A day at Newbury Races – in the west of Berkshire, England

Newbury Races

A bit work on the way up

It was with a degree of luck that I picked out a great race meeting within easy reach (via train) from London. Newbury Dubai Cup carnival.

So up early and off to station to purchase train tickets and grab a quick toastie for breakfast. We boarded our direct train to Newbury and settled back for the hour journey in a very comfortable carriage. It was good to get a look at some of the outskirts of London before we made our way through the countryside.

We arrived at Newbury (Newbury was founded late in the 11th century following the Norman conquest as a new borough, hence its name.) at 11am.


We decided to explore what we thought was a small place that turned out to quite a large centre with exceptional shopping and a great mall area.

After a very nice morning tea we headed back to the station to catch train to Newbury racecourse station and walk across to the the beautiful racecourse.

 

Best selection on the day

We paid our dues for the members area and headed in to look around. The facilities were outstanding and I just can’t believe how lucky we were to pick this race meeting and on this day.

Perfect

After having a good look around we cloaked our coats and settled into the grandstand to watch the first.

Who brought binoculars to England
and not to the races

I selected a horse by stallion we had seen a few days before at the National Stud. Pastoral Pursuits. Although he was just in double digit odds he put up a good show to run second.

After that I backed next two winners and then manage to land the exacta on the 4th, my punting day ended in the very wide open cup race where my selection put up a good show to run third.


Just goes to show one does not always have to know the horses to line up the form or at least have a very lucky day.

The racing was good and the salt (corned) beef sandwich was even better apparently. My winnings paid for our day out which was a bonus.

Frankie Dettori arrived by helicopter 10 minutes before the cup, presented the cup and flew out again before the next race. A true flying visit.  We however made our way back to the train and head back to London.

On our way back to the hotel picked up sandwiches and drinks for dinner at local supermarket for dinner before falling into bed after what will be a long remembered day at the races.

Click here for full day in photos and videos

 

Off to Newmarket, The National Stud and The Cricketer Arms

In past trips, we have joined stud tours at Three Chimney’s Farm in Kentucky USA, the Irish National
Stud and this trip we wanted to visit the National Stud at Newmarket England.

 

National Stud and Newmarket

                                                Driving from Manchester to Newmarket was a very nice drive of only about 3 hours 40 which we competed at a leisurely pace arriving at the Heath Court Hotel in heart of Newmarket and only 100 yards walk to the gallops.

Hundreds of horses are worked here every morning and the street around town are filled with quite big stables.

Horses and cars co-exist without all the red tape and safety measures we would have at home. The is a busy road right up to the middle of the slow and fast tracks, cars just wait when large groups horses cross from one track to another.

The tour of the National Stud was the main purpose of our visit and so after booking this online, we presented ourselves at the designated time and place. Nigel our guide was very informative as he was previously the Operations Manager (retired) of the whole stud.

He was an entertaining (muttering about the demise of Newmarket during the tour, now the Arabs own most of it) informative guide that really knew all the ins and outs of the stud.

Including the two stallions in residence
Bahamian Bounty (21 yrs old and retired) and his son Pastoral Pursuits.
Bahamian Bounty was a very successful sire in his time and his son Pastoral Pursuits

He was a very successful racehorse winning Pastoral Pursuits although has not lived up to expectations at stud as he is not attracting good mares and really needs a couple of black type winners to save him from sale.

Toronado (standing at Swettenham Stud) and Dick Turpin (standing in Western Australia) are both been shuttled to Australia for the season which will make for some interest to see how their offspring perform down under.

The stud was all freshly painted inside and out and was looking extra fresh for a working farm but Nigel told us this was due to the queen’s visit recently to plant a second tree (to mark 100 years of the stud), she planted her first tree at the stud back in 1966.


We were able to see a couple yearling being prepared for sale and a paddock full of weanlings including a Frankel Filly which was good, as this is the quieter time in the breeding season there were no foals but com Jan – Mar one could imagine how the place would be buzzing with activity with lots of new arrivals.

After our day at the stud it was back to the Heath Court for a rest, catch up on email and pay the wages for CB Transport aahh live goes on.

It is amazing that we can be so connected to home and travel at the same time. We have been having great facetime /hangout chats with all the little ones every other day.
For dinner we decided on something lighter and found an exceptional Thai place in main street all within walking distance from the hotel which was even better.

One our final morning in Newmarket we headed up to the gallops and watch the horse work again, the number of horses is staggering as well as the number young horses, no wonder this place is filled with people who look like they work in racing, lots of girls. 30 years and 30kgs and four children ago I would have loved to come and do something like this for a while. It would beat riding work in Dubbo that is for sure.

