trying to promote more and more strongly, whenever the opportunity arises. Our aim is not just to attract more people to come racing here, but to encourage them to be captivated by the whole Newmarket experience.


Last week, Alistair Haggis and I had a sneak preview of the new Munnings exhibition at the National Horseracing Museum. It may not be huge, but there are some absolutely stunning pictures on show, including some that have never been seen in public before. Then there are the mares and foals over at the National Stud – the sights there at this time of year are a joy to behold. And, of course, on almost every street in and around the town, you can sense that here in Newmarket the Sport of Kings is lived and breathed like nowhere else on earth.


3000 horses in training, 70 trainers, 60 stud farms, over 100 miles of gallops on the world’s largest expanse of tended grassland and, of course, 2 racecourses. No other racing venue in the world can compete with what we have all around us and while some people may not be enamoured by the viewing on our two, unique straight courses, what you get here at the Home of Horseracing is the most authentic racing experience in the world at the place where the sport as we know it today began some 350 years ago.

All this puts us in a position to offer our racegoers experiences that no other racecourse in Britain can match. Yesterday we announced details of Lester Piggott Day, sponsored by betdirect, on Saturday, May 19, an opportunity to relive with Lester some of his greatest moments on the NatWest Rowley Mile, 50 years on from the first of his seven Guineas victories. Lester’s home is just over there and he’s going to be letting us raid it the day before to bring some of his most prized photographs and memorabilia for a special exhibition organised for us by the National Horseracing Museum, which will be housed in a marquee just by the Members’ entrance.


On Stan James Guineas Sunday we’ve got Frankie’s restaurant coming here, with Marco Pierre White and Frankie Dettori himself hosting the occasion. It’s the highlight of our “Sunday Lunch at the Guineas” promotion. Frankie, of course, lives just a mile or so away and we hope very much that by the end of the year we’ll be announcing that Frankie’s restaurant will be a permanent feature of the NatWest Rowley Mile. Incidentally both sittings in Frankie’s on Sunday, May 6, are already completely sold out, within days of going on sale, but there’s still space in the Rous Enclosure for an amazing value Sunday lunch which I’ll come back to in a little while.


Over Stan James Guineas weekend we’re running a pre-racing tour for 50 people each day, on Saturday going to Cheveley Park Stud for an exclusive visit to one of Newmarket’s most successful breeding establishments, and on Sunday to Clive Brittain’s wonderful stables for a personal tour with the town’s senior trainer. We organised such trips on our major Rowley Mile racedays for the first time last year and every one sold out in advance.

These are all the kind of things that other racecourses can only dream of being able to offer. This is the magic of our location, the birthplace of horseracing and still the beating heart of the sport and of the industry in this country today.

Out there we have what we believe is the most historic stretch of turf in the entire world of sport, let alone horseracing, where monarchs from a bygone era nurtured the sport we all love, and I’m now going to hand over to Michael to talk you briefly through our season which will explode into life two weeks from today.



MICHAEL PROSSER

Good morning everyone. As Lisa said, in two weeks’ time we will be about to get under way on the first of our season’s 37 racedays. We start, of course, with the Craven Meeting which will look a little different this year in its new two-day format which we announced a couple of months ago.


Crowds have been modest over recent years for this traditional curtain-raiser to our season and, having lost terrestrial television coverage, it has become much harder to attract race sponsorship. By going to two days, we have been able to keep the best 14 races from the old three-day format to create a much stronger overall line-up of races for this important classic trials meeting, which will hopefully maximise its appeal to racegoers.

At the same time, we have been able to relocate the fixture that we have taken out of the Craven Meeting to May, where we have linked it up with the stand-alone Saturday which we had last year the weekend after the Stan James Guineas Festival. As a result we have been able to create a brand new Friday-Saturday meeting in the middle of May, two weeks after the Guineas. The Saturday will be Lester Piggott Day this year, with the highlight of the card a new mile-and-three-quarter Heritage Handicap, one of three races live on Channel 4. The day is sponsored by betdirect, with the seven races named after Lester’s Guineas winners.


