Racing: Newmarket prepares for its big weekend

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The Independent Online
NEWMARKET is always a bustling place during the Flat horse racing season but there has been a special air about the town this week. Just as the leafy suburbs of Wimbledon come to life in June in readiness for south-west London's fortnight-long festival of tennis, so Newmarket awaits its big weekend with eager anticipation.

The home of racing plays host today and tomorrow to the 2,000 and 1,000 Guineas, the year's first major highlights for the cream of this season's three-year-old crop. Today's 2,000 Guineas in particular holds the promise of the emergence of a true equine superstar. There are high hopes that Xaar, the odds-on favourite, will prove himself to be one of the best three-year-olds for many years.

In Newmarket this week the weather has been a major topic of conversation. With all the recent rain the going is likely to be soft. There were six withdrawals yesterday from the 2,000 Guineas and they could be joined by the Roger Charlton-trained Tamarisk if there is no marked improvement in the going this morning. At the moment there are 18 runners in the race.

Four horses were withdrawn yesterday from the field for tomorrow's 1,000 Guineas, leaving 16 runners to contest the fillies' Classic.

Copies of these photographs - and any others by The Independent's sports photographers David Ashdown, Peter Jay and Robert Hallam - can be ordered by telephoning 0171-293-2534.

If anyone in Newmarket was in need of inspiration this week they might have visited the town's museum, where portraits of the legendary Godolphin and jockey Lester Piggott are on display

Like every other yard in Newmarket, Giles Bravery's stable has been a hive of activity this week. One of the most important jobs is that of the

farrier (pictured left and second from left), who ensures that all the horses are properly shod

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