On the 21 and 22 September Newmarket will be buzzing with visitors attending the annual two day Open Weekend. The event, recently renamed The Henry Cecil Open Weekend, in memory of the legendary trainer, provides a showcase for the home of racing and attracts visitors from all over the country. Furthermore, since the return of the event to Newmarket seven years ago a quarter of a million pounds has been raised for local and national racing charities.
To help you find more about these special two days we are delighted to have a Q and A with local trainer and Chairman of the Open Weekend, Charlie Fellowes.
How did you first get involved in the Newmarket Open Weekend?
I first got involved as assistant to James Fanshawe. He used to open every year and always made a huge effort for the public.
Why do you think the Open Weekend is important to Newmarket?
First and foremost it raises a huge amount for money for charities that are incredibly important to the town. It is also a fantastic way for our industry to open its doors and allow people behind the scenes. Horseracing can often be perceived to be a bit of a closed book to outsiders, and this is a great chance for us to show people that that isn’t true.
I notice the Open Weekend is now back over two days, why did you decide to return to a two day event?
We felt that the weekend worked much better when there was a day’s racing on the Saturday as it gives people and extra incentive to come to the town. It also means that things like The Racing School, Newmarket Equine Hospital, Tattersalls and Longholes can open without clashing with the yards opening on the Sunday. We want the public to have as much access to the town as possible!
What are the ticket arrangements?
Currently tickets can be purchased online via the link below.
The pricing structure is as follows:
The Henry Cecil Open Weekend Two Day Ticket Bundle 2019:
£37 per person – Includes Premier Enclosure access to the racecourse on Saturday 21st September and a Sunday wristband for all Open Weekend activities. No Saturday wristband is required. All Saturday morning Open Weekend activities are free of charge, but we ask visitors to kindly contribute a small donation on the day.
£30 per person – Includes Grandstand and Paddock Enclosure access to the racecourse on Saturday 21st September and a Sunday wristband for all Open Weekend activities. No Saturday wristband is required. All Saturday morning Open Weekend activities are free of charge, but we ask visitors to kindly contribute a small donation on the day.
£15 per person for Sunday only of when purchased in advance online or £17 on the day. Tickets will be available to purchase in all the main car parks and attractions.
£3 for a programme which includes a map and lots of information on the yards open.
U12 go free all weekend
Which charities will benefit this year?
Racing Welfare, The Racing School and The Racing Centre.
Could you give me a brief outline of what is scheduled over the two days, including start and finish times?
Saturday afternoon will have racing at the Rowley Mile racecourse where some ‘racing celebrities’ will be commentating. The NEH, The Racing School, Longholes, Peter O’Sullevan House, and Palace House, which includes the National Horse Racing Museum will all also be open to the public.
On Sunday, there will be some of the town’s equine stars cantering up Warren Hill (including Enable and Stradivarius). From 9am until 12:30pm a selection of yards will open their doors to the public. Then in the afternoon, on the Severals in the centre of town, there will be plenty of fun and games, including the Clipper Logistics show jumping (featuring many famous jockeys and trainers) as well as a dog show, and inter yard Martin Collins Pony Club Games.
How many yards do you think will be open on Sunday and when will you be announcing details of those yards?
We are hoping to have roughly 20 yards open and a full list of trainers will be circulated well before the weekend. Already confirmed to open are James Fanshawe, Ed Dunlop, Marco Botti, David Simcock, Hugo Palmer, myself and my personal favourite, Sir Mark Prescott.
As a trainer who has just moved to a new yard how do you approach the day when you have many more people visiting your stables and do you find it an exciting day where you can promote the image of the racing industry?
The Open Weekend is a great weekend and I look forward to it every year. When large numbers of people are moving between yards, you have to be particularly vigilant with hygiene but that is very straightforward. Otherwise I just encourage my team to be as welcoming and smiley as possible!!!
Where is best place to park on Sunday?
There will be a carpark on the Severals in the centre of town, just next to the BP petrol station at the top of the Bury Road. From there you can get buses to all the different areas of town.
What transport arrangements have you got on Sunday to help ticket holders move around Newmarket?
There will be buses that can move you around town very easily.
What food outlets will be available on Sunday?
Food will be available on the Severals where all of the afternoon’s activities are held.
Where is the best place to keep up to date with preparations for the two days?
Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and check out our website!
Twitter : https://twitter.com/HenryCecilWknd
We would like to thank Charlie for his help with this blog and hope you will come along and join us at The Henry Cecil Open Weekend and explore what Newmarket has to offer in addition to supporting three important racing charites.
The Warren Hill photo is courtesy of The Henry Cecil Open Weekend.
The National Stud photo is courtesy of Discover Newmarket.
Blog by Stephen Wallis, Visitor Services.