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Thursday, March 2, 2006


ENTRIES NOW ACCEPTED FOR THE 2006 GODOLPHIN SEVEN STARS COMPETITION


The Godolphin Seven Stars - the world's greatest free-to-enter on-line competition - is now open for entries at www.godolphin.com

As might be expected from a competition backed by the world's first truly international racing stable, the Godolphin Seven Stars Competition spans the globe - last year entrants from over 150 countries took part.


Don't miss out on the chance to win some amazing cash prizes - plus the chance of a luxury, first-class trip with Emirates Airline to see the world's richest race, the Dubai World Cup, and to stay in one of the world's most prestigious hotels, the seven-star Burj Al Arab.


Last year's winner was Alberto Ribeiro from Uruguay. He is now looking forward to attending the US$6 million Dubai World Cup, sponsored by Emirates Airline, on March 25th.

The remaining prize winners last year came from Norway, Japan, Venezuela and the United Arab Emirates. Other countries represented on the Seven Stars roll of honour in previous years include Australia, France, the United Kingdom and the USA.


This year's prizes are:

1st : US$100,000, plus two first-class return air tickets with Emirates Airline to Dubai and seven nights at the Burj Al Arab Hotel.


2nd : US$50,000
3rd : US$30,000
4th : US$15,000
5th : US$5,000

It couldn't be easier to enter - just pick seven Godolphin horses for the 2006 season.

Horses will earn points according to their performances on racetracks around the world, giving entrants the chance to win one of the amazing Seven Stars prizes.

Check out the form of the horses in training with Godolphin at www.godolphin.com before selecting one horse from each of the seven barns.


Racing novices can let the computer make the selections - use the Lucky Dip entry form.


Entry to the Godolphin Seven Stars is free. Competition rules stipulate that only one list of seven per person will be accepted.


Whenever one of a person's seven horses is declared to run during the period of the competition - from March 25th to December 10th - Godolphin will send an e-mail to say that it is running.

Entrants can visit the Godolphin website at any time to see how they are doing in the race for the US$100,000 first prize.


In the event of a tie, the entry which was made first will win the prize so it could pay to enter early.

The 2006 Godolphin Seven Stars Competition is open for entries until 11.59 pm (Dubai time) on Friday, March 24.


MASSIVE BOOST TO DARLEY JULY CUP PRIZE MONEY


"There has never been such an alluring pot of gold for sprinters to aim at in Europe"

Thanks to a 44% prize money increase, the Darley July Cup (Group 1), to be run on Newmarket's July Course on Friday 14th July, will remain the most valuable sprint race in Europe in 2006 and will for the first time become the richest race run at Newmarket. It was announced today that the six-furlong contest, which year after year highlights Europe's champion sprinter, will have a total prize fund of £360,000 (up from £250,000 last year).


Michael Prosser, Newmarket's Clerk of the Course, said: "With its ideal mid-July slot in the racing calendar, the Darley July Cup is long established as Europe's premier sprint race and both we and our long-standing sponsor, Darley, felt it was important for the race's value to continue to reflect the status that it has earned over many years. Ascot have made a big increase to the value of the Golden Jubilee Stakes this year, so we are extremely grateful to Darley for investing in the race with us to keep the Darley July Cup at the top of the European pile.


"With the Darley July Cup coming 20 days after the Golden Jubilee, the two races make a fantastic, dual Group One target not only for Europe's top sprinters, but for star sprinters from all over the world, as the Australian champion, Choisir, proved with his valiant attempt to win both races three years ago. With over £700,000 - or some 1.25 million US dollars - in combined prize money now on offer for the two races, there has never been such an alluring pot of gold for sprinters to aim at in Europe."

Full speeches below.


