Thinking Caps On…
So, what do the following words have in common? Yakahickamickadola, ARRRRR, My Wife Knows Everything, Maythehorsebewithu and Ha Ha Ha.
Did you guess? they are all legitimate racehorse names! How commentators pronounce the last one without falling in to a fit of giggles is beyond me – I still cant say Uranus in front of The Boy without a little snort. OK, OK… I know what your thinking, reign it in Cookie, we appreciate your unbridled enthusiasm but quit stalling and get to the mane event!
Sorry, I really couldn’t help it, I know my puns are a bit lame but our visit to the ‘Home of Horseracing’ was definitely not!
We were invited as guests of Discover Newmarket (Official Tour Guide and Tourist hub) to sample just one of the 14 different types of public tours they offer throughout the year and to visit Palace House, The National Heritage Centre for Horseracing and Sporting Art.
There are a number of tour options throughout the year. You could witness the thrill of the sale at Tattersalls world famous auctioneers, where thoroughbreds are sold for millions of Guineas, or go behind the scenes at a top trainers’ yard before venturing onto the gallops to get up close with the racehorses. If you like a flutter then maybe the Race Day tour is the one for you!
The National Stud is the only commercial stud farm open to the public in the UK. If you are a horse-loving family like us then this is a must visit attraction, especially at this time of year as the foals are starting to be born. They are expecting 100 this year. After you know how much it costs to, ahem, seal the deal with the mares you’ll understand why its called the ‘Sport of Kings’.
The National stud was originally founded in 1915 when Lord Wavertree donated his entire bloodstock to the British Government for breeding lightweight calvary horses, before turning there attentions to thoroughbreds. Home to some of horse racings’ legends including Sun Chariot and Mill Reef. We were treated to an audience with Time Team and was also really excited to see the famous Lancaster Bomber. I did consider seeing how far I could get, but with top Stallions worth $50 million pounds or so, I don’t think I would evade capture for very long, no matter how fast he went!
The Stallion Men
One of the best things for me about the tour was the people. Our tour guide Larry (former jockey) was an absolute hoot and had us giggling wherever we went with his jokes and quick wit. He caught me out a couple of times, god dang it! Trainers, jockeys and stable hands greeted him with much affection, none more so than Paddy ‘The Stallion Man’, I know right, great name. I think I would have at least a personalised t-shirt and hat made with such a title.
What these two don’t know about horse-racing and Newmarket is not worth knowing. We were taken to the Covering room where the ‘magic’ happens and had to hold back the tears as Larry tried to explain its function and that of the large poles that adorned the back of the room to 8 very inquisitive children all hanging off his every word. Needless to say it remained PG and there was time for a very quick Q&A before Larry eagerly ushered us to see the foals.
Museums Are Boring?
Nope, not this one, this statement couldn’t be further from the truth. Palace House which opened in 2016 by old Queeny herself (apologies Your Majesty if your reading this) is a cutting edge facility that fully immerses you in all that is great about Newmarket and racing. Interactive displays, temporary exhibitions, activity and trail books for the kids and half term craft activities meant the kids had an absolutely awesome time learning through play.
The most anticipated activity by Ruth and Sabina’s children (who had visited previously) was the Horse Simulator. Everyone donned their silks and riding hat before jumping on the racehorse which reaches speeds of up to 30mph. Wilba was ecstatic and it was hard to drag her off. Sadly I only managed a picture with my poor old knee, and then embarrassingly was put to shame by a very nimble Larry who I’m sure is lying about his age!
I Want a Horse
I know what your thinking, this is a glowing review, what didn’t you like? Honestly, not much! The tours feel exclusive, the museum is just beautiful and the price is incredibly reasonable with tours starting from just £11 (National Stud Tour) and the Family Museum Pass which covers 2 adults and up to 4 children at just £45 for a whole years’ entry. There’s something to suit every pocket.
If I had to be picky I would say the brownies in the cafe are far to delicious, which has had a negative effect on my February weight loss and George the old racehorse, who resides behind Palace house, was far to affectionate towards my children. They are both now demanding we bring him home!
A Special Treat
Because Discover Newmarket are bloomin lovely they have given me a code that’ll give you a 10% discount on the price (this does not including family tickets). Just use the code NS2019 when booking online.
For an extra special treat why not visit the museum on one of its special event nights. Coming up, British Science Week in March and already in my diary is the Museums at Night event on Thursday the 16th of May.
I would like to say a massive thank you to Megan, Jess, Larry and everybody who welcomed us to the press day, we were well look after, informed and thoroughly entertained. I had no idea that all this was available just 45 minutes drive from Norwich and we will definitely be back. The ‘Champagne Afternoon Tea and Tour’ has already caught my eye… I cant imagine why!
Disclaimer: We were invited by Discover Newmarket to be guests for the day, our lunch was provided free of charge. No payment has been received for this post. All words and opinions are my own.