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EPSOM & NEWMARKET
Featuring the Derby and Oaks
and a possible optional extension for a day trip to France for the French Derby
7 or 8 Days, 6 or 7 Nights (including one en route)
MAY 27 to JUNE 2 or 3, 2024
2 nights in Newmarket, 3 nights in Windsor
2 days of racing at Epsom Downs
Morning training, farm visits and more in Newmarket
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 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; a couple of nights 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 5PM we'll gather up the group for a tour of the hallowed ground of the Jockey Club building, followed by 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 lodge 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 each morning of our stay.
|An early start this morning to begin our exploration of the place still 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 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. After a break for lunch we'll have time for a visit to the excellent Racing Museum, after which we'll visit one of the area's most prominent farms. Time permitting we'll also get a look at the two local racecourses. (No live racing is scheduled, unfortunately.)
There are no set plans for the evening, but we'll organize a no-host group dinner if the demand is there.
|This morning, following checkout from the Jockey Club Rooms, we'll make a visit to another of Newmarket's most important stud farms. Mid-day we’ll head off for Windsor and The Macdonald Windsor Hotel, our home for the next three nights, having a picnic lunch en route. After check-in on arrival, we'll have a privately-guided walking tour of the town, which will include an extensive visit to Windsor Castle.
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. Our excursion will also include Eton, just on the other side of the Thames River which flows between the two towns.
THE MACDONALD WINDSOR is ideally located in the heart of the town. The Castle is just steps away, Eton and the Thames River are within a few minutes' walk, and all amenities and conveniences are immediately available. The location to the west of London makes transit to our racing a great deal easier than if we were based in central London. Visit https://www.macdonaldhotels.co.uk/windsor to learn more about 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, to the south of London and Windsor. 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.
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, St Nicholas Abbey, and Cracksman.
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 out-dates The Derby by a year -- its success encouraged 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" has been adopted for top-class filly races the world over.
We'll be quartered in the prestigious Queen's Stand where we'll have a multi-course lunch, afternoon tea, and excellent viewing of the racing and parade ring. Bring an appetite along with your binoculars and Racing Post.
This evening, back at Windsor, we can have a cocktail by the Thames and later, if you have room for it and there's a demand, a no-host group dinner.
|Derby Day. With a setting and atmosphere made up of equal parts amusement park, NFL pre-game tail gate party, gypsy encampment, rock festival, spring break at Daytona, 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.
This year's Derby will be its 245th running. It's your trip organizer's favorite single race in Europe.
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 track. 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 into 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 "flat" race in the world.
Also on the card are a couple of Group 3s and a Heritage Handicap -- the five-furlong Dash Stakes over the famous Epsom “downhill all the way” straight course, which for most of its history has been the site of the world record for the distance -- currently 53.69 seconds.
This day there are formal dress requirements for the Queens Stand. For this reason we'll stay in the Grandstand side (now officially known as the "Duchess's Stand"). We'll have a block of reserved seats with a fine view of the racing.
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.
For those of you not wanting to come with us to France, today is your getaway day. We'll provide transport to the airport for your flight home or into central London if that's your next stop.
If you haven't had enough yet, we are working on arrangements for a day-trip to France and another day of Classic racing at Chantilly. (Some elements of this experience can't be confirmed until about the end of 2023.)
Depending on the final air scheduling we'd probably leave the hotel about 9:00AM. Our objective is the Prix du Jockey-Club, also popularly referred to as the French Derby. Racing at Chantilly dates back to 1835 and the Jockey-Club was first run in 1836. The supporting card features several other Group-level events. The course itself is certainly one of the world's most beautiful, with its signature backdrop of the Grand Stables and the elegant Chateau behind the stretch turn.This optional excursion would include door-to-door transport, round-trip London-Paris airfare, and arrangements at the racecourse. We would be back at the hotel by 10:00PM.
The organized itinerary ends for all 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 Macdonald will get their transfer on their departure day.
Good luck, and travel safely.
This trip will close on March 22, 2024. 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:
- Two(2) night’s lodging at the Jockey Club Rooms in Newmarket
- Three(3) nights' lodging at the Macdonald Windsor Hotel.
- Breakfast each morning as indicated.
- Lunch on three(3) days: in Newmarket May 29, en route to Windsor May 30, and at Epsom Downs on May 31.
- Two(2) escorted days/evenings of racing at Epsom Downs, including transportation to and from the racecourse and race cards. Queen’s Stand admission on May 31 at Epsom, Duchess’s Stand admission June 1 at Epsom. Lunch in the Queen's Stand May 31 and reserved seating in the Duchess’ Stand June 1.
- Exploration of Newmarket on May 29 and 30 including transportation, gallops and trainer’s yard visit, admission to the Racing Museum, farm visits, and visits (time permitting) to the racecourses (non-racing day).
- Afternoon tour of the Jockey Club and welcome cocktails on May 28.
- Walking tour of Windsor town and Eton, including visit to the Castle on May 30.
- 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 May 30.
- Departure transfer from the Macdonald Windsor 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.
- Accompaniment throughout by a knowledgeable American escort.
The Cost of the Trip does
- 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.
- 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.
$4,345 per person, based on double occupancy (thirteen or more travelers).
$4,475 per person, based on double occupancy (ten to twelve travelers).
$4,575 per person, based on double occupancy (eight or nine travelers).
$565 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.
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 $ = 0.807 U.K. Pounds // 1 Pound = 1.24 US $
The French Derby Day Trip (Sunday June 2): would include economy-class airfare from London to France and back, airport transfers in England and all transport in France, lunch or reserved seating at Chantilly Racecourse, accompaniment throughout by a knowledgeable escort, and an additional night (June 2) at the Macdonald Windsor Hotel. We are still finalizing these arrangements and we hope to be able to make this option definite by the end of 2023. As to cost, about $750 per person is our best estimate at the moment. Final price will depend on prevailing airfares and the number of people selecting this option. Please let us know if you are interested in this excursion.
Additional Nights at the Macdonald 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 Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead, and Sandra Lepard
Epsom photo copyright www.actionplus.co.uk
View the Itinerary for our other 2024 trip:
For August (France), click here
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