Europe's Most Valuable Sprint Races (for three-year-olds and up)

Race name Venue Distance 2006 Prize Money

Darley July Cup (Group 1) Newmarket 6f £360,000
Golden Jubilee Stakes (Group 1) Ascot 6f £350,000
Betfred Sprint Cup (Group 1) Haydock 6f £225,000
VC Bet Nunthorpe Stakes (Group 1) York 5f £220,000
King's Stand Stakes (Group 2) Ascot 5f £200,000
Prix Maurice de Gheest (Group 1) Deauville 6.5f £172,414
Prix de l'Abbaye (Group 1) Longchamp 5f £172,414

The Darley July Cup - Europe's Sprint Championship

Since the World Rankings (formerly International Classifications) first began in 1977, there have been 29 runnings of the Darley July Cup and no less than 22 of the winners in that time have been crowned champion European sprinter (either outright or joint), with the other seven all being of the highest quality. Time and again the Darley July Cup has proved to be Europe's sprint championship.


Year Winner Rating
2005 PASTORAL PURSUITS 118 (joint with Whipper)
2004 Frizzante 113 (4th; Somnus & Var top-rated on 117)
2003 OASIS DREAM 125
2002 Continent 117 (3rd; Kyllachy top-rated on 119)
2001 MOZART 125
2000 Agnes World 119 (3rd; Namid top-rated on 127)
1999 STRAVINSKY 127
1998 ELNADIM 121
1997 COMPTON PLACE 121 (joint with Elnadim & Royal Applause)
1996 ANABAA 127
1995 LAKE CONISTON 127
1994 OWINGTON 124 (joint with Bigstone)
1993 Hamas 120 (3rd; Wolfhound top-rated on 125)
1992 Mr Brooks 121 (joint 3rd; Sheikh Albadou top-rated on 127)
1991 POLISH PATRIOT 126
1990 Royal Academy 129 (2nd; Dayjur top-rated on 133)
1989 CADEAUX GENEREUX 124
1988 SOVIET STAR 125
1987 AJDAL 127
1986 Green Desert 122 (4th; Last Tycoon top-rated on 126)
1985 NEVER SO BOLD 130
1984 CHIEF SINGER 132
1983 HABIBTI 131
1982 SHARPO 128
1981 MARWELL 130 (joint with Sharpo)
1980 MOORESTYLE 131
1979 THATCHING 132
1978 SOLINUS 128 (joint with King Of Macedon)
1977 GENTILHOMBRE 133


Intercontinental Darley July Cup Challengers 2000-2005

2005
*KEENELAND SWAN Japan 12th

2004
*CAPE OF GOOD HOPE Hong Kong 4th
SEEKING THE DIA Japan 12th
EXCEED AND EXCEL Australia 19th

2003
*CHOISIR Australia 2nd

2000
AGNES WORLD Japan 1st (first Japanese G1 victory in UK)

* ran in Golden Jubilee Stakes prior to Darley July Cup


DARLEY JULY CUP WILL BE CLIMAX TO NEW-LOOK JULY FESTIVAL

Prize money almost doubled in five years

The "July Festival" is the new name for Newmarket's scintillating midsummer racing highlight, formerly called the "July Meeting", which this year runs from Wednesday 12th to Friday 14th July, having moved back by one day from its old Tuesday-Thursday slot. It was announced today that total prize money for the three days is set to hit a record £1.28m this year, up by 17% (per cent) on last year and almost double the £665,000 that was on offer just 5 years ago.

Ladies' Day, featuring the £200,000 UAE Equestrian & Racing Federation Falmouth Stakes which was upgraded to Group 1 status three years ago, will open up proceedings on Wednesday 12th July, with the £70,000 Chippenham Lodge Stud Cherry Hinton Stakes (Group 2) also featuring on the card. The day's big betting race is the totesport Handicap, which has proved itself to be a red-hot contest in recent years and was won last year by the immensely impressive Tax Free. Its value increases from £60,000 to £85,000, making it the most valuable handicap of the meeting.


