17:41 Tuesday 23rd February 2016
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire
CHRIS MANN: Newmarket and The Jockey Club today launched a year-long party to celebrate their 350th birthday by inviting every single resident of Cambridgeshire and Suffolk with the chance to go racing for free. Charles II established organised racing in the town back in 1666, and a new statue of the monarch is one of the features of the celebrations. Jockey Club East boss Amy Starkey told me more earlier.
AMY STARKEY: A really big year, 2016, for Newmarket Racecourse and indeed the town of Newmarket, 350 years of making history. So back in 1666 King Charles II returned to Newmarket for the first time since he was a boy. He moved the Royal court here. 1666 really signified the change for Newmarket, and almost the evolution of Newmarket as being the town that we know and love today, the global headquarters of racing, and an opportunity to unite the town around a celebration of 350 years of making history.
CHRIS MANN: it’s a long time of continuing pre-eminence in one sport, isn’t it? And I think one of the nicest things is that you’re starting off by inviting everybody from the area to come and race for free.
AMY STARKEY: Newmarket is so unique and famous the world over. Whether it be Newmarket the first to stage organised race meetings, to the first trainer, to the first set of racing colours, to the first photo finish, to the first racecourse to have starting stalls, there is so much that’s happened over our 350 year period. And we want to shout that from the rooftops, and we want everybody to feel as though they’re part of this. The Rowley Mile sits in Suffolk. The July Course sits in Cambridgeshire. And at our new three day Craven Meeting which starts on Tuesday 12th April we want to offer everybody who lives in Suffolk and Cambridgeshire the opportunity to come racing with us for free.
CHRIS MANN: That’s a very generous offer of course, and a lot of people might try it who’ve not been to racing before. You’ve got another offer, which is for all residents of the CB8 postcode.
AMY STARKEY: Yes. Anybody that lives in Newmarket and has a CB8 postcode, as well as free racing, will be offered the opportunity to have a Discover Newmarket tour. So the first 350 people who register for a free Discover Newmarket tour will be given the opportunity to see maybe a glimpse of their town that they haven’t had before. We’re proud to be in Newmarket, and anybody that hasn’t had that opportunity to either come racing or see behind the scenes of racing before, this is a unique opportunity to do that.
CHRIS MANN: So a fantastic royal connection, going back as you say 350 years since Charles II came here. We’re talking right now in the Jockey Club rooms right in the middle of Newmarket, and on the wall over there is the Royal Charter, which gives you the right, the Jockey Club the right, to run racing worldwide. There are pictures of kings and queens through the ages on the walls, the current Queen just down the hall there. So a fantastic royal connection, and you’re building on that this year in a variety of ways.
AMY STARKEY: The Jockey Club has such a rich history here in Newmarket. We’re celebrating 350 years of Newmarket making history with King Charles II returning to Newmarket in 1666. The Jockey Club itself established themselves in Newmarket in this very room in 1752, and sitting here and working for the Jockey Club, I might not be in the typical mould of the Jockey Club, but what I love is that I love horse racing, I love living in Newmarket, and everything that the Jockey Club does in Newmarket, whether that be running the racecourses or running the training grounds, everything we do is for the good of the sport. Every penny we make is re-invested back into the sport.
CHRIS MANN: Amy Starkey of The Jockey Club. And you can find out more on a new website launched today, www.weare350.co.uk