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|DERBY WEEK IN ENGLAND
Featuring the Derby and Oaks at Epsom
with an Optional Excursion to France for the French Derby
8 Days, 7 Nights (including one en route)
JUNE 1 to JUNE 8, 2010
5 nights in London, 1 night in Newmarket
3 days/evenings of racing at Epsom and Windsor
Farm and training visits in Newmarket
Sightseeing in Windsor
Optional day trip to France for the French Derby
Tue June 1
Depart the U.S., if not joining the trip from the U.K. or elsewhere.
Wed June 2
Arrive in London. You will be met at the airport and delivered to our accommodation in Newmarket, approximately 70 miles and two hours away. We’re spending our first night here because we’d be coming up tomorrow anyway, and overnighting will save us some early morning drive time and give us the opportunity to experience the town and its associated activities more fully.
The remainder of your arrival day is free for adjustment and your own activities. Newmarket makes for interesting strolling, and you can get your first look at the famous gallops. The scenic university city of Cambridge is also only a half-hour’s taxi ride away. We do advise keeping active if it’s your first day over from the U.S..
At about 6PM we’ll gather up the group, have a drink or two to get acquainted, and go over the plans for our upcoming time together. We’ll also organize a no-host group dinner for those interested, and we’ll be making it an early night.
THE JOCKEY CLUB ROOMS: we’re fortunate to be able to overnight in the Jockey Club Rooms in the heart of Newmarket. The Jockey Club dates back to the 1750s and was long the ruling authority of English racing. Members would lodge here at the Rooms during racing or other meeting times. The renovated rooms are very comfortable and we’ll be having our cocktail hour in one of the traditional club rooms. A full English breakfast is included in the morning.
Thu June 3
An early start this morning to begin our exploration of Newmarket, the place referred to as “HQ” in English racing circles. Thoroughbred racing as we know it had its genesis here hundreds of years ago, and in addition to its historical significance, Newmarket today remains England’s largest training center and home to many of its most important breeding farms.
Our day will begin with a visit to the gallops during morning training and a stop-in at a trainer’s yard. Later in the morning we’ll have a private tour of the Jockey Club’s meeting rooms, and we’ll stay on for lunch at the Club. In the afternoon we’ll have time for a visit to the excellent Racing Museum, have a look at both of the two local racecourses, and see at least one of the area’s more prominent breeding farms.
Late afternoon we’ll head for London and arrive at The Draycott Hotel, our home for next five nights, in the early evening.
THE DRAYCOTT: The elegant and intimate Draycott is our regular London headquarters. Located in the Knightsbridge end of Chelsea, amid superb shopping, dining, and walking, The Draycott has been adapted from three grand Edwardian townhouses and backs onto a private park. Our double rooms are spacious, each with a sitting area, and more likely than not, a fireplace. Visit www.draycotthotel.com for more information on the property. Continental breakfast is included each morning.
Fri June 4
Late morning we depart from The Draycott for our first of two days at historic Epsom Racecourse, south of London. It’s Oaks Day.
Lately promoted by the racecourse as "Ladies Day" and drawing larger crowds every year, this Friday is still a good way to get your first experience of Epsom in the relative calm of the day before the Derby. And a connoisseur’s card of racing features two Group 1 races over the Derby distance of a mile-and-a-half.
The headline event is of course the Oaks itself. First run in 1779, the success of it led to the inauguration of the Derby the following year. Today, two hundred-plus years later, it’s considered the premier prize of the year for 3-year-old fillies in Europe, and it has lent its name to top races for the division all over the world. The supporting feature is the Coronation Cup, first run in 1902 to celebrate the accession to the throne of Edward VII. This very important race is the first European Group 1 of the season for classic-distance older horses, and has been won by nine Derby winners and such recent standouts as Swain, Daylami, Yeats, and Shirocco.
We’ll have entry badges to the prestigious Queen's Stand, and a well-located block of reserved seats in the Grandstand from which to watch the racing action.
This evening, back in London, we’ll organize a no-host group dinner for those who want to join in.
Sat June 5
Derby Day. With an atmosphere that’s a mix of state fair, gypsy encampment, Woodstock, spring break at Daytona, humongous double-decker bus parking lot, 100,000 fans, and the most famous horse race in the world, this is a race day unlike any other anywhere.
The great Italian horseman Federico Tesio, breeder of Nearco and Ribot, said that the Thoroughbred is what he is because of "a piece of wood – the finishing post at Epsom", and every race in the world that has “Derby” as part of its name gets it from here. This is the race that every breeder, owner, trainer, jockey, and groom in Europe wants to win, and because the Epsom test is so searching, it is seldom taken by a bad horse.