On Thursday 13th, the £90,000 Princess of Wales's WBX Stakes (Group 2) takes centre stage together with the £70,000 TNT July Stakes (Group 2) and the £50,000 Joss Collins Heritage Handicap, with a spectacular classical concert sponsored by Classic FM to follow after the last.


The meeting will climax with Europe's premier sprint race, the £360,000 Darley July Cup (Group 1), headlining the card on Friday 14th July, which also features the £70,000 Weatherbys Superlative Stakes, upgraded this year from Group 3 to Group 2 status, and the £70,000 Ladbrokes Bunbury Cup.


As a result of the upgrading to the Weatherbys Superlative Stakes, the July Festival can now boast two Group 1 races and four Group 2s.


Lisa Hancock, Managing Director of Newmarket Racecourses, commented: "The July Festival has been transformed over the last five years with huge increases to prize money and significant upgrades throughout the whole three day race programme. Gone are the days of several low class handicaps and a seller. The racing on these three days is now on a par with Glorious Goodwood or York's Ebor Meeting and, with the popularity of Ladies' Day continuing to soar and the classical concert after racing on the middle day having worked so well last year, it is now about much more than just the racing. We feel that the "Festival" tag is entirely appropriate and better describes what the event is all about.


"The date change has come about mainly because of a request from Channel 4, but it made a great deal of sense from other points of view as well. Terrestrial television coverage remains a very important element both for our big race sponsors and for the boost that it gives to off course betting turnover, which obviously ultimately funds the lion's share of our sport. It was very important to us to keep all three days on Channel 4 if possible.

"At the same time, research shows that more people are likely to come racing on a Friday than earlier in the week, with the attraction of taking a long weekend clearly very strong. Darley July Cup Day has been the race programme which has seen the smallest attendance growth of the three days and we hope that the move to a Friday will give it a boost."

Full speeches below.


July Festival Total Prize Money

2006 2005 2001
Wednesday 12th July £422k £393k £170k
Thursday 13th July £280k £278k £197k
Friday 14th July £577k £423k £298k
TOTAL £1279k £1094k £665k


2006 July Festival Race Programme

Wednesday 12th July
Handicap £18,000 8f
totesport Handicap £85,000 6f
Chippenham Lodge Stud Cherry Hinton Stakes (Group 2) £70,000 6f
UAE Equestrian & Racing Federation Falmouth Stakes (Group 1) £200,000 8f
Strutt & Parker EBF Maiden Stakes £12,000 7f
racingpost.co.uk Fillies EBF Handicap £25,000 7f
Maiden Stakes £12,000 10f

Thursday 13th July
Bahrain Trophy (Listed) £28,000 13f
TNT July Stakes (Group 2) £70,000 6f
Joss Collins Heritage Handicap £50,000 10f
Princess of Wales's WBX Stakes (Group 2) £90,000 12f
Capanelle Racecourse EBF Novice Stakes £15,000 6f
Handicap £15,000 16f
Classic FM Handicap £12,500 5f

Friday 14th July
Curtis Medical Handicap £30,000 8f
Weatherbys Superlative Stakes (Group 2) £70,000 7f
Ladbrokes Bunbury Cup (Handicap) £70,000 7f
Darley July Cup (Group 1) £360,000 6f
Heathavon Stud EBF Maiden Fillies Stakes £12,000 6f
Edmondson Hall Nursery £20,000 7f
Handicap £15,000 12f


FASHION TO BECOME A THREE-DAY FEATURE
Jaeger extend their July Festival association

Racegoers will be encouraged to dress up on all three days of the July Festival, instead of just the opening Ladies' Day. As well as extensive prizes for the Best Dressed Ladies on Wednesday, for the first time this year there will be prizes for the Best Hats on Thursday and for the Best Dressed Couples on Friday. Jaeger will be providing thousands of pounds worth of outfits for the lucky winners.


Ladies' Day was only introduced in 2000, but its popularity has grown significantly year on year since then and last year the Members' Enclosure sold out in advance on this day for the first time ever.

