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A £12.8million horse-themed attraction for Newmarket is on the cusp of being developed after 10 years’ planning.

Work starts this autumn on Palace House Stables, transforming the site of a former court of King Charles II into a new home for the National Horseracing Museum.

It will also house collections of the British Sporting Art Trust, act as a new shop window for Retraining of Racehorses (RoR) and include restaurants – to boost Newmarket’s tourist trade on non-racing days.

The Home of Horseracing Trust has raised £7.5m to date to fund the project, including £4.2m from the Heritage Lottery Fund. With other grants, it is now £2m away from the fundraising target.

National Horseracing Museum director Chris Garibaldi said: “There is currently room for a fraction of the exhibits at the museum.

“We hope the restoration will provide focal point for tourists to Newmarket town centre, which has lost some character with the arrival of so many national chain stores.”

Charles II built Newmarket Palace, to the east of what is now the high street, in 1671.

But the Italianate villa now known as Palace House – currently a conference centre – the derelict trainer’s house, two large stable yards and paddock are all that remains.

The new racing museum alone will be three times larger than the current one and will take 2 ½ years to complete.

The RoR project will occupy the rear yard and have a revolving equine guest list, including big names, on show to the public.

This news story was first published in the current issue of H&H (5 April)