The weather for Champions’ Day this year was chilly and little windy, as only Newmarket Heath can be. The Friday of the meeting was sunny so part of that afternoon at least was warm; but the Saturday was overcast and most people, at least if they were interested in seeing the horses, came well wrapped against the cold.
There was the usual sizeable ‘big day’ contingent of mainly young people intent only on a ‘good day out; who dressed as if for an evening party, but we diehard ‘racegoers’ didn’t see very much of them! And given the cold who could blame the revellers for making the most of the numerous bars and restaurants in the NatWest Millennium Grandstand to shelter from the chill.
Before racing a good crowd braved the Parade Ring steppings to listen to course announcer Lorna Bradburne conduct an informative interview with personnel from leading Newmarket bloodstock auctioneers Tattersalls. This was followed by a brisk auction of Premier badges and a table for four in the restaurant on 31st October, in aid of Racing Welfare. Lorna then introduced the ‘pundits’ panel’ to advise racegoers which horses to back: thanks to former jockey and PJA Chief Executive Kevin Darley, Neal Wilkins of Victor Chandler, and Andy Holmes of Totesport. Meanwhile the Lotus Evora cars beside the PR provided by the eponymous sponsors of the Rockfel Stakes attracted a good deal of covetous attention!