A week later we have a Friday-Saturday-Sunday fixture, culminating in Countryside Day on Sunday, May 27. In all we now have a record seven racedays in May, with fixtures on three of the four weekends in the month – days when we should be able to maximise attendances, certainly compared with the fixture that we have moved from Craven week. It should make for the busiest spring on the NatWest Rowley Mile for many a year.


I would like to focus briefly on the highlight of our spring season, the Stan James Guineas Festival on Saturday, May 5 and Sunday, May 6, where we have made some significant changes to the race programme to improve still further the excellent Sunday card. We have switched the Stan James Palace House Stakes with the Dahlia to provide a top class sprint on the Sunday and we have axed the mile and a quarter conditions race for four-year-olds and up and replaced it with the Suffolk Heritage Handicap, the spring version of the totesport Cambridgeshire, which we created two years ago on the Saturday after the Guineas.

The two classics themselves have both gone up in value by £20,000 to prize funds of £350,000 each, keeping them well ahead of the field as the most valuable races of their kind in Europe. In our opinion the pivotal importance of the Stan James 2000 and 1000 Guineas within the racing calendar cannot be under-estimated and we will continue to ensure that their value reflects this.

Overall the prize money for the Stan James Guineas Festival this year stands at £1, 155,000, up from £1,102,000 last year.


That’s a quick update on the spring and I’ll now move on to summer on the July Course. Lisa will bring you up to speed on the redevelopment shortly, so I will focus on the racing highlights.

We announced on Monday a ground-breaking new series for two-year-olds, the Unicorn Asset Management July Course Series, consisting of 10 qualifiers and the most valuable nursery handicap ever run in Britain for the final on Saturday, August 25. It is the first time that a major racing series will have taken place in its entirety on one track. The July Course is already renowned for the strength and importance of its two-year-old maidens and this new series promises to enhance them still further, while the four nursery qualifiers and the £50,000 nursery final are guaranteed to be hugely competitive.

Each qualifier is worth at least £10,000 – two are in fact worth £20,000 – and with the £50,000 final, the whole series carries prize money of £170,000. I believe that it will make a significant contribution to enhancing the quality of our summer racing programme.


When one talks of quality, our summer highlight is, of course, the Ritz Club July Festival, which this year runs from Wednesday, July 11 to Friday, July 13. Prize money over these three days will enjoy yet another boost this year, up by £86,000 to £1,366,000, and, though I say it myself, if you compare it with the line-up of races six or seven years ago, the transformation in the quality of the three-day programme is truly remarkable.


This year we have focused in particular on the key handicaps. The Ladbrokes Bunbury Cup on the Friday goes up from £70,000 to £100,000, while Thursday’s Kleinwort Benson Heritage Handicap goes from £50,000 to £70,000. With Wednesday’s totesport Heritage Handicap for three-year-olds over six furlongs already worth £90,000, we have some really serious prizes on offer alongside a world class programme of Pattern and Listed Races over the three days.


The Festival’s premier race is the Darley July Cup, which this year has gone up in value from £360,000 to £375,000, maintaining its status as the most valuable and prestigious sprint race in Europe. I went to Hong Kong last December to promote the race and we produced a brochure and DVD to market it to overseas owners and trainers.

The Darley July Cup is unquestionably our most international race and one which we intend to keep at the forefront of the global sprinting programme. Indeed, we remain very keen for it to join the Global Sprint Challenge – one could say that it makes little sense for Europe’s top sprint race not to be included – and we have been working with Ascot and the other participating organisations to try to lay the groundwork for this to be realised in the near future.

The one fixture change on the July Course sees the old Sunday that we used to have in late July move to the Saturday, bringing consistency to our summer programme – after two Friday-Saturday fixtures on consecutive weekends in June, followed by the Ritz Club July Festival in early July, we now have a run of six Friday-Saturday fixtures over six consecutive weekends. The new Saturday will enjoy Channel 4 coverage whereas the old Sunday did not.


Moving on to the autumn, we have a very similar change to our fixture list as in the spring. We have streamlined the October Meeting from three days down to two, Friday, October 19 and Saturday, October 20, the latter being Champions’ Day. As a result, we have been able to create a new Friday-Saturday fixture on September 21 and 22, utilising the day we have shaved off the October Meeting together with the Tuesday that we he have had for the last few years in September. This represents another significant improvement to our fixture list.


