Review: Kaiser Chiefs at Newmarket Nights, Adnams July Course

The Adnams July Course in Newmarket. Kaiser Chiefs performing.Pic: Matt Stott

The Adnams July Course in Newmarket. Kaiser Chiefs performing.Pic: Matt Stott - Credit: Archant

Newmarket’s Adnams July Course will always be a special place for me. It is where I spent two summers during my university years earning, very importantly, some pocket money for late-night social events at the student union and pizzas which can only be described as Spartan in design and taste from corner shops.

The Adnams July Course in Newmarket. Pic: Matt Stott

The Adnams July Course in Newmarket. Pic: Matt Stott - Credit: Archant

If you left a tip at the Soviet Star bar, or the Sharpo Bar, or The Summer House Restaurant (where I once served the late Sir Henry Cecil), or Mozart’s Bistro, or the Attraction Suite, or even the Press Room (Derek Thompson, you still owe me £2, and you know it) – I thank you.

So on Friday night, it was impossible not to feel a profound sense of nostalgia when re-entering the racecourse after a six-year absence. It was the Newmarket Nights, which to my surprise started back in 1987, and the Kaiser Chiefs were the headline act after an evening/night of seven races on the hallowed turf.

The racecourse was exactly how I remembered it: modern, bright, clean, large without feeling isolated or unconnected anywhere, packed with curious avenues and rooms and stairways, well-officiated and welcoming. It paints an enchanting picture. As a porter or punter, I found it uplifting.

There is an abundance of food and drink outlets. Ironically, the only new addition I spotted was a pizza parlour. There were snaking, unmoving queues for various burger bars. I queued for three minutes at a hog roast vendor. I saved 30 minutes and it was delicious.

The Adnams July Course in Newmarket. The Parade Ring. Pic: Matt Stott

The Adnams July Course in Newmarket. The Parade Ring. Pic: Matt Stott - Credit: Archant

But this was after an exhilarating evening of racing. As an active fan of the sport of kings, and king of sports, I was in my element. I studied form, trainer history, jockey booking, ground preference, stall number, wind speed and the pollen count. Okay, maybe not the last two.

Despite all that, Cold Fusion, a 16/1 shot, took the first race.

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But out of six races (we did not wager on the last – that was the hog roast time before the Kaiser Chiefs), I won twice: Grecian Light (7/2) and Dazzling Rose (9/2). We watched the races from various vantage points. Near the winning post was my favourite – and loudest – spot. When the evening sun broke free for the final few hours, the racecourse really did look stunning.

Then Kaiser Chiefs lead singer Ricky Wilson bounded on to the stage and delighted the crowd with an energetic performance. He knows how to work the crowd and got everyone jumping and clapping along. At times, he seemed to put on an American accent when engaging with the crowd in between songs, which remains unexplained.

The Adnams July Course in Newmarket. Kaiser Chiefs performing. Pic: Matt Stott

The Adnams July Course in Newmarket. Kaiser Chiefs performing. Pic: Matt Stott - Credit: Archant

But there was no questioning everyone enjoyed the pulsating show to send everyone home on a high. Perhaps he could have changed ‘Ruby, Ruby, Ruby’ to ‘Frankie, Frankie, Frankie’ (Dettori piloted Dazzling Rose to a three-and-a-half length victory), but I wouldn’t have changed anything else about the fantastic day.