The famous turf of Newmarket’s Rowley Mile is poised for one of the world’s greatest racing events – the QIPCO Guineas Festival.
Taking place over the Bank Holiday weekend of Saturday, 5 May and Sunday, 6 May, it’s the first big test of the year for horses, trainers and jockeys.
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The QIPCO 2000 Guineas on Saturday, 5 May is one of the world’s top Flat races and sets the standard for the rest of the season. The winner of the first British Classic in 2011 was Frankel, who put up an extraordinary performance which left racegoers almost stunned by its magnitude.
Frankel made all and was clear by half-way, winning unchallenged from his 12 rivals. This splendid victory by the unbeaten colt trained by Sir Henry Cecil was just the start of a magnificent season which saw him succeed in three more Group One mile races.
Frankel ended the year the best racehorse on the planet with a rating of 136 in the World Thoroughbred Rankings (WTR).
In the review of 2011, the WTR said: “His (Frankel’s) most visually arresting performance was when he sensationally spread-eagled the field from the start in the QIPCO 2000 Guineas at Newmarket. His rating of 136 marks him out as the joint top-rated colt, along with crack Irish colt Sea The Stars (2009), since the World Thoroughbred Rankings were instituted in 2004 and one would have to go back to 1984 and another Irish colt El Gran Senor (with a rating of 138 in the former International Classifications) to find a miler of comparable quality on official ratings.”
Frankel will work on the Rowley Mile Racecourse before racing on Saturday, 5 May, in preparation for his 2012 campaign.
The fillies’ Classic, the QIPCO 1000 Guineas, features on the second day, Sunday, 6 May, and is also run over a mile.
Not only popular with seasoned enthusiasts, the QIPCO Guineas Festival is seen to be one of the most exhilarating race meetings for those new to the sport.
Set on the Cambridgeshire/Suffolk border in the East of England, 12 miles from Cambridge, the town of Newmarket is known as the Home of Horseracing. Rich in history, the town has a legacy of almost four centuries of racing and the “Sport of Kings” has developed into a major industry, employing thousands of people in and around the town.
Racing’s heritage in Newmarket can be traced back to the early 17th century and the reign of King James I. The first race recorded on Newmarket Heath was in 1622. According to historians, two courtiers from the court of James I raced their steeds in a bid to win a purse of £100 and racing at Newmarket was born.
The sport flourished in the reign of King Charles II, with the first-race ever run under written rules in Britain, the Newmarket Town Plate which still takes place today, being instituted by the King in 1664.
The Jockey Club was established in Newmarket in the 18th century to run the sport in Britain and although its headquarters moved to London in the last century, the Jockey Club continues to own and manage much of the land and racing facilities in the town.
Today the town boasts two distinct racecourses, the modern and impressive Rowley Mile and the picturesque July Course which benefited from a sympathetic back of the stands redevelopment in 2007. Newmarket also has the world’s finest training facilities, including 50 miles of turf gallops and approximately 14 miles of artificial gallops on Newmarket Heath, the largest area of tended grassland in the world.
With over 2,500 racehorses in training at any one time, Newmarket is home to some of the biggest names in racing more than 70 licensed trainers including Sir Michael Stoute, Luca Cumani, Henry Cecil, the Maktoum Family’s Godolphin operation and Sir Mark Prescott.
Owners flock to Newmarket as a centre of excellence and leading proprietors include Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Godolphin, Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum, Sheikh Mohammed Al Maktoum, Prince Khalid Abdulla and Cheveley Park Stud. Newmarket is home to one of the world’s largest horse sales at Tattersalls and there are more than 60 stud farms in and around the town, breeding some of the finest racehorses in the world. These include the headquarters of Sheikh Mohammed’s Darley international breeding operation at Dalham Hall. Britain’s National Stud, now controlled by the Jockey Club, is also located on the edge of the town.
Newmarket is also home to the National Horseracing Museum, the Animal Health Trust with its state-of-the-art equine facilities, and the British Racing School where the trainers, jockeys and stable staff of the future can learn their trade and develop their skills. It is also the base for many of Britain’s top bloodstock agents and racing organisations, including the Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association, European Breeders’ Fund, Horseracing Forensic Laboratory, Injured Jockeys’ Fund, Stable Lads Welfare Trust and International Racing Bureau.