The July Racecourse, Newmarket, was a fantastic surprise that’s left me with a bunch of smile-inducing memories.

Expecting a little friendly chit-chat, I told the bookie I was placing my first ever bet, instead I got back a no nonsense, “Well sort it out then mate!”

Priceless British straight-talking!

Family Enclosure, This Way

This afternoon Sharon and I went to the horse racing at Newmarket July Racecourse, our first time ever at the races and I have to admit it was a surprisingly, thoroughly enjoyable experience.

Leroy placing our first bet of the day on the 2.15 race with Wilson.
Horse racing at Newmarket July Racecourse.

Suited men wore impossibly skinny trousers, poshed up ladies tottered in heels and the thundering horses were magnificent.

Suddenly the Saturday afternoon racing on the TV sports channels made sense, as did references to bookies and betting I’d heard over the years which finally clicked into place. Even as we arrived (four adults, two kids) with our ‘family enclosure’ tickets we laughed at the whole class structure as we were directed in the opposite direction to the Premier and Grandstand entrance gates. It was a bit like the walk most of us do through the luxury of first class when boarding a plane on our way to economy. But it set the tone for an afternoon of fun as we cackled and cracked jokes at our own expense.

We were out with Sharon’s brother Leroy, his wife Kayla and their two wonderful kids, Leromeo and Kiara.

A Horse Named Wilson

Yesterday on a tour of the town of Newmarket we had visited the LMC Stables and by chance bumped into a stable-hand guiding a horse named Wilson. We learned Wilson was two years old and would be running his first ever race at Newmarket today, at 2.15. So we were excited to see ‘our horse’ run and placed bets on him.

Day before the Newmarket races, meeting the horse Wilson at the LMC Stables who would be taking part in his first ever race.

Ignoring the displayed odds which suggested Wilson didn’t really have a chance, our first bet of the day, £2, went on Wilson. If he won we would win £82. There was £4,528.30 at stake for the winning horse owner. The race was over seven furlongs! Google is telling me 1 furlong = 220 yards (201.17m). Watching our first ever horse race was an adrenaline rush. Seeing them leave the gates on the big screen and gallop down the track, then a few moments later appearing in front of us, the thud of hooves rumbling past to the finish line away to our right. Wilson finished seventh in a field of eight. That’s what happens when your heart overrides your head.

We consoled ourselves with a delicious picnic lunch laid out on a blanket in the middle of perhaps 1,000 people, families just like us, enjoying the day out. Scotch eggs and sausage rolls from Tescos, very morish.

Horse racing at Newmarket July Racecourse – This horse is Jawwaal, one of the favourites listed in the 2.15pm race. He finished in third place.

Horse racing at Newmarket July Racecourse, first race of the day the 2.15pm underway. Our bet, Wilson, is the second from the right.

Horse racing at Newmarket July Racecourse is a fun day out for most people.

Horse racing at Newmarket July Racecourse – Leroy showing off the 80p profit he won on the 2.50pm race from betting ‘all in’ on Dark Red who finished third. The £4 is his original bet amount returned.

Horse racing at Newmarket July Racecourse – following the action on the big screen.

Horse racing at Newmarket July Racecourse – Trying to get a good view as the racing horses come down the track.

Two on Six – My Winning Bet on Inshiraah

A giant TV screen on the opposite side of the track relayed the live horse racing taking place across the UK. York, Chester, Ascot… the start times were all staggered, coordinated so there was a race starting every few minutes. The bookies were linked into all the different race venues so bets could be placed instantly on whichever event took your fancy.

Leroy bought a programme type guide book that listed every race taking place in England today with little synopsis and stats for each horse plus suggestions of those likely to finish in the top three. The guide book turned out to be rather accurate.

Fuelled from lunch I decided to have another go at this betting lark. The 3.15 was the Adnams Ghost Ship Fillies’ Handicap, 3yr old horses over 7 furlongs. I decided to go with the second favourite this time, a French horse called, Inshiraah, at 2/1 odds.

What Kind Of A Name Is That?

In fact, the horse names are a curiosity by themselves and as I overheard, this brought much amusement to many of the spectators. Names like, I’m A Star, Anythingtoday, Awake My Soul, Yeah Baby Yeah, Pillar Of Society and Major Pusey.

Anyway, back to the 3.15 race with Inshiraah. Zoom lens fitted on the camera I took up a good position by the fence, right alongside the track and watched as the seven horses came galloping into view. For once I was totally distracted from photography and barely remembered to press the shutter button as I realised my horse, Inshiraah was moving into the lead as the pack came past us. With a huge grin and clenched fist I looked up to the big screen as Inshiraah crossed the line first. I had won!!

Horse racing at Newmarket July Racecourse – Placing my winning bet, two on six – £2 on Inshiraah to win.

Horse racing at Newmarket July Racecourse – Inshiraah taking the lead and winning the 3.25pm race to give me my first successful bet at the races.

Horse racing at Newmarket July Racecourse – My winning ticket on Inshiraah.

Horse racing at Newmarket July Racecourse – My £6 winnings from Inshiraah, time to celebrate!

I proudly lined up to collect my winnings of £6. Well, you get your bet money back (£2 in this case) so the winnings was really £4.

I’ve never been so thrilled to receive £4 in my life.

Of course we went on to lose on a few more races and finished the day £6 down. Somehow I don’t think Sharon and I are ever going to be big players on the gambling scene.

Great Reasons To Try Horse Racing at Newmarket July Racecourse

As the final race of the day got underway we felt the first sprinkles of rain and all around us umbrellas started popping up. This is British summer; everyone knows to come prepared for rain!

We trooped back outside to find the car along with the thousands of other happy race goers.

Horse racing I have to say was not what I expected. For the masses like us it’s a social thing, an event, a fun day out. It’s not like football where spectators know every minute detail about the players and the game. With horse racing it’s about a good picnic, good company and yes, a little flutter on a horse.

It’s also great value. Our Family Enclosure tickets were just £11 each and kids were free. Pre-ordered Grandstand tickets were £16.20 per person and the Premier Enclosure, £24.30. Parking is free. Picnics and drinks coolers are allowed in, people bring fold out camping chairs, tables and even gazebos. Bets as low as £1 can be placed and just one small bet instantly gets you excited about the race.

Horse racing at Newmarket July Racecourse is like football at Wembley or cricket at Lords. Professional horse racing in the UK dates back to the 12th century with Newmarket chosen by King Charles II to host the first horse racing meetings in 1660-1685. With this rich history, Newmarket is often referred to as Britain’s spiritual home of horse racing.

Today was one of the special family race days for summer, the Summer Saturday Countryside Day, with loads of side shows and activities for kids, so perhaps my first impression is a little skewed. But even so, when you can enjoy the thrill of winning £4 and come away £6 lighter but still having had a good day, that’s not too bad a result.

I suspect horse racing at Newmarket July Racecourse might be something I’ll be doing again someday. In the meantime we’ll be looking out for Wilson on the Saturday results to see how he gets on.

Horse racing at Newmarket July Racecourse – Second race of the day whizzing by the crowd.

Horse racing at Newmarket July Racecourse.

Two ladies from Jakarta, Indonesia enjoying a day out at the Newmarket horse racing.

Horse racing at Newmarket July Racecourse – All races finished, it’s been a good day, time to head home. L-R: Sharon, Kayla, Leroy and Darrin.

Horse racing at Newmarket July Racecourse – Umbrellas up as everyone heads home in the drizzle.