Amateur riders are sought for historic Newmarket horse race

William Gittus riding in the Newmarket Town Plate

William Gittus riding in the Newmarket Town Plate - Credit: Archant

Horse riders are being invited to take part in one of the most historic events in British racing.

Entries are still being sought for this year’s Newmarket Town Plate, which was founded by King Charles II in 1666 and is the first race of its kind to have been staged under written rules.

The event still takes the same unique course from its first running nearly three-and-a-half centuries ago.

The Town Plate is run prior to racing at the final meeting of the summer season on the Adnams July Course, Summer Saturday Live, on Saturday, August 29, when McBusted will be performing after racing.

The race is contested on the Round Course, used only once a year for this event, and covers three miles and six furlongs, with the finish at the July Course winning post.

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A first prize of £200 will go to the winning owner – total prize fund £375 – and the winning rider will receive a Goldings Perpetual Challenge Plate, a silver photograph frame, a £125 Goldings voucher and, most famously, a box of Powters Celebrated Newmarket sausages.

Michael Prosser, head of racing at Jockey Club Racecourses for the East Region, said the Town Plate is a major part of both Newmarket’s and British Racing’s heritage with it being the first race to be run under rules and is therefore a momentous event each year for the racecourse and the town.

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He said: “The race really epitomises the Corinthian spirit and in recent years the race has been won by an accountant and a neurosurgeon, as two examples, highlighting that this is a race for true amateurs.” A trainer or permit holder must certify that the rider is competent to ride in the race and that the horse is suitably fit enough to complete the distance. Professional jockeys, stable lads/lasses and grooms who work full time in racing are not eligible to ride.

Riders, who must be at least 16 years old, must satisfy one of the following criteria: have ridden in the Town Plate in the previous three years and completed the course; hold an amateur or lady rider’s permit, issued by any recognised Turf Authority; have ridden in a British or Irish point-to-point race in the previous three years and completed the course; or provide a certificate – available on request – signed by a licensed trainer or permit holder, proving competence to ride thoroughbred horses at racing pace over three miles six furlongs.

The deadline for entries is August 14. The fee is £30 per rider. For entry forms visit or contact Lucinda McClure on 01638 675502 or email

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