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Article 2nd November 2023 Newmarket

By Graham Clark

When the last hooves cross the line in the concluding race at Newmarket on Saturday (November 4th) it will not only bring an end to another fantastic season of racing in the town, but it will also see long serving Clerk of the Course Michael Prosser say farewell to the place which has been his second home for 22 years.

For the past 23 Flat seasons the father of three, together with his skilled team of staff, has ensured that the Rowley Mile and July Course have been produced to their immaculate best on each and every raceday to make sure there is a surface that matches the quality of racing that takes place at both tracks.

After working for champion Jump trainer Paul Nicholls during the early stages of his career Prosser received his breakthrough into clerking at Wolverhampton and Southwell under the guidance of Ron and Richard Muddle before taking up his post at Newmarket on February 7th, 2001. 

Despite the role coming with its challenges, including the foot and mouth outbreak just weeks after his appointment, the recently turned 57-year-old admits his journey with The Jockey Club has been one he has enjoyed immensely.

He said: “I had never been racing at Newmarket before I took up the role so I wasn’t familiar with the racecourses and I wasn’t familiar with the gallops and the enormity of the place. 

“I knew I had a huge amount to learn in a short period of the time, but I was aware of the prestige and importance of the role. 

“The foot and mouth outbreak broke out pretty swiftly after I arrived and that was the first challenge, but thankfully that was under control by the Craven Meeting.

“Through the Flat season this is a seven day a week job as there is not a day where you are not doing something. 

“There have been sacrifices along the way, but what I would say is that working at Newmarket has been an immense amount of fun.

“The Jockey Club has been fantastic in their vision since I’ve been here to improve the equine areas at both tracks, and it would be fair to say that I will leave this role extremely fond of both racecourses and the town itself.”

When it comes to racing highlights, Prosser has seen plenty over the years. While the likes of Frankel’s commanding success in the 2011 QIPCO 2000 Guineas will live long in the memory there are two performances in particular that stand out above all else. 

He added: “Frankel’s 2000 Guineas win was a spectacular performance, while Oasis Dream beating Choisir in the 2003 July Cup was another great race. 

“My favourite 1000 Guineas was Russian Rhythm in 2003. It was one of those races that had so much depth and quality to it with many of those in behind going on to great things like Soviet Song and Six Perfections. It was an amazing ride by Kieran Fallon, who held his nerve and waited for the gap.

“The finest performance I’ve seen here though is probably New Approach winning the Champion Stakes when it was here in 2008.

“It wasn’t the deepest Champion Stakes, but they went an extremely strong gallop. The time he clocked was two minutes dead and he wasn’t even pushed out to the line.”

While his time at Newmarket might be drawing to a close Prosser, who lives in Horringer, will keep his hand in the sport in his new role as head of racing services at Cambridgeshire-based racing technology company TurfTrax. 

And he believes in new Clerk of the Course Andrew Morris The Jockey Club has chosen a safe pair of hands to continue the good work he has laid down.

He added: “I’m ready to hand over the reins although I will miss it as I’ve made a lot of friends.

“I’ve taken great pride in helping train some really good ground staff over the years, but the racing world is a small world and I will still be working in the industry. 

“I think The Jockey Club has selected wisely, and prudently, in Andrew Morris because he has worked at Chester and at Moonee Valley in Australia for a number of years which are tough roles, so he comes here with a good level of experience, and knowledge, which is key going forward. 

“I’m looking forward to going back to my roots a bit. Even though I’m a Flat racing convert my plan is to go watch a bit more Jump racing now I will have the flexibility to do so.”


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