Warren Place: the two words should immediately bring you a sense of joy. Of all the training bases in Newmarket, this was the one that resonated most with a wider audience.
This, after all, was the home of Sir Henry Cecil — the historic base where this most popular of souls nurtured thoroughbreds with painstaking precision and allowed them to blossom in the same way the roses did in his vibrant back garden.
From Frankel to Fairy Footsteps, Reference Point to Reams of Verse, this was the best of racing. Cecil sent out 25 British Classic winners and masterminded 75 Royal Ascot victories here, upholding the traditions of his father-in-law Noel Murless.
Cecil won 10 trainers’ titles from Warren Place, having taken the reins in 1976.
Murless won eight of his haul of nine after moving into the property in 1952. The numbers and names involved should tell someone with just the slightest interest in racing that the place is special.
When the late Queen used to go to Newmarket to watch her horses, she would go to Warren Place to have tea with Sir Henry Cecil
Warren Place now currently resembles a ghost ship, standing hauntingly empty on Moulton Road
To put it another way, how about this: when the late Queen used to go to Newmarket to watch her horses, she would go to Warren Place to have tea with Cecil. It was an Arcadia, where sporting dreams and fantasy would be brought to life.
How sad, then, that it currently resembles a ghost ship. It stands hauntingly empty on the brow of Moulton Road, a short canter from the renowned gallops on Warren Hill. It is baffling that a property of such majesty should be left deserted.
Time spent outside it last week was deflating. Through the trees you can see the boxes at the front of the yard, all with their stable doors slammed shut.
Cecil initially wanted to put Frankel in one of these boxes, so he could see him each morning when he went for his morning smoke.
The old house had scaffolding around it and a group of builders were on the roof, chivvying away at tasks. Nobody has lived in the house since Cecil’s widow, Lady Jane, moved out in 2015, no horses have clip-clopped through the yard since Ed Walker’s tenancy ended shortly after.
It was like taking part in a real-life game of spot the difference, searching for the things that were obviously different and missing; the flag pole from which Cecil used to fly his family crest after winning a Group One race, for instance, stands barren besides the front gates.
And those gates, which led the way to a racing Eden, were padlocked shut with a chain wrapped around the lock. In many ways, this was like standing outside Old Trafford, Lord’s or St Andrews and seeing only tumbleweed.
It seems a travesty that such an incredible place is not in service.
Cecil wanted to put Frankel (pictured) in one of the boxes at the front of the yard so he could see him on a daily basis
Godolphin, the operation of Sheik Mohammed, bought Warren Place seven years ago.
They already have Moulton Paddocks, the private base adjacent to it from where Charlie Appleby trains, and the purchase meant they own a huge swathe of land from Newmarket down to the village of Moulton.
But why was it purchased without, evidently, any firm plans to make the most of it? Warren Place could be the shimmering jewel in Newmarket, a place that hums with life.
Murless and Cecil made Warren Place as famous as the town in which it is based, as famous as Epsom and Ascot. Those who have the capacity need to turn its lights back on and give it chance to shine again.
Equinox isn’t just the world’s best race horse, he’s a work of art
John Gosden never disappoints in conversation and so it proved again after he had watched work at Santa Anita on Tuesday.
We talked about the quality of the horses assembled for the Breeders’ Cup meeting but also about the one who hasn’t come: Equinox.
The Japanese horse has done passable impressions of Pegasus through 2023 and was spellbinding in last Sunday’s Tenno Sho Autumn, one of the biggest races in Japan.
Equinox was winning it for the second consecutive year but what we would do to see him in the Breeders’ Cup Turf.
Gosden’s star Mostahdaf tried to put it up to Equinox when they met at Meydan in March but ended up being left in a vapour trail.
That Mostahdaf went on to win at Royal Ascot and then follow up in the Juddmonte International shows why Equinox is the world’s best.
John Gosden described Equinox – who left his star Mostahdaf for dead at Meydan – as a freak
Equinox was spellbinding in last Sunday’s Tenno Sho Autumn, one of the biggest races in Japan
‘He’s a freak,’ said Gosden. ‘They told me he was very good in Dubai and we saw it. He doesn’t look like a race horse, it’s like he belongs in a Stubbs painting. He’s something else.’
He really is. If you haven’t watched footage of Equinox’s races, you should take the chance to put that right.
You won’t be disappointed.
Don’t be surprised by an Irish sweep at Cheltenham 2024
It’s the time of year when jumps fans are looking at every race and wondering what it all means for Cheltenham in March.
That was certainly true last weekend when Cheltenham staged its Open Meeting, the two days that tell us the winter game is really here.
And what did we glean? Aside from a super display from Flooring Porter, the dual Stayers’ Hurdle winner who was trying fences for the first time, it was ominous that five of the 14 races were won by Irish-trained horses, particularly as none were supplied by Willie Mullins or Gordon Elliott.
Ireland made off with 18 of the 28 races at this year’s Festival. There will come a point when they take 20 and don’t be surprised if it happens in 2024.