We’re still on a real high this week after the amazing success of our May Festival, writes Goodwood racecourse MD Adam Waterworth.
It was the first time since 2006 the racecourse had staged three back-to-back days of racing in May, and we couldn’t have been happier with how well it went.
We had great weather, big crowds – and some memorable performances from many horses we’re sure to see more of during the season.
I wondered whether the festival was a little too close to Epsom, but the fact Coquet is still due to run in tomorrow’s Oaks after winning our Height of Fashion Stakes shows the timing is about right. And Coquet won’t be the only horse from our festival we’ll see again at other top courses this summer.
A number of them will turn out again at Royal Ascot next month and there’s every chance the best ones will be back for Glorious Goodwood. It’s lovely that our race-goers have had an early chance in the season to see the likes of Coquet, Michelangelo, Sea Moon, Dandini and Grumeti. And they’ll also have been delighted to see a third place for Goodwood Atlantis, owned by the Goodwood Racehorse Owners’ Group, which bodes well for the future.
Michaelangelo took the Cocked Hat Stakes for the same owner, trainer and jockey - Bjorn Nielsen, John Gosden and William Buick - as won it last year with Masked Marvel. As the trio went on to win the St Leger with Masked Marvel last September, we were quite tempted to hand them the St Leger Trophy again there and then – especially as we had it on display!
What was also lovely for everyone was to see some famous faces here. Ant and Dec were delighted to see their horse Primaeval win and Sir Alex Ferguson was here the same day.
We had more than 25,000 people through the gates over the three days, including well over 10,000 on Saturday, which was fantastic.
Splitting the Height of Fashion and Cocked Hat races over two days was a gamble but it worked – we had strong attendances on each day.
The fine weather was a key factor in the success of the festival, but felt we deserved it after our start to the season was affected by unfriendly conditions.
This year’s festival was about establishing the three meetings together and giving ourselves something to build on, and we’ve achieved that. Now we aim to keep the fixture in our calendar.
Now we move from the May Festival to our June Friday Nights, a mix of good-quality racing with some big-name DJs. We kick off tomorrow week with Groove Armada and it’s heading for a sell-out.
The Friday nights tend to grow as the second and third ones follow, so we’re hopeful of three big crowds.
We are anxious to ensure the evenings are not just about the music. We put a Class 3 race worth around £12,000 on each of the three nights and if you just want to come and enjoy the racing then go home, you can.