"We want to encourage people to dress up on all three days to keep fashion as a key theme throughout all three days of the July Festival," commented Marketing Manager, Gaynor Haxby.

"The atmosphere on Ladies' Day was tremendous last year and we would love to see that extend to the whole meeting with the message that 'there's only one July Festival, but three days to enjoy it.'

"We are delighted to have such a wonderful brand as Jaeger involved at the Festival. The fashion competitions over the three days are intended to be fun elements, adding to the overall atmosphere and interest of the day without detracting from the enjoyment of those who prefer to focus on the top class racing."


HAYLEY WESTENRA TO STAR IN CLASSIC FM CONCERT

The multiple award-winning New Zealand singing sensation, Hayley Westenra, will be the star of the Classic FM concert which will follow the last race on Thursday 13th July, the middle day of the July Festival at Newmarket.

The 18-year-old shot to fame at the age of just 15 when she made her international debut with the launch of her album, Pure, in 2003. Characterised by its breath-taking natural beauty, her voice enabled Pure to reach some notable landmarks. The album, which has sold two million copies to date, topped the UK classical charts and also went Top Ten in the pop equivalent. In her homeland, it is the biggest-selling New Zealand album of all time. In Japan - where Hayley enjoyed a No. 1 single with Amazing Grace - she was the most popular classical artist of 2004 and won two Japanese Grammies.

She has performed in front of presidents, prime ministers and royalty, has duetted with Andrea Bocelli, José Carreras, Bryn Terfel and Russell Watson, and has sung live at many prestigious sporting events in the UK, USA, New Zealand and Australia.


In Westenra's new album, Odyssey, her exceptional voice retains its crystal-clear purity, but her singing is now richer and more rounded than before. Touring the world and singing in some of its greatest concert venues, such as the Sydney Opera House, Royal Albert Hall and Carnegie Hall, has worked wonders for her confidence. Suitably emboldened, she has embraced an even wider range of musical styles including classical, hymns, folk and pop.


"Following a sensational inaugural Classic FM concert by Katherine Jenkins at last summer's July Festival, we are thrilled that Hayley Westenra will be the star of this year's event," enthused Lisa Hancock. "I think she will stun a lot of people who may not have heard her amazing voice before."

Tickets can be booked for all three days of the 2006 July Festival, with substantial advance booking discounts on offer. Visit www.newmarketracecourses.co.uk or call 01638 675 500.


JULY FESTIVAL VISION
"A celebration of summer that the whole community can participate in"

Newmarket Racecourses will be aiming to sow the seeds this year for the July Festival to become a focal summer event for the whole of the Newmarket area. A committee will be set up to take the project forward and both Forest Heath District Council and Newmarket Town Council have expressed their enthusiasm for the concept.

"The idea is in its infancy and it will take time to achieve, but in a few years I would love to see a whole programme of events taking place during July Festival week in the town of Newmarket and in the surrounding areas, as often happens with racing festivals overseas," said Lisa Hancock, Newmarket's Managing Director.

"Our initial ideas include a fashion show and an art exhibition on the Rowley Mile; open-air theatre on the Heath; a Real Ale festival in the town's pubs; bands playing in some of the pubs; small exhibitions, string quartets and cocktail parties in local hotels; something special at the National Horseracing Museum and the National Stud; July Festival displays in shop windows; a funfair for the children. Entertainment, culture and a celebration of summer that the whole community can participate in - that's our vision for the future.


"Inevitably it will take time to develop, but I believe that if people are enthusiastic about the idea, within three or four years we could have helped to build July Festival week into something that encompasses a lot more than what will be taking place on the July Course itself."


JULY COURSE REDEVELOPMENT UPDATE
"Business as usual on the July Course this season"

Following major below the ground work to upgrading essential services (electricity, water, sewage) to the July Course last year, the next phase of the renovation of the July Course is now well under way.

