There were highs and lows for the Home of Horseracing during the first half of 2013, which saw the unbeaten Frankel named the highest-rated Flat horse in the world, and the loss of one of the sport’s greatest trainers.
• The year started with a bang for Newmarket’s horseracing industry when Frankel officially became the highest-rated Flat horse in the world. It was announced by the 2012 World Thoroughbred Rankings that the son of Galileo, who was trained by Sir Henry Cecil, had taken over the top spot with his rating of 140. Unbeaten in all 14 of his career starts, Frankel amassed nearly £3 million in prize money.
• The £15 million Home of Horseracing’s National Heritage Centre project was given the go-ahead in February. It will see Palace House Stables - which have been left empty since 1985 - and the Trainer’s House restored to provide a new home for the town’s National Horseracing Museum, while the Palace House Mansion will be upgraded to house the collections of the British Sporting Art Trust and works from the Tate Gallery. The centre is expected to open in the second half of 2015.
• The Journal joined forces with the Newmarket Day Centre to launch an appeal to raise £35,000 to buy a new, nine-seater, specially adapted minibus for senior citizens. One of the centre’s buses, which was nearly 13 years old, needed replacing and, thanks to your donations, we reached our target. The appeal received a major boost of £17,500 from a family charitable trust, which wished to remain anonymous. Other donations included £5,000 from the Friends of Newmarket Day Centre and more than £700 from the Newmarket branch of HSBC.
• A charity rode to the rescue of Newmarket’s SOS bus, which came close to ceasing operations in April when its former operator, the town’s Community Partnership, folded due to a lack of funding. Newmarket Open Door came to the rescue of the bus, which works in association with the Town Pastors, emergency services and venue staff, to provide a safe haven, advice and medical assistance to late-night clubbers and pub-goers in difficulties.
• Newmarket businessman Dave Hudson caused a major shock when he took the Exning and Newmarket seat for UKIP in last week’s Suffolk County Council elections. He said he was “happily surprised” to have won by a majority of 133.
• Tesco and Morrisons came out winners in the race to build new supermarkets in Newmarket after a marathon four-and-a-half-hour planning meeting. District councillors voted for the stores which a retail expert had said would have the least adverse effect on trade in the town’s High Street. They rejected applications from Bill Gredley’s Unex Group for a development in High Street, and from George Lambton for a Sainsbury’s store on the George Lambton playing fields in Fordham Road.
• In June, Newmarket mourned the loss of the greatest trainer of the modern era, Sir Henry Cecil, who died at the age of 70 after a battle with cancer. Paying tribute to the racing legend, Newmarket Journal content editor Alison Hayes wrote: “Cecil’s phenomenal racing record will bear testament to his talent for decades to come, his name writ large in indelible ink across the pages of the sport, but for those of us whose love of racing has been inextricably linked with his achievements, the great sadness is that a colossus of the sport we cherish just won’t be around any more.”