Newmarket is still the ultimate racing centre – and not just with the horses. In the last two days I have also seen hopes for the future when presenting the Martin Wills Young Writers Awards and the celebration of the past as a trustee of the National Racing Museum and the new heritage project at Palace House.
Pompous though it may sound, chairing the Martin Wills judging is a privilege.
For Cathal, Megan and Abby, this year’s three main winners perfectly deliver what the awards are about, to encourage bright young people to find and share something special in the racing scene. All were great but all had a touch of poignancy about them. Cathal about a failed bookie, Megan about a wasting jockey, and Abby (aged 12) a brilliant spooky fantasy of an emaciated racehorse.
Newmarket is racing’s living history all the way back to Charles II (“Old Rowley” after whom the Rowley Mile is named. So perfect that it is on the site of the original Palace stables that the new £13 m project will be. It will be much more than a museum, a learning centre in which both students and visitors can thrive, it will have a library, an art gallery, and also ex-racehorses for people to see the thoroughbred ridden and managed close up. It’s something I have spent 30 years hoping for and about which you will hear much more.
Meanwhile the anniversaries are coming up thick and fast. Tonight in Canary Wharf we celebrate 25 years of Racing Post, in Newmarket on Wednesday we had a dinner to celebrate 30 years since Bob Champion rode Aldaniti and has raised over £10 million for cancer since.
All that and the new season’s three year olds are emerging. Henry Cecil may have worried a touch after his horses ran disappointingly on Wednesday but he was bullish enough after Art History ran on to be a super second in the Wood Ditton. For all flat trainer’s this is the most exciting but most stressful time but anyone who saw the trouble he took on Wednesday morning to talk to our Martin Wills winners when they came round Warren Place would be rooting for Frankel to deliver at Newbury tomorrow.