Wills winner lifts lid on Newmarket social issues

Newmarket High Street

Newmarket: has a problem with cocaine says award winner Chris Humpleby

  PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)  

NEWMARKET has problems with gambling, alcohol and drug abuse according to Chris Humpleby, racing secretary to Roger Varian and winner of the under-26 category in this year’s Martin Wills writing awards.

Humpleby, 24, who moved to the town over a year ago to work as racing secretary to Ed Dunlop, titled his article Newmarket: More Than Meets The Eye and was selected by a panel that featured Brough Scott, Marcus Armytage, Chris Cook and Lee Mottershead for his exposé on what has long been considered an issue.

He called for trainers and the town to do more to protect youngsters from “the murky undercurrent of vice that is unmistakable to all of us who live here”.

Elaborating on the town’s problems, Humpleby, whose piece will be published in full in Sunday’s Racing Post, wrote: “If the gambling is the thrill, and the drink is the fun, then the cocaine is the fuel, because there are not many toilet cisterns in Newmarket that have failed to resemble the sleek slopes of Mont Blanc on a Saturday evening. Charlie is not merely the name of the stable cat . . . You would be forgiven for thinking that nothing exists beyond this microcosm of gambling, booze, drugs and sex.”

Speaking to the Post, where he spent a two-month internship as part of the BHA graduate scheme in 2014, Humpleby said: “I love Newmarket, but it historically takes a fairly laissez-faire approach to problems and hopes they disappear.

“It’s so easy for young and vulnerable people – I’m talking 16-year-olds – to find themselves in these situations, and that scares me. I feel we need to take more ethical responsibility.

“I am not presumptuous enough to assume 800 words by me will make a change, but if it sparks a light bulb among the powers that be then that is what I intended to do.”

On the possibility of a negative reaction within the town from those living the lifestyle Humpleby attacked, he added: “It’s not all one big happy family here, there are probably plenty of people who already didn’t like me anyway, but I didn’t set out to offend anyone and I’m very willing to discuss any criticisms anyone may have.”

On winning the £1,000 first prize for the U26 category, Humpleby said: “It’s a very prestigious award with an incredible roll of honour.”

Read Chris Humpleby’s winning entry in your RPSunday supplement this weekend


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