The roofs of the three main Grandstands are currently being replaced and preliminary work on the realignment of the road at the back of the stands is now under way. The latter will add almost one acre to the July Course site, creating more space for the complete rebuilding of the facilities behind the stands in the Members and Grandstand Enclosures which will take place next winter at a total cost of almost £9m in time for the start of the 2007 season.


"It will be business as usual on the July Course this season, but everyone can look forward in anticipation of what I hope will be a hugely popular transformation come June 2007," explained Lisa Hancock.



JULY FESTIVAL PRESS LAUNCH (Thursday, March 2, 2006)

SPEECHES

LISA HANCOCK

Good morning everyone and thank you very much for coming here today. I would like to extend a particular welcome to two special guests - James Fanshawe and Robin Millar. James, who has dominated the Group 1 races at the July Festival in the last two years thanks to Soviet Song and Frizzante, has very kindly taken time out from his Pegasus Stables to be here, while Robin will be known to many of you as a local councillor and former Mayor who has done so much to fight Newmarket's corner and take the town forward in recent years. He is currently Chairman of the Home of Horseracing working group. Many thanks to both of you for sparing the time to come along today.


I would also like to introduce Lorna Bradburne, whom most if not all of you will know. A very accomplished jockey, Lorna now works for Turftrax, who operate the excellent speed sensing and going information service on the Rowley Mile and July Course and at other courses around the country, and she is going to be the new voice of Newmarket on our major racedays, introducing trophy presentations and interviewing winning connections amongst other things.


It may lie only a mile or so from here, over the other side of the Devil's Dyke, yet the July Course is so vastly different in almost every respect from the Rowley Mile. Therein lies its enduring charm. Racing officienados prefer the Rowley Mile because of the sheer quality of the racing here - this is the real McCoy in that respect, the true home of racing - but for pure entertainment and ambiance, it would be hard to compete with the wonderful experience of a warm summer's afternoon or evening on the July Course.


What is all too apparent, however, is that the July Course has had only minimal investment made in its infrastructure and facilities for many years, while the Rowley Mile was, of course, completely redeveloped in the late nineties. In a year's time that will be rectified and I will come on to our updated plans for the July Course redevelopment in a little while.


The main focus of today is on our premier July Course fixture, which we are rebranding this year as the "July Festival". Now I know that racing people do not always readily embrace change, especially when it comes to long established fixtures, and in this instance not only have we changed the name, but also the dates. There is, however, sound thinking behind both decisions.


To deal with the date change first, it will now run Wednesday to Friday instead of the traditional Tuesday to Thursday. We have made this change following a request from Channel 4 and, whilst we are not always bound to accede to their requests, on this occasion there were good grounds for doing so.

Market research shows that people are much more likely to go racing on a Friday than any other weekday, the attractions of taking a long weekend clearly very strong. Darley July Cup Day has, perhaps somewhat surprisingly, been the day showing the smallest attendance growth of the three in the last few years, so we hope very much that it will benefit considerably from moving to the Friday.

When you add in the importance both to sponsors and to off-course betting turnover of having races on terrestrial television, we have no doubt that we have made the right decision to change the dates.

From the name point of view, "Festival" may already be well used in racing parlance - the big one is, of course, coming up at Cheltenham in a couple of weeks - but in the right context it does convey very effectively that the race meeting in question really is something special. Its previous name, the July Meeting, did not convey this, especially to those without an intimate knowledge of the sport. With consumers having ever more choice when it comes to spending their leisure time, racing has to appeal to as wide an audience as possible and calling our summer highlight the "July Festival" can only help. With the growth of Ladies' Day and the success of the classical concert that we staged after racing on the middle day for the first time last year, the July Festival is already about more than just the racing. Conveying this in the name was vital.

To be a genuine "Festival" in racing terms, it is essential that the quality of the racing is top class and at this point I am going to hand over to our Clerk of the Course, Michael Prosser, to talk you through the exciting news on the prize money and race programme at this year's July Festival.



