Trouble flares at horseracing's big date

THE wet British weather failed to dampen the spirits of thousands of people who attended one of the biggest dates on the horseracing calendar at the weekend.

THE wet British weather failed to dampen the spirits of thousands of people who attended one of the biggest dates on the horseracing calendar at the weekend.

Newmarket's Rowley Mile course was awash with a sea of colourful umbrellas as the popular two-day Stan James Guineas Festival got into full swing.

And even a fight breaking out in the stands on Saturday did nothing to deter people from enjoying themselves.

Racing enthusiast Mick Edwards, from Lowestoft, who attended the 1000 Guineas yesterday, said he would have turned out for the event whatever the weather.

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“The meeting attracts such a wide cross-section of people, and there is such a great atmosphere every year,” he said.

“There have been some strong racers, but although winning is nice I think it's more about just enjoying the day.”

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Jockey Kieron Fallon, riding George Washington, stole the show on Saturday, when he lit up the course with a fantastic performance to land the 2000 Guineas in style.

Racing bosses said they were thrilled with the success of the day, which saw 17,602 people walking through the gates - almost 1,000 more than last year.

“We saw a sensational winner of the Stan James 2000 Guineas and a big crowd was there to see it,” said Lisa Hancock, managing director at Newmarket races.

“Yesterday was also a good day, and we saw another great winner - the locally trained Speciosa - which really lifted people's spirits on what was a damp day.

“The atmosphere throughout the two days has been great, and there has been some great racing which is what it's all about.”

But not everything throughout the festival ran as smoothly as expected, with four arrests being made on Saturday following a fight between a group of men - one of whom was seen bleeding heavily from the face as he was escorted from the Rowley Mile course by officers.

Suffolk police confirmed one man, who was arrested for being drunk and disorderly, had been dealt with by way of a fixed penalty, with the remaining three being released on bail in relation to the incident.

Mrs Hancock said course officials would be examining the circumstances of the incident in detail.

“The fight that broke out on the Level 2 Millennium Stand balcony on Saturday was very regrettable, but the police brought the incident under control quickly and only minor injuries were incurred by those involved,” she said.

“Fortunately, such incidents are extremely rare - the arrests were the first here for several years for this kind of offence.”

As if the festival itself wasn't enough excitement, a group of horseracing enthusiasts were treated to a behind-the-scenes look at the town's William Haggas stables, and the state-of-the-art Rossdale's equine hospital, near Exning.

Nick Kelly, hospital administrator, said 50 people were given a tour around the facilities before racing got underway yesterday.

“It was an excellent opportunity for people to see exactly what goes on at the hospital, which takes in all sorts of 'patients' from thoroughbred racers, to massive shire horses and tiny Shetland ponies,” he said.

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