Community Engagement

Keeping Epsom and Walton Downs safe and enjoyable for all – education project

Update, December 2021: for the latest information please read our newsletter

Epsom and Walton Downs are a much loved and used green open space. As the landowner it is important that we ensure those who use the Downs to work, the racehorse training community, are able to do so safely.

Racehorses and those who train them have priority at certain times of the day, but we must also balance this with the enjoyment that the general public get from the Downs.

The unprecedented increase in people working from home and needing green and open space during the pandemic meant that the Downs has seen a huge increase in usage.

This has presented significant challenges for the racehorse training community, who have priority during the following times:

Racehorse training hours

6am – 12 noon Monday to Saturday

8am – 9:30am Sunday

When they are trying to do their job, also increasing the risk of an accident.

As such, a community education project is beginning through the autumn and winter of 2021/22 to educate, inform and work with the local community around the Downs and to ask for their help in keeping everyone safe.

We are asking the general public not to use the Downs during racehorse training hours unless they absolutely have to. If it cannot be avoided, they are asked to use the areas outlined on the map below.

There will be further updates on this project in the coming months, and for more information please see this FAQs document or e-mail Epsom.reception@thejockeyclub.co.uk.

Yellow Brick Road

The Yellow Brick Road rejuvenation project was launched last summer as The Jockey Club joined forces with Newmarket Town Council, West Suffolk Council, Suffolk County Council and a number of other local organisations including the Newmarket Community Partnership, the Racing Centre, Newmarket Open Door, Discover Newmarket and the Henry Cecil Open weekend to work on the area, which links the centre of Newmarket with Studlands Park.

The project remains ongoing with the aim of increasing the town’s connection and sense of ownership with the YBR, driving footfall and use of the space and ultimately transforming it into a safe, enjoyable beneficial asset for Newmarket’s residents and visitors.

2022 will see substantial clearing of the waterway and surrounding areas as well as planting to rejuvenate the areas which are currently overgrown, with much more planned by organisations across the town. Most recently teams from across The Jockey Club gave some loving care and attention to the Community Orchard at the end of the YBR. More information is available here community orchard receives some love on Valentine's Day.


Open Days and the Henry Cecil Open Weekend

Newmarket’s Henry Cecil Open Weekend has become a popular event in recent years with thousands of people travelling from all over the country to visit Newmarket and see behind the scenes into the yards based in the town. Jockey Club Estates plays a fundamental role in delivering the weekend, providing both land and personnel to give visitors the best possible experience. The event raises funds for local causes. Similar events are run at both Lambourn on Good Friday and Epsom in September which marks the beginning of National Racehorse Week, allowing visitors an insight into working with racehorses while also providing a family day out and raising money for local charities and benevolent funds.

The 2021 Henry Cecil Open Weekend was a great success with a record number of visitors welcomed to the town. Don't forget to watch out for the 2022 dates by visiting the website The Henry Cecil Open Weekend.

Also, for those wanting to get behind the scenes more than once a year be sure to book an exclusive tour with Discover Newmarket.

Rotary Awards

In collaboration with The Jockey Club, Newmarket Town Council and Newmarket Journal, the Rotary Club of Newmarket organised a Community Awards scheme to recognise those in and around the town who have gone ‘above and beyond’ in the past year. The past year has been difficult for many people and the club is wanting to recognise those who have exemplified the Rotary motto of Service Above Self by their deeds naturally, and instinctively, without thinking, and without reward.

A prestigious presentation event was held at The Jockey Club Rooms on July 31st, to present the winners with their awards. Clare, Countess of Euston, the Lord Lieutenant of Suffolk, thanked all nominees for their contribution to the community. The trophies were presented by Mr Bob Champion CBE who was joined by Councillor Jeffries (Town Mayor), Tony Savill (Rotary Newmarket President), Alison Hayes (Newmarket Journal), and Alistair Thomson (Tesco) to present the awards.

A special mention must go to Jockey Club Estates employee Donna Loades who was runner up in the Volunteer Adults category. Donna has contributed so much to the local community, putting others before herself and ensuring that the vulnerable were cared for in the most difficult times. Please see photograph below courtesy of Newmarket Journal.

For further details please visit 2021 Local Community Awards.

Educational activities

Every year Jockey Club Estates works with Newmarket Racecourse on Godolphin Dubai Future Champions Education Week (DFCEW) – a series of activities that gives all the students from Year 8 at Newmarket Academy a chance to learn about the inner workings of the horseracing industry. The event is aimed at highlighting both the historical and current importance of horseracing to the town, together with the varied career opportunities on offer. In addition, in conjunction with Discover Newmarket, Jockey Club Estates provide tours of the Training Grounds and racing yards to local schools and members of the public. Similarly in Epsom, behind the scenes tours of the racecourse are staged for local schools and community groups.

Our Heath Medics also provide first aid training and defibrillator training to members of the public. (see below)

Public access to private land

In Newmarket and Lambourn Jockey Club Estates owns and maintains over 3,000 acres of private land. The Newmarket Training Grounds are open to the public after 1pm daily for use by all locals and visitors for fresh air and exercise. It is hard to think of another town of comparable size to Newmarket with as much space open and accessible for public use. Our property has been used to host many local events and good causes in recent years, including the Henry Cecil Open Weekend, Lambourn Open Day, Epsom Open Day, Newmarket Soapbox Derby, Newmarket Food and Drink Festival, Run Newmarket and Newmarket Heath Ride to name a few.

First Responder aid to the Community

In Newmarket we run a Heath Medics service which was originally set up to come to the aid of injured stable staff from the local training yards. However, our Medics, Rob and Alex, do far more than that. They have been responsible for the installation of a defibrillator on the High Street, for use in any emergency, are often seen at local events providing first aid services and have regularly been called to local emergencies as first responders. Our Lead Heath Medic, Rob Achner was among the nominees for the Godolphin Stud and Stable Staff Community Award 2021.

Goodwill and community support

Our staff are encouraged to get involved with local charities, community initiatives and fund raisers both through Jockey Club Estates and individually. Some examples include, but are not limited to, the voluntary clean up of community areas, befriending schemes, helping at Newmarket Open Door, hosting the Epsom and Ewell and Mole Valley ‘Junior Citizen’ child safety event, sporting events aimed at raising money for charity, helping to maintain trees and hedges to keep the community looking at its best, litter picking and restoring fencing at a local primary school.

The year 2020 was an unusual and difficult, but our team rose to the challenges they were faced with. Throughout both lockdowns, our Training Grounds remained operational for racehorses in the mornings and provided plenty of much needed space for local residents to exercise while socially distancing.

In Newmarket we also played a big part in an initiative to help the vulnerable during the pandemic by working together with local organisations such as Newmarket Racecourses, the Council, Tesco Newmarket, Newmarket Festival and Discover Newmarket setting up a helpline and delivery service for those in need.

In Epsom, The Jockey Club team as a whole contributed to a community initiative titled the East Surrey Poverty Truth Commission. This project was aimed at bringing local people and businesses together to find meaningful and lasting solutions to Surrey’s hidden but prevalent issues related to poverty.

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