MICHAEL PROSSER

Good morning everyone. The big news this morning from a racing point of view is that the Darley July Cup will remain Europe's most valuable Group 1 sprint despite the big increase to the value of the Golden Jubilee Stakes at the Royal Meeting which Ascot announced three months ago. Last year the Darley July Cup was worth £250,000; this year it has gone up by 44%, the biggest single increase in the value of a big race at Newmarket that there has probably ever been, to a total of £360,000. It is now, for the first time, the most valuable race in Newmarket's season. As you can see from the table of Europe's most valuable sprints for three-year-olds and up, we are just ahead of the Golden Jubilee and well clear of everything else in Europe, including more than twice as valuable as the two big French sprint races.


The Darley July Cup has long been the championship sprint in Europe and you can see from the next table just how often our race has been won by the highest rated sprinter in Europe that season. Since the international classifications were introduced in 1977, there have been 27 runnings of the Darley July Cup and the horse ultimately rated as the champion sprinter has won it on 22 occasions as shown by the horse names in capital letters in the table.

To maintain its glittering reputation, it is important that it keeps pace in prize money terms if at all possible. From this point of view we are hugely grateful to the race's long-standing sponsor, Darley, for helping to fund this very significant increase.


We have attracted runners from Japan, Australia and Hong Kong over the last 6 years, as you can see on the next table, not to mention several challengers from France and Ireland. Agnes World won the Darley July Cup in 2000, the first Group 1 victory for a Japanese-trained horse in Europe and still the only one in Britain.

Ascot are to be commended in their efforts to bring the world's top sprinters to Royal Ascot, where the Golden Jubilee Stakes and King's Stand Stakes form part of the Global Sprint Challenge. Our message to the connections of the world's top sprinters is that if you come over for Ascot in June, then it is a must to stay on for Newmarket in July to try to win the most valuable and most prestigious sprint of them all in Europe.

The gap between the Golden Jubilee and the Darley July Cup, both of which are run over a straight, undulating six furlongs, is an ideal 20 days and with the two races combined now worth a massive £710,000, there has never been such a fantastic pot of gold for sprinters to aim at on this continent. Choisir, the brilliant Australian sprinter, almost won both races in 2003, taking the Golden Jubilee and only narrowly failing against Oasis Dream, subsequently crowned Europe's champion sprinter, here in the Darley July Cup.


The Darley July Cup may be the racing highlight of the July Festival, but it is by no means a one-race programme. Back in 2001, Lisa's and my first season here, it wasn't far off being that. Then the Darley July Cup was the only Group 1 race over the three days. The supporting Group Two's and Three's had limited sparkle, there were several weak handicaps and amazingly there was even a selling race, which may have generated a certain amount of interest but was hardly an advertisement for quality!

Of all the improvements which we have tried to make to our racing programme since then, the transformation of the July Festival is the one which excites me the most. If you compare this year to 2001, prize money will have all but doubled in that time, from £665,000 then to £1.28 million this year. Overall, this year's prize money is 17% up on last year.

The selling race is long gone, there are no more weak handicaps and we now have two Group 1 races thanks to the upgrading in 2004 of the UAE Equestrian and Racing Federation Falmouth Stakes. We have another Pattern race upgrade this year, with the Weatherbys Superlative Stakes, which was just a Listed Race back in 2001, now elevated to Group 2 status. We now have two Group 1's and four Group 2's at this meeting, plus top class handicaps in the £70,000 Ladbrokes Bunbury Cup, the £50,000 Joss Collins Heritage Handicap and the race that now eclipses both of these in value, the totesport Handicap on the first day, won last year by the hugely impressive Tax Free. It has gone up from £60,000 last year to £85,000 this, a reflection on just how hot a race it has proved to be.