Upon arrival today, for those game for the experience, we’ll walk across the infield to the Derby starting point and get a runner’s-eye view of the uniquely challenging Epsom course. We’ll then do a course walk: up the 150-foot climb of the first five furlongs, down the sweeping, descending left-hand turn to Tattenham Corner, and finally have a look up the 3 1/2-furlong finishing straight with its camber to the inside and its treacherous uphill final 100 yards. You’ll get an appreciation for all the things a horse has to cope with at Epsom and understand why many think it’s the most demanding racing test in the world.
We’ll have our same block of reserved seats as yesterday, but because the Queen’s Stand gets very crowded and there is also a formal dress requirement there on Derby Day, we’ll stay completely on the grandstand side. Our race viewing won’t suffer.
Tonight, if there’s a demand, we’ll put together another no-host dinner booking. It might be a nice evening to “stay in” and have the hotel do something for us. We’ll of course organize television viewing of the Belmont Stakes from back home later in the evening.
Sun June 6
Those who’ve had enough racing for the time being can relax and have an OPEN DAY to enjoy London. Those who don’t want to miss a thing will be up early and off to France for another day of Classic racing at Chantilly. We’ll probably be flying over and back, but if it turns out the scheduling and pricing is significantly better as trip time approaches, we might wind up taking the under-the-channel high-speed Eurostar train. Either way we’ll leave The Draycott at about 8:30AM and be back by about 10:00 at night.
Our target event is the Prix du Jockey-Club, also popularly referred to as the French Derby, at what is certainly one of the world’s most extraordinarily situated racetracks. Providing the backdrop for the Chantilly course is the combination of the famous Grand Stables, built by the Prince de Conde for his horses in the 1700's, and the Chantilly Chateau, picture-perfect with its moats, which dates to the 1500s. Sometimes, when the field is sweeping the far turn, it’s hard to keep your eye on the horses.
Races were first held here in 1834, and the Prix du Jockey-Club was inaugurated in 1836. The undercard on Jockey-Club day is always excellent, featuring several other Group races.
Door-to-door transport will be provided from and back to The Draycott, and to and back from the races in France.
Mon June 7
France adventurers can sleep in a bit this morning, and the stay-at-homes can enjoy some more free time in London. Early- to mid-afternoon we’ll head out to Windsor for sightseeing and racing.
Windsor is best known for it’s Royal castle, and we’ll organize a tour. Eton is just across the Thames River and we’ll have a walk over to it as well. Depending on timing we might work in a short tour here also, but at the least we’ll see the environs and the famous playing fields.
We’ll then boat upstream a mile or so to the town’s lovely racecourse. The Windsor Monday evening meetings are a fixture of the racing summer, and atmosphere is everything here. With its tall trees and its siting hard by a bend of the Thames, the course is a favorite of many despite its lack of major races. The quirky figure-8 layout will even allow you, for some longer events, to walk across the course for a closeup of the start and still have time to amble back to the finish line to see the horses come back by. Windsor shows off English racing at its eccentric best.
We’ll be back at the hotel by about ten.
Tue June 8
The organized itinerary ends this morning following breakfast and check-out. As part of our arrangements we will provide transport for you to either your departing flight at your London airport or to any alternate London destination. Those extending at The Draycott will get their transfer on their departure day.
Good luck, and travel safely.
This trip will close on April 1, 2010. Payment in full and all necessary completed paperwork must be received by us no later than this date to insure that you will be able to join the trip.
COME EARLY, STAY LATE:
This itinerary is short and designed to be full and busy. You may want to consider coming early, staying on, or fitting this program into or alongside other European travel plans.
Even a day for adjusting or exploring at the beginning can ease the pace of the trip. We can get you up to Newmarket whatever day you arrive. You might instead want to consider extending at the back end – you can never get to the bottom of London. There is racing nearby on many days, and the concierge at the Draycott can advise and help organize anything else.
We will try to accommodate extensions as best we can, but room space is not blocked or guaranteed at this time. Please let us know as soon as possible if you wish to extend your trip.
ITINERARY & PRICES:
The itinerary includes:
- Six(6) nights lodging as indicated: one(1) in Newmarket and five(5) in London.
- Breakfast each morning as indicated.
- Lunch on one(1) day: at the Jockey Club in Newmarket on June 3.