The quality of our autumn programme is exceptional, with five Group 1 contests and a plethora of Group 2’s, Group 3’s and Listed Races. We have one of only two Pattern Race upgrades in Britain this year with the Oh So Sharp Stakes going from Listed to Group Three status.

The totesport Cambridgeshire and totesport Cesarewitch, both of which are going up in value by £10,000 to £160,000 each, remain two of the highest class and most competitive handicaps of the season. When you look back at the last two totesport Cambridgeshire winners, both Blue Monday and Formal Decree have gone on to win at Group Three level, while the 2005 totesport Cesarewitch winner, Sergeant Cecil, went on to Group One success and last year’s winner, Detroit City, has gone on to take top rank as a hurdler. Quite a record for the “Autumn Double” races over the last two years.


Next year’s autumn season promises to be even more spectacular, with the addition of two new two-year-old Sales Races, the Tattersalls Million and the Tattersalls Fillies 800. I know that not everyone is a fan of sales races, but they are sure to attract strong fields and generate considerable interest. They will make the 2008 Cambridgeshire Meeting the richest fixture in Newmarket’s history.

Overall, our prize money for the 2007 season is set to be a record £7.4m, up from £7.27m last year and this despite a downturn in Levy Board prize money funding of some £185,000.

As well as continuing to invest more in prize money, we have also done so in our equine facilities, including a new running rail in the run-off on both courses and new washdown facilities on the July Course.

Turning to the ground, with the mild winter that we’ve experienced this year, the grass cover is very good out there, although given the prolonged dry spell which we have experienced over the last three weeks, we may need to irrigate prior to the Craven Meeting which you wouldn’t have thought possible six weeks ago. The forecast is for fine, dry weather next week with temperatures above the seasonal average.


Once again we have extended an offer to trainers with entries in the Stan James 2000 and 1000 Guineas to work their horses on the course after racing on the second day of the Craven Meeting and I would imagine that we will have at least one or two takers.


I can’t wait for the season to start now, with the return of Teofilo and Finsceal Beo to take on the best of Newmarket’s three-year-olds, such as Dutch Art and Sander Camillo, a real treat in store for us. More history is about to be made out there on our historic turf.


Thank you.


LISA HANCOCK

Michael mentioned the increased prize money for the Stan James Guineas Festival and we are extremely grateful to Stan James for their outstanding support for our premier fixture.

This year the Stan James Guineas Village on the Hyperion Lawn will be really buzzing. A great package offer is set to bring many new racegoers to Newmarket, with food outlets, a bar, betting shop and a big screen to show the Arsenal-Chelsea game as well as the racing.

On Sunday, we have gone with a Sunday lunch theme in our marketing, encouraging people to come along for Sunday lunch in a different setting. As I mentioned earlier, the two sittings in Frankie’s have already sold out, but we still have capacity in the Rous Enclosure, opposite the grandstand close to the winning post, where a two-course Sunday roast lunch with a seat at a table that is yours for the day costs just £52.50 when booked in advance. When you consider that this includes a Premier Enclosure badge, for which the full price is £36, and a racecard worth £3, the lunch and your seat for the day in the exclusive Rous Enclosure cost effectively just £13.50. For children the whole thing costs just £8 as their admission to the racecourse is free. I don’t think that anyone could disagree that this represents sensational value for any restaurant anywhere, let alone one that provides a great view of a world class Classic raceday at the Home of Horseracing. Capacity in the Rous Enclosure restaurant is several hundred and we hope very much to fill it.


We are driving bookings for these Sunday lunches, and for ticket sales in general, as far as possible through our website, newmarketracecourses.co.uk. We would be the first to admit that our website currently looks very outdated, difficult to navigate and far too dull. That is about to change, because before the Craven Meeting we will have gone live with a brand new site. The address will be the same, but that’s about all that will be.

We are going to have a Racing Centre, with regular news stories from Newmarket thanks to local journalist Tony Rushmer, who will be picking up the latest on the key contenders ahead of all our big meetings. Tony will also be uploading podcasts of interviews with trainers to make the site more interactive. You’ll find them in the Multmedia section. Radio stations are most welcome to download and use them.


We would encourage you to visit the racing news section on a regular basis once we go live. In the near future we will start to use the website to release all our news, simply alerting you by email or text message to the fact that there’s a new story online.