We haven't just improved the quality, but also the quantity and overall competitiveness. In 2001 there were a total of 227 runners over the three days; last year we had 290. Indeed on the first day we had maximum fields of 20 declared for five of the races, all bar the two Pattern races. It really was fantastically competitive racing.


At last I feel I can confidently say that the July Festival's race programme compares very well with Glorious Goodwood and York's Ebor Meeting, something one could not have said with any conviction back in 2001. It is very much a case of onwards and upwards for these three days which form the jewel in our summer racing calendar.

Thank you.


{Questions to JAMES FANSHAWE}

LISA HANCOCK

Thanks very much James. So we now have what I hope you all agree is a tremendous three-day race programme, but as I mentioned earlier, the July Festival is already about much more than just the racing. Fashion and style are now very much a part of the three days and so too is music. I'm now going to hand over to our Marketing Manager, Gaynor Haxby, to talk about the non-racing side of this year's July Festival.


GAYNOR HAXBY

Good morning everyone. We introduced Ladies' Day at the July Festival in 2000 and since then the opening day crowd has grown steadily, with ladies' fashions a more and more prominent and popular feature of the day. Indeed last year we had a complete sell-out in the Members' Enclosure on Ladies' Day, the first time that this has ever happened on any day of the July Festival. The overall Ladies' Day crowd of just over 14,000 was a modern day record for a July Course afternoon fixture, while the three-day total crowd of almost 33,000 was a record for the July Festival as far back as our records go.


Of course we were helped a bit on Ladies' Day last year by the relocation of Royal Ascot to the north, but we are confident of maintaining this level of crowd in the future as the feedback from those that came was really positive with many saying how much they enjoyed the more intimate environment of The July Course.

This year Ladies' Day once again opens the meeting, though obviously this time on a Wednesday. What we are looking to do in 2006 is to maintain the fashion theme across all three days by encouraging our racegoers to don their best outfits on the Thursday and Friday as well and I am delighted to announce that Jaeger will be increasing their involvement by supplying thousands of pounds worth of outfits as prizes over the three days.


As well as a whole range of prizes for the Best Dressed Ladies on Ladies' Day, we are introducing for the first time this year prizes for the Best Hats on the second day of the Festival and for the Best Dressed Couples on Darley July Cup Day. These are fun elements which add to the overall atmosphere and interest of the day without detracting from the enjoyment of those who prefer to focus on the top class racing.

The highlight of the non-racing entertainment has to be the concert which we are putting on in partnership with Classic FM on the Thursday. We introduced Classic FM Day a year ago with a concert after the last race starring the brilliant welsh singer, Katherine Jenkins. That drew rave reviews which we hope to match again this year with the amazing New Zealand singer, Hayley Westenra. She won awards all over the world in 2003 with her first album, Pure, when she was just 15 years old. Now 18, she has recently released her second album, Odyssey. Hayley will be appearing alongside the National Symphony Orchestra and it should be something very special indeed. Here is a sample of her music.


LISA HANCOCK

I hope you agree that Hayley Westenra alone should be worth coming to see on Classic FM Day on the second day of the July Festival, never mind a fantastic afternoon's racing as well. Racing simply has to widen its appeal if it is to generate new racegoers for the future and this kind of high profile entertainment can only help in that respect.


As Michael and Gaynor have outlined, these three days will be something very special this year. We had hoped to be in a position to reveal the first ever title sponsor for the July Festival this morning. We haven't quite made it in time for today, however, but we expect to be making an announcement on that in the near future. Having announced British racing's first ever venue sponsorship a couple of weeks ago with the NatWest Rowley Mile, we are very excited at the prospect of involving another very high profile and well known brand with the July Festival.

This leads me on to our vision for the July Festival in the future. If you look at racing festivals in other countries, they are often events that the whole area becomes involved with. That is what we would love to see develop here over the coming years and I am delighted that both Forest Heath District Council and Newmarket Town Council are enthusiastic about the concept of a Festival for the whole of Newmarket.


