Newmarket is still regarded as the 'HQ' of British horseracing and is widely regarded as the greatest horseracing centre in the world but how did it achieve that status? The very first race took place on 18th March 1622 and was match race between a horse belonging to Lord Salisbury and a horse belonging to the Marquis of Buckingham. Buckingham's horse won, securing him a prize worth £100, which was an enormous sum at the time.
Many famous horses and jockeys have graced the Newmarket tracks. One of the most famous (but also most tragic) is Fred Archer. Born in Cheltenham on 11th January 1857, by the time he was 9 he had already become an apprentice to a Newmarket trainer. His first ever win (and also his first race) was just over 3 years later aged 13. He then went on to win 21 English Classics, 6 of which were won in Newmarket. With a total of 8,084 rides, Fred managed to amass 2,784 wins, an unrivalled strike rate of 34%. Despite this, he struggled desperately with his weight and as he grew older began taking a concoction known as 'Archer's Mixture', basically a crude and potent laxative. In 1886 following his wife's death and his own increasing illness, Archer shot himself aged just 29 years old. Over the years, there have been many reported sightings of his ghostly presence passing through the Newmarket stables.
The Jockey Club, Newmarket
The Jockey Club was originally formed in order to create rules to ensure horse racing in Newmarket was run fairly. These rules proved so successful they were eventually adopted by racecourses across the country and then internationally. Soon The Jockey Club became the official governing body of horse racing in England, and all from a leased coffee shop in the heart of Newmarket which soon became known as 'The Jockey Club Rooms'.
The Jockey Club Rooms have been at the heart of British racing for over 250 years and over time, they have had some renowned members. Indeed records show at least six Prime Ministers were also members of the Jockey Club. The Jockey Club moved to London in the 1960's, but the magnificent Jockey Club Rooms remain in a very prominent position on Newmarket's High Street.
The Present Day
Racing is still extremely popular in Newmarket; in fact, there are enough horses in the town for 1 in every 5 of Newmarket's 15,000 population to have their own horse. In addition to this, 1 in 3 people in Newmarket are employed in the world of racing and the sport remains the second most popular spectator sport in the UK.
Until recently The Jockey Club Rooms was a private members club, but now their doors are open to the public and they have built up a reputation as one of the most unique places to get married in Suffolk. Despite being situated in the heart of Newmarket, The Jockey Club's immaculate walled gardens make for a tranquil setting. For those looking for wedding venues in Suffolk steeped in history, The Jockey Club Rooms certainly has plenty.
At their Newmarket venue, they provide both civil ceremonies and wedding receptions all in the luxury of one of Suffolk's most prestigious country house venues. Even if you're not interested in horse racing it's hard not to be awed by the venues unrivalled collection of horse racing memorabilia. If you are passionate about horse racing, The Jockey Club Rooms offers the perfect opportunity for a themed wedding. You could name your tables after famous race winners; use silver wrapped chocolate horseshoes as wedding favours and make sure that you leave your wedding in a romantic horse-drawn carriage.