Newmarket Course Guide

Situated just to the west of the town known in racing as ‘Headquarters’, Newmarket has two Flat racecourses, the Rowley Mile and the July Course. Both are typified by having long and wide straight tracks and the massive local horse popular ensures that competitive action is staged right through the Flat season.

Action takes place on the Rowley Mile in April and May before the action switches to the July course in midsummer before returning to the Rowley Mile for the autumn.

Feature races at Newmarket include the Classic trials – the Craven Stakes and Nell Gwyn Stakes – at the April meeting, the first Classics in the 1000 and 2000 Guineas in May, the July Cup and Falmouth Stakes at the July meeting, and the top juvenile races, the Middle Park Stakes, Cheveley Park Stakes, Dewhurst Stakes and Fillies Mile in the Autumn. The two October fixtures also host big handicaps in the form of the Cambridgeshire and Cesarewitch.


The Cesarewitch course is two and a half miles in extent, and despite the run-in of ten furlongs, in big fields those drawn low are at a disadvantage. A wide, galloping track with an uphill finish that is ideal for the big, long-striding horse, except for the descent into the Dip where those types can become unbalanced. Ability to see out the trip thoroughly is essential, and those that commit for home too early can be caught out by the uphill run to the line.

With the longest straight in Britain and just one turn to negotiate in distance races, this is a lovely course to ride. Surprisingly, though, there are one or two ridges, even before the run down into the Dip, and you need to ride them smoothly. The other thing a jockey has to remember is that it’s a long way up that finishing hill - you’ll see plenty caught in the closing stages. Because of the chalk base, it can ride very lively, and the wind direction is vital. Getting cover is so, so important when it’s in your face.

View from the saddle: Jason Weaver

The July Course is two miles and a furlong in extent with a right-handed bend at halfway, the first mile being part of the Cesarewitch course, the last the straight Bunbury mile. Notwithstanding the undulations for the first three quarters of a mile of the straight, the course then running downhill for a furlong before climbing to the line, it is galloping in character and favours big, long-striding sorts. As with the Rowley Mile course, ability to see out the trip thoroughly is essential.

The major difference between the Rowley Mile and the July Course is that, whereas the former is uphill all the way to the line, the latter levels off - almost falling away - after an initial climb. It’s a lovely track, every bit as nice for jockeys as it is for summer racegoers, but, when you’re riding, you have to be on weather-watch, as sometimes there’s a faster strip on the far side, near the hospitality marquees. The long straight means it’s a very fair course, with no pace bias, and it’s ideally suited to class horses.

View from the saddle: Jason Weaver
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