One of the high points of the entire flat season, Newmarket’s Moet & Chandon July Festival is three days of the highest calibre of racing.
But coming a couple of weeks after Royal Ascot, the meeting continues the theme of fun, fashion and social occasion.
Amy Starkey, Director for the Jockey Club East, looks ahead to this exciting meeting.
What dates does the Moët & Chandon July Festival take place this year?
We are all very excited for this year’s Moët & Chandon July Festival, which begins on Thursday, 11th July and concludes on Saturday, 13th July with the Group 1 Darley July Cup.
Are there any changes to the big race order?
Working with ITV Racing, who are broadcasting on their main channel on the Saturday, we have made some alterations to that day’s card. While no races have switched days, the Darley July Cup, which was the third race of the day last year, is the penultimate race of the seven this time. The bet365 Superlative Stakes and bet365 Bunbury Cup move to the middle of the card, the third and fourth races respectively, with the day opening up with the Rossdales British EBF Maiden Fillies’ Stakes over seven furlongs.
There are one other significant change to note. This year sees the introduction of the bet365 Trophy, which replaces the Silver Bunbury and will open the second day of racing. Worth £120,000, the race is a Class 2 handicap over 1m6f open to horses aged four years and up. It represents a fantastic opportunity for stayers at a key time of the year and we’re exciting to be able to support such horses. We’re also grateful to bet365 for their support.
Tell me about the Tattersalls sponsorship and any other new sponsorships taking place
We were delighted to be able to agree a new three-year deal with Tattersalls earlier this year that not only continued their association with the Group 1 Falmouth Stakes, Group 3 Tattersalls Stakes and October Auction Stakes but added the Tattersalls July Stakes and Princess Of Wales’s Tattersalls Stakes to their portfolio.
Tattersalls is Europe’s leading thoroughbred auction house, we’re proud to call them our neighbours and I am excited about working with them during the coming years.
We are grateful too to all of our sponsors throughout the Moët & Chandon July Festival.
How many people came to the July Festival in 2018?
Almost 37,000 racegoers flocked to the July Course during the three days of the festival last year, which was ever so slightly down on previous years. Many racecourses in Britain found it a struggle to get people to go racing last summer, thanks in no small part to England’s remarkable progress to the World Cup semi-finals and the extraordinarily high temperatures but our team did an amazing job and put on an event that did the meeting’s history and tradition proud.
Are there any figures for what this does for the local economy?
Like all of our major events, the Moët & Chandon July Festival is an important contributor to the local economy. From bookings at hotels and restaurants in the town and those surrounding it, through to people buying their outfits from some of the high street’s fine fashion outlets and making use of trains and taxis to get here, it is a responsibility we take seriously.
Everybody who works at the racecourse knows that the three days present a fabulous opportunity to show our town at its best, which in turn encourages visitors to come again later in the season and in years to come.
Aside from the racing, there is always plenty going on at the July Course. What are the main highlights planned for 2019 in terms of fashion, competitions, education?
The July Course has become synonymous with world-class entertainment and we have some fantastic artists set to grace the stage this year. Pete Tong & The Heritage Orchestra will bring that summer vibe with their unique take on Ibiza classics, while chart toppers Rudimental and Years & Years are sure to be a big hit. With favourites like Madness also returning for another year, there is something for everyone as far as our Newmarket Nights and Summer Saturday Live events go.
Our Summer Saturdays should prove popular once again, with some great themes to get racegoers in the mood, including a Gin & Fizz Raceday and our School’s Out For Summer Raceday, which will be perfect for all the family. Full details of all of our racedays throughout the summer can be found at www.thejockeyclub.co.uk/newmarket/events-tickets.
At the Moët & Chandon July Festival, we’re exciting to be hosting The Style Awards once again. With a fresh new look, we’re confident racegoers will be inspired to throw everything at their outfits this year to win prizes from partners including Porsche, Midsummer House Restaurant and Penhalligon’s. The Best Dressed Lady competition kicks things off on Thursday 11th July, before we crown the Best Dressed Gentleman the following day and conclude with the Best Dressed Couple. For the first time, there is also a Milliners’ Award, looking for the best headpieces on the opening day which is, of course, Ladies’ Day.
In terms of education, we have the Godolphin Under Starter’s Orders Education Programme, a partnership between the racecourse, Godolphin and the National Horseracing Museum at Palace House, with events managed and delivered by Racing To School. More than 200 pupils from eight local primary schools were signed up to the programme in 2018.
Each school is given the opportunity to visit Dalham Hall Stud, before a rare opportunity to tour the July Course. A record 209 young people descended on the track in 2018, each wearing their own set of silks.
Given the time of year, the weather, the activities, how important is the July Festival as a medium for attracting new racegoers?
There are few places in world racing to rival the July Course as a place to watch our great sport. The place oozes with history and tradition and our grounds staff do such a wonderful job every year of making it look sensational. There are, for example, more than 20,000 plants across the site, with the colour theme each year designed to make it sing. This year’s theme is pastel shades, so keep an eye out for that!
A big part of the offering at the course, and something I believe is key to bringing people into our sport, is the proximity to the horses that racegoers can enjoy. From the stunning pre-parade ring and parade ring, through to the views offered from the stands-side rail, visitors can hardly be closer to these magnificent animals and as many of us know, that is the key to falling in love with racing.
Where can people find out more about the Festival and bookings?
Our website has everything you need to know about timings, tickets and hospitality packages on offer, while tickets are also available online or over the phone, by calling 0344 579 3010. For group bookings, call 01638 675 500 and select option four.
There are a hosts of fantastic events at the July Course throughout the summer, not least our Newmarket Nights concerts, featuring some of the biggest names in music, including Madness, Kaiser Chiefs, Rudimental and Years & Years.