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EPSOM & NEWMARKET
Featuring the Derby and Oaks
8 Days, 7 Nights (including one en route)
JUNE 3 to JUNE 10, 2014
5 nights in Windsor, 1 night in Newmarket
4 days/evenings of racing at Epsom, Goodwood, and Windsor
Morning training and farm visits in Newmarket
A Thames River cruise and other special sightseeing
Depart the U.S., if not joining the trip from the U.K. or elsewhere.
|Arrive in London. We'll meet your flight at the airport and transfer you on up to Newmarket, approximately 80 miles and two hours away. We can also transfer you from central London if you're already there.
We're starting the trip in Newmarket for several reasons: we'll avoid the early-morning drive time we'd have coming up from elsewhere; an overnight in Newmarket will allow us to experience the town and its associated attractions more completely; and we think you'll enjoy lodging in the historic Jockey Club.
Once in Newmarket, the rest of your arrival day is free for adjustment and your own interests. It's a good town for walking, and you can take your first independent look at the famous gallops. For the more adventurous, the picturesque university city of Cambridge is only a half-hour's taxi ride away. As always, we 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 casual no-host group dinner for those interested, and we won't be out late.
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. It was for centuries the ruling authority of English racing, and governing bodies all over the world took their cues from here. Members would lodge at the Rooms during racing or other meeting times. The renovated bedrooms 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.
|An early start this morning to begin our exploration of the place known as “HQ” in English racing circles. Thoroughbred racing as we know it had its genesis in Newmarket hundreds of years ago, and in addition to its historical significance, the town today remains England’s largest training center and home to many 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 a nice lunch at the Club. In the afternoon we’ll make time for the excellent Racing Museum, and visit at least one of the area’s most prominent farms. Hopefully we’ll also have time for a quick look at the two local racecourses.
Late afternoon we’ll head off for Windsor and The Oakley Court Hotel, our home for the next five nights, and arrive in the early evening. It’s been a long day and this is probably a good evening to lay low and maybe have a simple dinner at the hotel.
THE OAKLEY COURT: Atmosphere and tranquility are the hallmarks of this beautiful country house, originally built as a private home in 1859. The public spaces offer traditional English ambiance and the 37 acres of manicured grounds include several hundred yards of frontage on the gently meandering Thames River. For the more actively inclined there’s a gym, sauna-and-steam, an indoor pool, and a Par 3 golf course. Our deluxe rooms are located in a quiet modern wing. Please refer to www.theoakleycourthotel.co.uk for more details on the property. A full English breakfast is included each morning of our stay.
Late morning we depart from the hotel for our first of two days at celebrated Epsom Downs, south of London. It's Oaks Day.
These days promoted by the racecourse as "Ladies Day", this Friday now draws a much bigger crowd than it used to. But it's nowhere near as frenetic as it will be tomorrow for The Derby, so it's a good day to get your bearings and learn your way around. The fine card includes four Group and Listed races.
The headline event is of course The Oaks itself, like the Derby run over the traditional classic distance of a mile-and-a-half. Inaugurated in 1779, it actually outdates The Derby by a year – its success encouraging the promoters to add The Derby the following season. For more than two hundred years it's been the premier prize of the year for 3-year-old fillies in Europe, and remains so today. And the Oaks "brand" is used for top-class filly races the world over.
We'll have entry badges to the prestigious Queens' Stand, and a well-located block of reserved seats in the Grandstand from which to watch the racing action.
This evening, back at Windsor, we can have a cocktail by the Thames and later venture into Windsor for a no-host dinner if there's a demand.
|Derby Day. With a setting and mood made up of equal parts amusement park, NFL pre-game tail gate party, gypsy encampment, rock festival, spring break at Port Aransas, humongous double-decker bus parking lot and helicopter landing field, 100,000 fans, and the most famous horse race in the world, this is a racing day unlike any other anywhere.
As to The Derby itself, the great Italian horseman Federico Tesio, breeder of Nearco and Ribot, probably put it best when he said that the Thoroughbred is what he is because of "a piece of wood – the finishing post at Epsom". For most of its history this race has been the definitive trial for all the qualities that make a great or near-great horse, and every race in the world that has "Derby" in its name gets it from here.
