Sunday, February 08, 2015

Sunday morning walk

One of the privileges of living in Newmarket is that, once the horses are away, there’s seemingly endless open space for dog-walking on the Heath.

Yearlings over the hedge at the National Stud
A favourite walk is to follow the track along the Devil’s Dyke between the Rowley Mile and July Course and then come back around the National Stud hedges. If time permits and Brian O’Rourke is turning a blind eye, it’s also good to walk the Town Plate course backwards.

Gus and I spend many Sundays at the spot that seems to encapsulate Newmarket best: fields of mares and foals to one side and the vast expanse of the two racecourses on the other. It’s what this place is all about. 

Walking back up along the hedge by the airstrip on the July Course you come to a place which affords a view of both grandstands. In the farther distance the upstart Millennium Stand of the Rowley Mile rises from the flat gallops which surround it, backlit by the morning sun, a glowing, eerie, frosty white. Across the way, the old lady next door, the fading beauty that that is the July Course, is cocooned by her lovely trees. Stately she stands after all these years.

In not so many months, both courses will be owned by racegoers’ shouts, the drumming of hooves, flashes of coloured silks and popping of corks. This morning the utter stillness is broken only by the flash of a black-and-white spotted dog on the trail of rabbits and the incongruous shrieks of seagulls circling above the yearlings’ feed bowls on the National Stud next door. Today both courses belong to me. And to Gus.

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