Lucy and The Chap spend a day at Newmarket Racecourse in Suffolk, soaking up the atmosphere and having a flutter on the gee-gees.
This day out was a gift in return for a review.
It’s been a while since I last went to the races. In fact, it was around 2014, when I attended Royal Ascot on a work trip. While it was fun, my overriding memories are of spending most of the day on a coach and everyone looking très fancy.
So when Newmarket Racecourse invited me to review its Feel Good Friday event at The Premiere Enclosure, my experiences of Ascot sent me into a spin. What was I going to wear? What was the dress code? How smart did I need to be? Cue hat-related drama…
The dress code at Newmarket Racecourse
15 dresses and one hat later, and I realised that I needn’t have worried. The outfits were many and varied. We saw all sorts over the course of the day.
The outfits were many and varied
Yes, most people dressed up. And yes, many of the women were wearing beautiful hats, but no, you don’t need anything on your head. In fact, I even saw people wearing jeans and t-shirts, so you don’t need to be smart at all.
One of the main highlights for me was the outfits though. I love seeing what everyone else is wearing. It’s so rare to get dressed up these days that it was fun to covet other women’s dresses! We spent at least an hour sipping champagne at the Solera bar watching the frocks go by.
The atmosphere at the races
The real highlight for us both was the atmosphere. Newmarket Racecourse was buzzing all afternoon and everyone was super-friendly. I’d recommend spending a day here on that basis alone.
Over the course of the event, we spoke to a few people about their experiences and why they had chosen to come. Some people, like us, had never been to Newmarket Races before and wanted the experience. Others were equestrian professionals or race aficionados who were happy to pass on a few tips. Some had even come from the other side of the country to celebrate a special occasion with loved ones. There was a real mix of people enjoying a day at the races.
It was slightly different at the finishing post but no less fun. Admittance to The Premiere Enclosure allowed us to stand right at the end of the July Course, where the atmosphere was electric. Over the course of a mile, the tension really builds among the crowds, with everyone cheering on their chosen horse, willing it on.
Although neither of us had any luck on our respective flutters, it was great fun to be part of that excitement and feel the suspense. It was most enjoyable.
As part of the Feel Good Friday event, when the final race ended around 6pm the musical entertainment began. A DJ set up near the bars and played some absolutely brilliant tunes. There was modern pop, 90s dance, 00s indie and more. Everyone was up and dancing in the early evening sunshine, making the most of being outside.
No one was too drunk either. As the designated driver (and blogger) I was pleased that no one was sloshed and stumbling about. I only wish I’d packed a pair of flats in my handbag so I could make the most of it.
Dining at Newmarket Racecourse
I wasn’t sure what to expect from the food and drink at Newmarket, to be honest. My memory of Ascot was that it was prohibitively expensive, so I was a little apprehensive when we arrived.
Thankfully Newmarket Racecourse was fantastic for food. Not only were there lots of different options, but they were all reasonably priced too. From food trucks to sit-down restaurants, we had lots to choose from.
As a recent convert to pescatarianism, I discovered I could dine almost everywhere too. Although there was a Smokehouse and a duck van, I enjoyed a healthy buddha bowl with halloumi (£7) from Field Kitchen for lunch, before sharing cod and chips (£9) from the Fish & Chip concession and a stonebaked Margherita (£9) from Amo La Pizza for dinner. The Chap also had a Philly cheese steak sandwich from Smoke House (£8).
It was all high quality and delicious, but the pizza stood out for us both. The base was thin and crispy, while the tomato sauce was zingy and complex. We have to give them a shout-out for Amo La Pizza for serving us while they were closing up too. The didn’t need to, but they chatted to us at length about their techniques and ingredients while they did it. Like I said, everyone is really friendly.
If there was one, tiny weeny disappointment it was the lack of cake. Because I wasn’t drinking, I hunted high and low for a sweet treat to enjoy but couldn’t find a slice of Victoria sponge anywhere. I suppose I shouldn’t complain too much; my waistline thanked me afterwards!
Getting to Newmarket Racecourse
It took us nearly two hours to get to Newmarket from Norwich, largely because of the (stupid) new traffic lights at Fiveways Roundabout in Suffolk. The traffic queued back for a mile or so at midday on Friday. Ridiculous. If you’re heading that way, be sure to factor in a bit of extra time.
Read more: Holkham Hall
Other than that, it was smooth sailing down the A11. I’d only recommend having your satnav switched on for the last few miles. Newmarket is confusing and there weren’t very many signposts coming from our direction.
It’s worth noting that there’s loads of parking on site. Even though the racing was underway when we arrived, we had no trouble getting a spot near the entrance.
And finally: Children are very welcome at Newmarket Racecourse. In fact, youngsters under 18 can enter for free (except for Newmarket Nights and Summer Saturdays), so it’s a great, reasonably priced day out for the whole family.
Upcoming events at Newmarket Racecourse
Future events at the racecourse include:
- Summer Saturday: Gin & Fizz Raceday: 20th July
- Summer Saturday: Peaky Blinders Raceday: 3rd August
- Dubai Future Champions Festival: 11th – 12th October