It's your trip organizer's favorite single race in Europe.
In addition to a Listed race and a Heritage Handicap sprint, also on the card today is the Group 1 Coronation Cup, which dates to 1902 and the crowning of Edward VII, one of the great royal supporters of racing down the years. This is the first European Group 1 of the year for classic-distance older horses and is a very important race on its own. Nine Derby winners and the great filly Pretty Polly have taken it, and postwar winners include Ballymoss, Exbury, Mill Reef, Roberto, Swain, Daylami, Yeats, Shirocco, and St Nicholas Abbey.
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 testing Epsom course. We'll do a course walk: up the 150-foot right-turning 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 toward the rail and treacherous uphill final 100 yards. You'll get an appreciation for all the things a horse has to cope with at Epsom, and come to understand why many think it's the most demanding race in the world.
This day there are formal dress requirements for the Queens Stand and that enclosure also gets uncomfortably crowded, with parking places hard to find and hold. For these reasons we'll stay in the Grandstand side (now officially known as the "Duchess's Stand"). We'll have our same block of reserved seats as yesterday, and the best view of everything.
On the way back to the hotel tonight, assuming everyone's on board in advance, we can renew a Racing-Europe tradition and stop for a post-race dinner at the 400-year-old Thatched Tavern in Cheapside, a Berkshire landmark and a place where we've had great fun on past trips. It's no problem for those not interested to continue on straight back to the hotel after the races.
We have a treat today as the authorities have added a new Sunday fixture for 2014 at Goodwood, a racecourse thought by many to be the prettiest in the world. It's about 90 minutes down to the course in West Sussex and we'll depart the Oakley Court late morning.
Goodwood's beauty is matched by its singularity, with a course layout so unusual as to defy easy description. It's more or less in a bent L-shape, following a natural contour in the terrain, with a loop at the far end to accommodate the return trip in longer-distance races. There are two separated turns leading into the homestretch and an undulating six-furlong straight coming in from the right. Races start at and go off to an array of different places, sometimes crossing the same spot on the course in opposite directions during the same race.
This day's new program is expected to be modest, but Goodwood is a major English course which hosts a lot of important racing throughout the year. It's best known for the five-day "Glorious Goodwood" meeting in late July when thirteen Group contests are run, a festival rivaled in England only by Royal Ascot. And historically speaking, many administrative procedures we take for granted today -- including mandatory pre-race public saddling and the draw for post positions -- were first instituted at Goodwood back in the 1800s.
It's altogether a splendid place to go racing.
Midsummers in England are renowned for their soft and slow-fading evening light. Following the racing today we might want to linger for a glass of Champagne at the lawn bar before heading over to a local pub for no-host dinner. We'll be back to the Oakley Court by bedtime.
You can have a sleep-in this morning, as we have no scheduled activities until later in the day. Those with sufficient juice might want to consider a dash into central Windsor, about ten minutes from the hotel by taxi, for a bit of sightseeing.
Windsor has been the site of a royal residence since William the Conqueror first threw up a few battlements in 1070. The present castle is England's largest, and by some accounts the biggest inhabited fortification in the world. Queen Elizabeth spends a fair amount of time here. Given a mid-morning start, there's enough time to visit the Castle and see some of the town, and be back to the hotel in time for our afternoon boat cruise on the Thames River followed by an evening's racing.
The Thames has been famously referred to as "liquid history" and although that may not be strictly true of the stretch we'll wind through today, we can promise you a large dose of easy-going local color. Our Thames cruise has been very well received by travelers on past trips.
We'll re-group at about 2PM to begin, and spend a couple of hours drifting by villages, passing under bridges and through locks, and enjoying having a pop or two and some simple finger food. We'll make it as far downstream as Windsor for a river's eye view of the Castle before returning upstream to disembark at the racecourse.
In English racing, Monday evenings belong to Windsor. From late April to late August the local course here is a firm fan favorite despite the fact that very few major races are contested. It's all atmosphere here – from the tall trees surrounding the walking ring, to the old traditional-style members' stand, to the peculiar figure-8 course layout dictated by the riverside siting that can take the runners out of sight for long moments. Windsor presents English racing in all its idiosyncratic wonder.
