Racing fans were treated to a glimpse behind the scenes of the industry on Sunday at the second Betfair sponsored Newmarket Open Day.
Thousands of racing enthusiasts from all corners of the country descended upon Headquarters as more than 30 yards from across the town, and in nearby Exning, opened up their doors to the public.
Before the gates were opened to some of the most famous stables in the country an hour long gallop, sponsored by the Racing Post, and featuring horses from the likes of John Gosden, Saeed Bin Suroor, Sir Mark Prescott and Lady Cecil, took place on Warren Hill.
Among the list of equine names put through their paces for the public was the Gosden trained duo of Group One winning filly The Fugue and current ante-post favourite for next year’s Qipco 2000 Guineas Kingman.
Once the gallop session was completed trainers welcomed visitors in their yards for a three-hour period, answering any questions thrown at them along with showing them the day-to-day running of a yard.
One of the stables that proved a popular stopping point throughout the event, which was raising money for the town’s New Astley Club, The National Horseracing Museum, and The British Racing School, was that of Fordham Road handler Roger Varian.
“We had a steady stream of people visit the yard all morning,” said Mr Varian.
“The staff have been very good at showing people around and talking to them and we have a had a lot of people saying how helpful they have been.
“People seem appreciative of the opportunity to be able to go around the yards.”
While for many the opportunity to visit the various yards formed the highlight of their morning, other attractions with links to the racing world also staged events on the day.
Well-established town farriers O A Cutis and Son put on a plating display, while up at Tattersalls bloodstock agent Tom Goff gave a talk on the qualities he looks for in a horse when buying at the sales.
Talks also took place at equine vets Rossdales and the Newmarket Equine Hospital, while an archeological dig was started at Palace House Stables.
In the afternoon action transferred to the Rowley Mile racecourse where a host of activities took place including the Weatherbys Shetland Pony Grand National, double harness scurry driving and mounted games.
However the undoubted highlight of the afternoon at the racecourse was a football match between a team of jockeys, managed by television chat-show star Jeremy Kyle, and a team of trainers managed by former Newcastle United striker-turned-racehorse-trainer Micky Quinn.
Goals from Neil Callan and Marc Halford gave the jockeys the upper hand at the break before Pat Cosgrave added a third in the second half to round out the 3-0 win and give the jockeys bragging rights.
“As it is a once-a-year thing it is always a great day. I had lots of fun taking part in the match and the fitness of us jockeys made us kill the fat trainers,” said Frankie Dettori.
Winning manager Kyle added: “I thought it was a fantastic day and one which is great for racing. For a long time racing has been my number one passion, behind my children, whether it be National Hunt or Flat racing and it was great to see so many people turn out. I am absolutely up for coming back next year as I want to defend my team’s trophy.”
Although a final attendance figure and a grand total of how much was raised on the day are yet to be released, organisers were pleased with how the day went.
“We were absolutely delighted with the turn out for Betfair Newmarket Open Day,” said Jonno Spence of event organisers JSC.
“It was fantastic to see top horses on the gallops and such a buzz in the yards. On behalf of Newmarket open day I would like to thank everyone who made this day possible, especially the trainers that cantered their horses or opened their yards, allowing the public to see behind the scenes of the home of horseracing. We hope we have made lots of money for three fantastic charities.“
Readers can catch up on the highlights from the open day by tuning into Racing UK’s This Racing Life programme which will be aired at 12pm, 12.30pm and 1pm today, 12pm, 12.30pm tomorrow, 12pm Saturday and 10am Sunday.