Start of new racing season in Newmarket

By Benedict O'ConnorLEGEND has it that the colour of the flowers on the grave of an unknown boy on the outskirts of Newmarket on the morning of Derby day offer a clue to the winner of the race.

By Benedict O'Connor

LEGEND has it that the colour of the flowers on the grave of an unknown boy on the outskirts of Newmarket on the morning of Derby day offer a clue to the winner of the race.

But it held equally true for the opening race of the flat season at racing's headquarters yesterday.

The origins of the grave - marked only as that of “Joseph the unknown gyspy boy” - at a crossroads near Kentford are shrouded in mystery, backed up by superstition and tended lovingly by persons unknown.


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Eagle-eyed racegoers making their way to Newmarket's Rowley Mile yesterday will have spotted the grave bearing more than its usual neat tally of garlands and wreaths.

For among them were the maroon and grey colours carried by Ecomium, the three-year-old bay colt that stormed to victory in the opening race of the Craven meeting at Newmarket.

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Ecomium, trained by Newmarket-based Jeremy Noseda, danced home by five lengths to land the Giles Fox at Newmarket Racecourses Maiden Stakes and herald in the beginning of the new season at the Suffolk course.

The legend of the colours of the Kentford grave could yet reveal more about the horse's chances as the Craven meeting often holds clues to how horses will perform in bigger races throughout the season.

Ecomium has been entered for the Derby and after yesterday's performance, bookmakers slashed the horse's odds for the Blur Ribband race from 66-1 to 25-1.

It was a healthy sized, if subdued, crowd who took to the famous heath yesterday for the beginning of what promises to be a bumper season.

Newmarket Racecourses managing director, Lisa Hancock, said: “It's great to get back into the action, the course is in great shape and everything's in great condition for the start of the season.”

She was pleased the winner of the opening race was trained at one of Newmarket's yards, in a race sponsored by a Newmarket-based business.

Giles Greenwood, director of race sponsors, tailors and shirt-makers Giles Fox, said: “A lot of our customers at our Newmarket shop work in either racing or racing-related industries and a lot of our customers from our London headquarters come racing, so it's a marriage of the two and we will be sponsoring races throughout the season.

“It's been a great day and the start of an exciting venture for us - we were glad to see a Newmarket trainer taking the prize.”

benedict.o'connor@eadt.co.uk

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