Inevitably it will take time to build it - oak trees grow from acorns after all - but I genuinely believe that within three or four years we will have built July Festival week into something that encompasses a lot more than what will be taking place solely on the July Course itself.

The idea is in its infancy, but we wanted to flag it up now and see what kind of reaction we get. Initial ideas include a fashion show and an art exhibition on the Rowley Mile; open-air theatre on the Heath; a real ale festival in the town's pubs; bands playing in some of the pubs; small exhibitions, string quartets and cocktail parties in local hotels; something special at the National Horseracing Museum and the National Stud; July Festival displays in shop windows; a funfair for the children. Entertainment, culture, a celebration of summer that the whole community can participate in - that's the kind of thing we have in mind.


We are keen to play a major role in taking this forward and I know that it's something Robin is very enthusiastic about as well.


ROBIN MILLAR gives his comments on the July Festival plans.


LISA HANCOCK

So now you have our plans for this year's July Festival together with our longer term vision for the future, but what we need, of course, is a modernised racecourse that meets the expectations of a 21ST century racegoer. We announced our plans for the redevelopment of the July Course last year. Those plans subsequently went through a comprehensive consultation process with focus groups made up of our staff, regular racegoers, Friday night racegoers, local residents and other interested parties, as a result of which some of the detail has changed, though the overall scheme remains the same.

The preliminary phase of work has been going on over recent weeks, notably the re-roofing of the three main stands, but the vast majority of the work will commence as soon as this year's summer season is over so that it is finished in time for June 2007.

The 9 million pound redevelopment focuses on the area behind the stands in the Members and Grandstand & Paddock Enclosures - little will change inside the stands themselves and nothing will change on the racecourse side other than a realignment of the enclosure boundaries through the movement of the bookmakers' rail.


It is important to remember that this work is Phase One of our overall Master Plan and subsequent phases will focus on the head-on stand and Weighing Room area, and then on the Family Enclosure facilities, but it is fair to say that no timescale has yet been agreed for this work.


Before I show you the visual "fly through", as the architects call it, here are just a few headline figures for you which will hopefully strike a chord with those of you who are regular July Course racegoers:

- We are gaining almost an acre of land at the rear of the stands by moving back the outer perimeter on to the National Stud land which we currently use for car parking. This gives us the vital extra depth that we need to improve crowd circulation and to construct new facilities.

- As a result of this, the public area behind the stands in the Members' Enclosure will increase in size by 90% to over 6,000 square metres. This enables us to increase the capacity in this Enclosure, though we are only doing so by 18%, thereby ensuring that there is considerably more space per person. Grandstand & Paddock and Family Enclosure capacities will remain unchanged.


- The number of permanent female toilets across Members and Grandstand & Paddock will increase by 130%, and the permanent facilities for men will increase by 150%. We are likely to continue to supplement the permanent toilets with a small number of high quality temporary toilets on the Friday nights and at the July Festival.


So let's have a look at the fly-through. We'll play it through once without any comments from me and then I'll go through it again and briefly talk you through the key points.


{Architects' "fly-through" is shown}

So that's what it's going to look like. I am really excited about it and I think it will make a very big difference to our racegoers.

I will read you one key paragraph written by the project consultants in the scheme design report. It sums up the redevelopment very well:

"The development of the July Course offers a major opportunity for the facilities at this unique racing venue to be updated to meet the standards that are expected by today's racegoers. The proposals seek to improve access to the racecourse, circulation within the Enclosures and reduce queues at toilets, bars and catering outlets. They respect the smaller scale, rural feel of the July Course and will add to this charm, enhancing the existing character and maintaining the course's popularity."

I wish we didn't have to wait a year for the work to be done, but our message for this year is simple: it's business as usual on the July Course, with exactly the same facilities as last year, but when you come back in 2007 you'll be in for a very pleasant surprise!


For old articles (from 1st March 2000) go to the Newslink Archive


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