Ever since horse-loving King James I visited in 1605, Newmarket, England, has been the seat of Britain’s horse-racing industry. Dozens of stud farms and training stables dot the flat heaths, along with the Newmarket Racetrack Museum, saddlers’ workshops, and other racing-related attractions.
Organized tours focusing on Britain’s horse-racing industry didn’t come about until last summer. Then, the Newmarket Thoroughbred Tours began operations. The firm offers half-day to four-day tours with a variety of itineraries, from spending a day at the racetrack to a weekend working with a trainer.
“We certainly seemed to have found gap in the market which needed filling,” says tour founder Anna Ludlow. Most of her customers have an interest in horses but no entree into the world behind the post-and-rail fences and lush green paddocks.
“We have a few casual sightseers, but most of our tours are individual and designed around very small groups,” says Ludlow. “We try to show what goes into producing the racehorse as soon on the racecourse.” A one-day tour might start with a visit to a stud farm, then on to transit yards to watch yearlings being broken, the sales paddocks, and training areas.
There’s a tour of the new British Racing School, which trains stable staff and apprentices, and the Equine Research Station, with its equine swimming pool.
Longer tours include two afternoons at the Members Lunching Room of the Newmarket Racetrack. The racing weekend even allows competent riders to join the morning gallops.
The day-long tours cost about £45, while the weekend and four-day tours cost from £430 to £550.
Ludlow says this season is shaping up nicely. “We’ve been appointed the sole booking agents for the National Stud, which is opening its doors to the public in March. In the past, it’s been open in just August and September.” That’s led to a fair number of early bookings.
In addition, Ludlow plans to organize a group tour to Lexington, Kentucky for buyers of Keenland’s autumn yearling sales. It will include airfare, hotels, and transportation “even of the horses purchased at the sales.”