- Three(3) escorted days’ racing at Epsom and Windsor, including transportation to and from the racecourse, race cards, members’ enclosure admission or equivalent on June 4 at Epsom and June 7 at Windsor, and grandstand admission at Epsom on June 5. Reserved seating both days at Epsom.
- Full-day exploration of Newmarket including transportation, gallops and trainer’s yard visit, tour of the Jockey Club, admission to the Racing Museum, visits to the racecourses (non-racing day), and farm visit.
- Arrival transfer from London airport or other London location to Newmarket.
- Departure transfer from Draycott Hotel, London, to London airport or alternate London location.
- Afternoon sightseeing in Windsor on June 7.
- Complimentary racing newspaper each day.
- Welcome cocktails in Newmarket.
- Accompaniment throughout by a knowledgeable American escort.
The itinerary does not include:
- Airfare to and from the U.S.A.
- The cost of lunch except as specified above or dinner on any day.
The Cost of the Trip does not include:
- Any charges incurred at hotels other than the basic cost of the room and breakfast, including but not limited to room service, mini-bar, television or video, restaurant or bar service, laundry or dry-cleaning, business services, golf or other activities, and activities arranged through the hotel concierge. (All group members will be required to provide a credit card imprint upon check-in at each hotel to guarantee payment for any individual charges.)
- Excess baggage charges. Please check baggage limits on inter-European air flights.
- Costs related to obtaining passports or visas.
- Travel insurance.
- Alcoholic beverages, except for the "Welcome" cocktail hour.
- Charges incurred for anything other than what is specified in the "Itinerary Includes" summary above.
- Personal gratuities. As part of our arrangements we will tip our drivers, farm and barn personnel, and hotel staff on behalf of the group. Group members should appropriately tip anyone who provides them with personal assistance, including special assistance by hotel staff. Please note your principal tour escort does not expect and will not accept a gratuity.
The Cost of the Trip Is:
$3,775 per person, based on double occupancy (Thirteen or more travelers)
$3,875 per person, based on double occupancy (Ten to twelve travelers)
$3,975 per person, based on double occupancy (Eight or nine travelers)
$415 single supplement, regardless of group size*
*Please note that some of the single rooms at The Draycott in London are small, but they add very little cost to the Single Supplement price. Single trip members may upgrade to a standard double room, with an addition of $630 to the Single Supplement. Single trip members wishing to be accommodated in a deluxe double (the room category of our double-occupancy travelers on this trip) must add $1,485 to the Single Supplement.
We will attempt to match single travelers wishing to double up and thereby avoid the Single Supplement, however it will always be the single traveler’s decision whether or not to accept a roommate.
Please note we have not received final costing for some minor elements of the itinerary, and therefore the final price of the trip is subject to minor adjustment until we do.
Trip prices are subject to change up to thirty(30) days prior to trip departure to reflect fluctuations in currency exchange rates between the United States, the United Kingdom, and the European Union. Dollar prices quoted herein are based on the following exchange rates:
1 US $ = 0.602 UK pound // 1 UK pound =1.66 US $
1 US $ = 0.607 Euro // 1 Euro = 1.50 US $
- The day-trip to Chantilly, France for the French Derby (June 6):
About $500 per person is our best estimate at the moment. Final price will depend on prevailing air or train fares and the number of people selecting this option, but will be confirmed prior to the Closing Date of the trip. The excursion will include economy-class airfare or Eurostar train fare from London to France and back, airport or terminal transfers in London and all transport in France, arrangements at the racecourse at Chantilly, and accompaniment throughout by a knowledgable American escort.
- Additional Nights at the Draycott Hotel, London, if available: $255 per night, per person, based on double occupancy. Single supplement $85 to $255 per night depending on the room category chosen.
- Additional nights at the Jockey Club Rooms in Newmarket, if available: $140 per night per person, based on double occupancy. Single supplement $40 per night.
*This trip is designed for eight(8) to fourteen(14) people. Although we will make every effort to operate the trip, we reserve the right to cancel the trip if it has less than eight(8) subscribers. We will need at least four(4) travelers to operate the Chantilly excursion. Should we need to cancel the trip or the Chantilly excursion, all payments made to Racing-Europe toward the cost of the cancelled activities will be fully and promptly refunded.
*You must have a valid passport to enter the United Kingdom or France.
To view our other 2010 trips:
For August (Deauville), click here For November (Argentina), click here
Photos © www.actionplus.co.uk , Don Skelly, and The Draycott Hotel
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