After another enormous breakfast offering, I did say offering, we took the lighter option of cereal, toast, and fruit. It was hard to resist the full cooked breakfast but we did. We headed to our next stop.

I found this interesting place called ‘The Cricketers Arms‘ on Rickling Green in Rickling, Essex we booked a room and headed that way. This was on our way back to Heathrow to return the car.

 

The Cricketers Arms Pub


What a find The Cricketers is a fantastic English pub in a tiny village overlooking the green. Cricket has been played on Rickling Green since about 1850, photos of which can be seen in The Cricketers Arms the one remaining village pub. Cricket is still played on the Green throughout the summer months.


The food, friendly staff, accommodation are first class and this will definitely make the highlights reel. The is such a welcoming warm feeling about the place that makes you want to settle in for a while.

 

A walk through the village will show many houses dating from the 17th and 18th centuries, exemplifying local materials and building traditions. These include local flints, bricks from local brickworks, tiles and thatch, half-timber as on Manor Farm.

Being only a bit over an hour from Heathrow, you can be sure there will be not a trip to London in the future that does not include another visit here to start or end a trip.


If we ever get to come back to Newmarket for the races it will be my place of choice for accommodation being only 50 minutes from Newmarket itself

It will be sad leaving here but London is calling…

 

 

 

 

 

Louisville, Lexington Kentucky and Churchill Downs

Shared a plate BBQ from Logans

 

We decided that our first day in Kentucky would be a rest day. We had a lie in then went to Best Buy to replace our trusty TomTom who started to freeze up on startup occasionally.
We decided it was time to upgrade and we purchase the new an improved model for under $150. After our short shopping trip, we had a light lunch (as light as you can get here anyway) before heading back to the room to relax.
Barbaro won 2006 Derby broke down in Preakness
put down in 2007 after a year of trying to save him
Day 2 Louisville we set off to find Churchill Downs home of the Kentucky Derby. We did the behind the scenes tour of the course and it was very informative.

Take the virtual tour 

Seating prices on track skyrockets
on Derby Day

 

Dad had Green with White? Colours
The track, they run
Melbourne way of going

 

The saddling paddock. The horses are saddled in the stalls
after they are walked over from barn before the race
Walking through the betting area

 

Grindstone’s saddle 1996 winner

Such history they have never missed holding the race since 1875. Through two world wars, the civil war and the battle of Little Big Horn the race has been run.

After Churchill Downs, we headed downtown to check out the Steamboat Belle of St Louisville on the river.

It was another hot day so we headed back to the hotel around three to rest up and cool off.

Day three we headed to Lexington via Versailles to explore the Keeneland track and drive past some of the many stud farms in the area.

 

Some pictures from our morning spent at Keeneland race track

Keeneland is a Thoroughbred horse racing facility and sales complex in Lexington, Kentucky, USA. Operated by the Keeneland Association, Inc., it is also known for its reference library on the sport, which contains more than 10,000 volumes, an extensive videocassette collection, and a substantial assemblage of photo negatives and newspaper clippings.

In 2009, the Horseplayers Association of North America introduced a rating system for 65 Thoroughbred racetracks in North America. Keeneland was ranked #1 of the top ten tracks. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1986.

Keeneland was founded in 1935 as a nonprofit racing–auction entity on 147 acres (0.59 km2) of farmland west of Lexington, which had been owned by Jack Keene, a driving force behind the building of the facility.

It has used proceeds from races and its auctions to further the thoroughbred industry as well as to contribute to the surrounding community. The racing side of Keeneland, Keeneland Race Course, has conducted live race meets in April and October since 1936.

It added a grass course in 1985. The spring meet contains several preps for the Kentucky Derby (held the first Saturday in May), the most notable of which is the Blue Grass Stakes. The fall meet features several Breeders’ Cup preps.

All the stud farms are well fences often with two lines of fencing forming lanes around the property.

Downtown Lexington

 

Downtown Lexington

 

Haven’t heard from Three Chimneys Farm about the tour will try and take it in on the way back to Texas.

Yes, Kentucky is the home of KFC and no we didn’t eat any while we were here. KFC was founded and is a chain of fast food restaurants based in Louisville, Kentucky, in the United States.

The Colonel was born and raised in Henryville, Indiana, Sanders passed through several professions in his lifetime. Sanders first served his fried chicken in 1930 in the midst of the Great Depression at a gas station he owned in North Corbin, Kentucky. The dining area was named Sanders Court & Café and was so successful that in 1935 Kentucky Governor Ruby Laffoon granted Sanders the title of honorary Kentucky Colonel in recognition of his contribution to the state’s cuisine.