We will be building up a history archive within the section “About The Home of Horseracing”, with fascinating articles by a local historian on different aspects of Newmarket’s rich and varied history. There’ll be one on there about the beginnings of Newmarket back in the Bronze Age and another on the world famous Newmarket sausages.


There will also be video on it. Later in the year we hope to be offering free access to videos of all our races from this season, but when we go live you’ll be able to see Lester’s Guineas victories, barring footage of Crepello which sadly doesn’t seem to exist, and Highflyer are putting together a two and a half minute introduction to Newmarket for us to encourage visitors to our website to come and sample the whole Newmarket experience.

The site has been divided into Spring, Summer and Autumn, overcoming the confusion which people who are new to Newmarket often find when discovering that we have two distinct racecourses. When you enter the site in April, you will come to the spring homepage and everything on the menu will relate to the NatWest Rowley Mile.

A wealth of information will be on it, hopefully much easier to locate than on our existing site. Your feedback over the coming months and your suggestions on how we could make it even better would be gratefully received. It should be live by the end of next week.


Our aim is to see the number of bookings that we take online reach 40% this year – last year we took 30% online – and to that end we are offering a 20% discount on all advance bookings taken through our website. By phone the discount is only 10% and it only applies until 14 days in advance of each race meeting.


If bookings via our website have grown, so have our attendances overall. The last two years our paid attendance, excluding annual members, owners, sponsors and all other complimentary badges and also excluding those who came to fixtures transferred here from Ascot and Kempton in 2005, has been just over 240,000. I would like to think we could smash the quarter of a million ticket sales barrier this year. Incidentally, annual membership is now sold out with a waiting list.


If ticket sales have been going well, then so too has sponsorship income. We have brought in a tremendous array of new sponsors over recent years and what is particularly pleasing is the number of blue chip brands from outside the racing industry who currently sponsor at Newmarket. This year Emirates, Unicorn Asset Management, Kleinwort Benson, Renault, TNT, Lanson, The Ritz Club and One Railways will all be sponsoring races, while the Rowley Mile remains the only racecourse to have a title sponsor in NatWest.


Our sponsors have played a very significant part in our ability to raise prize money year-on-year since 2001. As Michael mentioned, it will be a record £7.4m this year. Higher prize money has gone hand-in-hand with a stronger race programme. Michael talked about the Ritz Club July Festival race programme and how that has been totally transformed, but the same could be said of all our major racedays, and indeed the vast majority of our smaller days as well. Michael has worked tirelessly to enhance our programme wherever possible, from the point of view both of the fixtures themselves and the individual races.


This has reaped huge dividends and, while we have lost some Channel 4 days like the Craven Meeting, we have gained other days by creating more and more Saturday fixtures, thereby maintaining our level of terrestrial coverage and so bucking the trend at most other racecourses.

Away from the track, our non-raceday business here on the NatWest Rowley Mile continues to grow apace, with exhibitions, conferences, weddings and a whole raft of other events taking place here – for instance we are now also East Anglia’s biggest and most successful themed Christmas party venue. Indeed we served over 5000 meals in the run-up to Christmas last year. This is another vital source of revenue for us.


The success of our business has allowed us to invest £10 million in the redevelopment of the area behind the stands on the July Course. Please remember that this is only the first major phase of a comprehensive redevelopment masterplan and it does not include the stands themselves, but we are all very excited about it and I think it will have a significant impact on the enjoyment of our racegoers in the Premier Enclosure and Grandstand & Paddock this summer. There will be a lot more space, much improved amenities and a much nicer environment. Work is continuing on schedule and should be finished at the end of May. We have pencilled in Tuesday, June 5, to unveil it to the media so hopefully a lot of you will be able to come along then.


The improved facilities and increased space will come into its own at the “Newmarket Nights”, our series of seven Friday evening fixtures when racing is followed by live music. For the first time this year there will be no tribute bands at all, such that we now have the biggest and certainly the most expensive line-up of bands and artistes in the 20 year history of the Newmarket Nights. INXS, Madness, Wet Wet Wet, the Sugababes, the Ordinary Boys and, of course, Jools Holland, back for his 11th consecutive year, will light up the July Course this summer and we still have one band to confirm in the next few days. It’s a tremendously high profile line-up which is a strong indication of just how important the success of the Nights is to our bottom line.



