Diary From The Downs: Goodwood gets ready

Adam Waterworth is looking forward to the season's start at Goodwood / Picture by Kate Shemilt
Adam Waterworth is looking forward to the season's start at Goodwood / Picture by Kate Shemilt

SPRING is well and truly here and I’m delighted to be back in the Observer and on www.chichester.co.uk, looking forward to the start of the new season, writes Goodwood racecourse MD Adam Waterworth.

The racecourse is looking in splendid shape and everything is as it should be with just over three weeks to go before our opening Saturday, May 2.

It wasn’t as cold a winter as we’d hoped for – some harder frosts would have helped kill off any bugs, the sort that affected one part of the course late last season – but Seamus (Buckley) and his team have worked hard and the sunshine of the past week or so has helped bring the grass on a treat.

With our opening fixture this year, we felt it was a day that needed something extra to make it stand out, so we’re staging our first food festival.

It will celebrate and showcase local produce, both from the estate and the wider area.

There’ll be a big food hall while on the East Parade Ring lawn, there will be estate produce for all to see and try.

The fixture will be an early chance for racegoers to spot new horses that might do well here over the season

We have one of the biggest organic farms in the country and it’d be wrong not to show it off.

The racecard for that opening day looks excellent. There are two listed races for fillies – the Daisy Warwick Stakes and the Conqueror Stakes.

The Daisy Warwick and a £50,000 handicap will both be televised by Channel 4.

The fixture will be an early chance for racegoers to spot new horses that might do well here over the season, perhaps returning for the May Festival or one of the Group 3 races at Glorious, which this year, of course, becomes the Qatar Festival.

The other point of interest on May 2 will be the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket, which we’ll show and feature in our racecards.

There’s always a lot of interest in whether the Guineas winner will be one who comes to us for the Sussex Stakes in July.

Beyond our opening fixture, we’re already well advanced with plans for the three-day May Festival. It features four listed races and we’ve invested heavily in the event this year.

Finally, I have quite a good record in this column in recent years in tipping horses that go on to be placed in the Grand National.

If that’s not tempting fate, I don’t know what is.

But I like the look of Paul Nicholls’ Unioniste and Jim Culloty’s Spring Heeled. I’d back both each-way – and would be delighted if they finished second and third behind Tony McCoy on Shutthefrontdoor, who I think the whole country wants to see win.

Read Adam’s exclusive Diary from the Downs column throughout the season on this website and in the Chichester Observer