THE FINAL act of the 2008 season on The July Course will see the 339th running of the Newmarket Town Plate, supported by Powters and Golding, take place after racing on Saturday, August 23.
This historic race – the first contest to be run in Britain under written rules after it was instituted by Act of Parliament in 1665 by Charles II– epitomises the Corinthian spirit with the original rules specifying that ‘No man is admitted to ride that is either a serving man or groom’.
As such, those horses that line up from the 17-strong entry for the three-and-three-quarter mile race, will be ridden by amateurs in the truest sense of the word. This is, indeed, a special event that can be landed by the butcher, baker or candlestick maker.
Following its institution in 1665 by King Charles II, the contest was first held in 1666 with conditions specifying that it was to be run ‘forever’. Starting on The National Stud, the race joins The July Course at its two-mile start and concludes at the track’s usual finishing line.
The first prize for the successful rider is The Golding Perpetual Challenge Plate, a £125 Golding voucher and a memento presented by Powters. Golding, the famous Newmarket outfitter, will also give a voucher to the second, third and fourth-placed rider, while each of the first four will receive a box of celebrated Powters Newmarket sausages.
Newmarket Racecourses’ Director of Racing Michael Prosser said: "The Newmarket Town Plate is a fantastic race and there are several reasons why I really look forward to it each year.
"Firstly, it offers a marvellous opportunity to the riders, who wouldn’t normally have the chance to compete on a prestigious racecourse. It is a very competitive event and is taken extremely seriously by those participating.
"I also feel the contest is a fitting annual tribute to both those that established horseracing in the 17th century and Newmarket’s heritage. It is such an historic event, underlined by the fact that on Saturday the 339th chapter will be written.
"Lastly, I feel the staging of the race is an appropriate way to bring down the curtain on summer racing at The July Course. This is the third year we have held it after the final card of the year at the track and it has worked exceptionally well since it was switched to its current slot.
"There will be a terrific atmosphere with a large crowd enjoying a terrific spectacle."