Our other big summer event when the full impact of the new July Course facilities will be felt is the Ritz Club July Festival, to which we are welcoming Lanson as the new sponsor of Ladies’ Day, which for the first time this year will be on the middle day of the meeting. Indeed our deal with Lanson encompasses the whole season as they are now signed up for a three year deal as the official supplier of champagne and wine to Newmarket Racecourses, another big feather in the cap of our caterers, Letheby & Christopher, and our sponsorship department.

The Ritz Club July Festival has grown apace over the last few years and our main initiative this year has been to expand it into Newmarket itself. Many in the town share our aspiration to see the week become a major festival for the whole of Newmarket and, while this will inevitably take a few years to realise, we will be getting off to a good start this year. The Newmarket Festival will start on the eve of the Ritz Club July Festival with a concert on the July Course by acclaimed classical and operatic pop group G4. It is the first time that the July Course will have hosted a concert outside a race meeting.


The racing starts the following day, where a new addition will be a small shopping village on the July Course. The opening day is Classic FM Day, following on the theme from the previous evening. Rather than a concert after the last race as has been the case for the last two years, there will be musical interludes from the stage before racing and between races, continuing throughout the afternoon. That night there will be late night shopping in the town, with classical ensembles playing at various locations near the shops.


Lanson Ladies’ Day follows on the Thursday, though fashion will be a strong theme at the July Course on all three days. On Thursday evening, a James Bond / Casino Royale-themed sporting dinner will take place at Swynford Paddocks, while on Friday morning the Bedford Lodge will host a sumptuous breakfast and a visit to the gallops with trainer Nick Littmoden as well as a tour of his yard. Then it’s the Darley July Cup in the afternoon to bring down the curtain on a fantastic three days of racing.

We hope that many other events will be organised in and around the town during the week and in the future we hope to see it grow, perhaps with a real ale festival, open air theatre and other musical events taking place in Newmarket. In 2008 the annual Newmarket carnival will move to take place this week. The aim is for the Newmarket Festival to be a celebration for everyone who lives in and around Newmarket and a celebration of Newmarket for visitors to the town that week.

I think you will agree that never before has so much been happening at Newmarket Racecourses. Never before has there been so much to look forward to. Never before has there been such a buzz of anticipation here. For the first time I can stand in front of you at our press launch with unfettered optimism for the future.


We’ve got our best ever fixture list, enhanced by two new weekend fixtures; we’ve got our best ever race programme, which contains more pattern and listed races than any other British racecourse, and has been enhanced by more prize money, increased sponsorship and new initiatives like the Unicorn Asset Management July Course Series, plus the Tattersalls Millions to come in 2008.

We are going to have a transformed July Course, the strongest ever Newmarket Nights programme, the biggest ever Ritz Club July Festival which will spread into the town itself for the first time. We’ve got Lester Piggott Day, Frankie’s restaurant on Stan James Guineas Sunday and hopefully soon all year round; and the Home of Horseracing Tours to places like Cheveley Park Stud.

Continuous innovation is at the heart of our brand and this year you will see that in many different guises. If you can name another racecourse with so much happening, that has so much to offer, such diversity, then I’d be very interested to hear it. I would just like to say a huge thank you to all my team – everyone is working flat out, but I think we can all feel that something big is happening at Newmarket.

What I hope that all this demonstrates is just how far Newmarket has moved forward in the 21st century. As the Headquarters of Racing, owned by the Jockey Club and frequented more than any course by racing’s “establishment”, it has been very hard for us to break free from the perception that we are conservative, traditional, rather stuffy and staid, and perhaps rather unwelcoming to the wider public. Some of those things may well have been true in the past, but that is most certainly not the case now and I do not believe that we could have been doing more over the last few years to dispel these misconceptions.


Our overriding message is that everyone is welcome at Newmarket and, with all that this utterly unique, historic racing town has to offer, it is a place where anyone with even just a passing interest in the “sport of kings” should come at least once in their lifetime.


Thank you.


For old articles (from 1st March 2000) go to the Newslink Archive


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