We'll have dinner at a paddock-side restaurant that's close to everything and be back at the hotel by about ten.
Unfortunately, the organized itinerary ends this morning following breakfast and check-out. We'll provide transport for you to either your departing flight at your London airport or to any alternate London destination. Those extending at The Oakley Court will get their transfer on their departure day.
Good luck, and travel safely.
This trip will close on April 4, 2014. 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 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 from the airport whatever day you arrive, or from London if you’ve started there, and, subject to availability, book you into the Jockey Club Rooms. You might instead want to consider extending at the back end – London is an easy taxi ride from Windsor.
We’ll accommodate extensions as best we can, but room space is not blocked or guaranteed at this time either before or after our trip dates. It’s a very busy time of the year. Please let us know as soon as possible if you’d like to extend your trip.
ITINERARY & PRICES:
The itinerary includes:
The itinerary does not include:
- Five(5) nights’ lodging at The Oakley Court Hotel in Windsor.
- One(1) night’s lodging at the Jockey Club Rooms in Newmarket
- Breakfast each morning as indicated.
- Lunch on one(1) day: at the Jockey Club in Newmarket on June 5.
- Dinner on one(1) night: at Windsor Racecourse June 9.
- Four(4) escorted days/evenings of racing at Epsom, Goodwood, and Windsor, including transportation to and from the racecourse and race cards. Queen’s Stand admission on June 6 at Epsom, Duchess’s Stand admission June 7 at Epsom, and Premier Enclosure admission June 8 at Goodwood and June 9 at Windsor. Duchess’ Stand seating both days at Epsom, premier enclosure seating at Goodwood, and restaurant seating at Windsor.
- Full-day exploration of Newmarket including transportation, gallops and trainer’s yard visit, tour of the Jockey Club, admission to the Racing Museum, farm visit, and visits (time permitting) to the racecourses (non-racing day).
- Afternoon cocktail/sightseeing cruise on the Thames River on June 9.
- Arrival transfer from London airport or other London location to Newmarket. (Please note the trip price includes transfer from Heathrow Airport. Transfers can be arranged from Gatwick Airport or from central London, however they will incur a surcharge.)
- Group transfer from Newmarket to Windsor on June 5.
- Departure transfer from the Oakley Court Hotel to London airport or alternate London location. (Please note the trip price includes transfer to Heathrow Airport. Transfers can be arranged to Gatwick Airport or to central London, however they will incur a surcharge.)
- Complimentary racing newspaper each day.
- Welcome cocktails in Newmarket.
- Accompaniment throughout by a knowledgeable American escort.
The Cost of the Trip does not include:
- Airfare to and from the U.S.A.
- The cost of lunch or dinner any day except as specified above.
The Cost of the Trip Is:
- 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 and the Thames River cruise.
- 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 staffs on behalf of the group. Group members should appropriately tip their incoming and outgoing transfer drivers and 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.
$3,745 per person, based on double occupancy (thirteen or more travelers).
$3,825 per person, based on double occupancy (eleven or twelve travelers).
$3,975 per person, based on double occupancy (eight to ten travelers).
$675 single supplement, regardless of group size
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.
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. Single travelers on this trip will be accommodated in the same class of room as the double occupancy travelers at the Oakley Court Hotel (with a less desirable view to help keep the singles’ price down).
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 and the United Kingdom. U.S. Dollar prices quoted herein are based on the following exchange rates:
1 US $ = 0.617 U.K. Pounds // 1 Pound = 1.62 US $
- Additional Nights at the Oakley Court Hotel in Windsor, if available: and at the Jockey Club Rooms in Newmarket, if available: Please inquire with us.
*This trip is designed for eight(8) to sixteen(16) 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. Should we need to cancel the trip, all payments made to Racing-Europe toward the cost of the trip will be fully and promptly refunded.
*Some of the activities listed for Newmarket may be shifted from one day to the other due to scheduling issues, however all will be included.
*You must have a valid passport to enter the United Kingdom.
Photos courtesy of The Jockey Club, Kay Minton, The Oakley Court Hotel,
Mary Goodman, Goodwood Racecourse, and Julie Brewster
View the Itinerary for our other 2014 trips:
For Late June (Ireland), click here
For October-November (Australia), click here
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