Britain's most prestigious racecourse lies at Newmarket, a small country town whose main tourist draw is the series of warm-weather horse races with origins dating from the days of James I and Charles II. Charles II was so enthusiastic about racing that he frequently ordered most of his Restoration-era court up from London to attend the races.
The headquarters of British racing, and the venue where precedents and policies are hammered out before being applied to the more formal venue of Ascot, Newmarket is the only racecourse in Britain with two separate racetracks.
The more bucolic of these is the July Race Course, where races are held during the heat and glare of June, July, and August. It's the site of the prestigious July Cup. The Rowley Mile, smaller than the other course, is known for its rows of beech trees that shade the saddling boxes and promenade grounds, as well as the thatched roofs that add an old-English charm to ornamental entryways and some of the showcase buildings used by investors, owners, and fans. The grandstands have conventional roofs, shielding fans from the sun and the rain.
The more industrial-looking racetrack is the Rowley Mile, used during the racing season's cooler months (mid-Apr to late May and early Sept-Nov 2). Dress codes are less strictly observed here than at the July Race Course, where men wear jackets and ties, but the venue at Rowley Mile attracts a bigger and brasher crowd. At the Rowley Mile, prestigious races such as the Guineas Races, the Cesarewitch Handicap, and the Champion Stakes are run..
The two courses lie within 1km (a half mile) of each other and share the same administration. For information, contact the Clerk of the Course, Westfield House, the Links, Newmarket, Suffolk CB8 0TG (tel. 01638/663482; www.newmarketracecourses.co.uk).
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.