Town to enhace racing status

A PRESTIGIOUS house built by King Charles II is at the centre of radical plans to enhance an East Anglian town's status as the home of horseracing.A number of schemes aimed at ensuring Newmarket remains a centre of racing excellence have been announced.

A PRESTIGIOUS house built by King Charles II is at the centre of radical plans to enhance an East Anglian town's status as the home of horseracing.

A number of schemes aimed at ensuring Newmarket remains a centre of racing excellence have been announced. They include establishing a Hall of Fame, a pavement horseshoe trail, moving the National Horseracing Museum and building a massive viewing tower in the centre of the town.

Members of the Home of Horse Racing Steering Group, which is made up from representatives from Forest Heath District Council and the horse racing and breeding industries, have commissioned consultants to formulate a programme that will see radical changes in the town.

The first phase of the scheme is to seek permission to establish a horseracing Hall of Fame at the town's Palace House Mansion, built by King Charles in Palace Street because of his love of horseracing. It is reputed to the house was used for the King's liaisons with mistress Nell Gwynne.


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One plan is to move the National Horseracing Museum in the town's High Street to the Palace House Stables, opposite Palace House. The stable has a trainer's house, two courtyards and a paddock.

The current museum has a collection of heritage and artefacts associated with racing, breeding and the history of the horse, and the proposed move would allow it to expand.

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Another idea is to make a trail of brass horseshoes sunk into the pavement from Palace House to the National Stud guiding visitors to various attractions.

One of the most ambitious aspects of the scheme has been named the Big Idea and would see a massive structure in the centre of Newmarket to give visitors panoramic views of the town's attractions and various stables. It is envisaged this proposal would take several years to develop.

The final proposal put forward by the consultants is to provide some type of transport to help racegoers visit the attraction and facilities in the town itself. This idea is to be discussed by Forest Heath District Council next week.

The Home of Horseracing Project was launched after a community appraisal raised concerns about the continuing ability of the town's community and infrastructure to meet the needs of racing and breeding.

Forest Heath District Council's strategic director Tony Pierce said: "Racing needs to reinvent itself to attract new audiences. Its traditions and institutions have been its strength, but these are coming under increasing pressure from other sports, new media and leisure choices, particularly those aimed at younger people."

The district council will now be asked to commit £50,000 to the first phase of the project with assistance from Newmarket Racecourses Ltd and the Jockey Club Estates.

The steering group will also seek support from the British Horse Racing Board to establish the Hall of Fame. Once the Home of Horseracing Project is approved by all partners it is intended to form a trust to oversee the work.

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