Newmarket's votes could make Larry a tour guide superstar
A Newmarket tour guide has been shortlisted by VisitEngland for their national Tourism Superstar 2019 Award.
Former jockey Larry Bowden, 67, who works for Discover Newmarket, is one of just 10 guides at tourist attractions across the country who are in contention for the prestigious award, which is given to an individual who goes above and beyond the call of duty to ensure visitors to England have an unforgettable experience.
And that is exactly what Larry aims to give people who book up for one of his trips around Newmarket’s famous racing landmarks.
“At the end of a tour what I most want to hear people saying is that they enjoyed it and they learnt something new,” said Larry. “That means more to me than anything. If I hear someone say ‘I didn’t know that’ I feel that I’ve done my job”.
Larry, who is renowned among his colleagues as being a practical joker, did not believe it when he was told he had been nominated by Discover Newmarket for the award.
“I thought it was someone getting their own back on me. But once I knew it was true I was shocked and honoured,” he said.
The winner is decided by online votes, so he is hoping as many people as possible will vote for him.
“It’s not for me and it’s not for Discover Newmarket. It’s for the whole of Newmarket. which is a wonderful place with so much to offer visitors,”said Larry.
His interest in racing was sparked as a small boy when he would ‘ride’ the Grand National winner home astride the arm of an armchair.
He said he never wanted to do anything but go into racing and his dream came true when he was apprenticed at 15 to Paul Davey and later to Michael Jarvis, both of whom trained privately for TV rental tycoon David Robinson.
A stint in Italy was followed by a few years riding over jumps for National Hunt trainer Fred Rimell. He rode 25 winners over fences and hurdles until an accident put paid to riding altogether and he went into stud work, ending up as yearling manager at the National Stud.
Now in his fifth year as a guide with Discover Newmarket, Larry delights visitors with his knowledge of the world of racing and breeding and the history of the town – the latter self-taught by a lot of reading and with the help of YouTube.
“It was the one area where I had to learn it myself before I could tell other people about it and now I think I have the knowledge to hold my own,” he said.
Discover Newmarket manager Megan Pollexfen said: “Larry’s nomination is richly deserved and we hope the town, the wider Suffolk area and the horseracing community rally behind us.”