Preview and tips: Goodwood drying out nicely - but will Lightning strike again?

Lightning Spear takes the 2016 Celebration Mile / Picture by Clive Bennett
Lightning Spear takes the 2016 Celebration Mile / Picture by Clive Bennett

Goodwood has recovered from Sussex Stakes-day drenching - and is ready to stage the biggest day’s racing it sees outside of Glorious week.

Saturday’s card – the middle day of three at the August Bank Holiday Festival – sees the Group 2 Celebration Mile headline a fine afternoon’s action on the turf.

With ITV showing three races live, the programme also includes the £100,000 Goodwood Revival Handicap, the Group 3 Prestige Stakes and the listed Lewis Badges 1832 March Stakes.

Goodwood racecourse manager Alex Eade said entries for Saturday – and in fact for all three days – were pleasing, both in terms of quality and quantity.

“We have last year’s Celebration Mile winner, Lightning Spear, due to come back to try to retain his crown and trainer David Simcock has a good record here of late,” said Eade. “But he is set to have plenty of opposition – including past Goodwood winner Oh This Is Us (Richard Hannon).”

Six-year-old colt Lightning Spear beat Zonderland, another of six left in the race after final declarations, by a length and three quarters in the 2016 Celebration Mile and clearly loves Goodwood’s unique mile course – he returned to form to finish a close third in the Qatar Sussex Stakes earlier this month.

The course has recovered well after the Qatar Goodwood Festival meeting and the groundstaff have done a fantastic job of reinstating the surface.

Seamus Buckley

Lightning Spear is favourite with the new race sponsors Grosvenor Sport.

A total of 20 horses have been entered for the Grosvenor Sport Handicap. The Prestige Stakes attracted ten high-class entries, with Qatar Goodwood Festival winner Billesdon Brook among the most eye-catching.

Eade said: “Saturday is a really strong card but Friday and Sunday will stand up to scrutiny too. Sunday’s racing includes the Group 3 Supreme Stakes.”

Eade hopes for a total crowd of up to 28,000 over the three days and said advance ticket sales had gone well as people began to plan their Bank Holiday weekend.

Sunday’s Group 3 Weatherbys Racing Bank Supreme Stakes received 25 entries ahead of final declarations, including Royal Ascot winner Bless Him and the highly-rated Dutch Connection.

After a rain-hit couple of days during Glorious, including a two-inch downpour on the Wednesday, the turf has recovered well.

Seamus Buckley, clerk of the course, said: “The course has recovered well after the Qatar Goodwood Festival meeting and the groundstaff have done a fantastic job of reinstating the surface.

“We had 16mm of rain over 24 hours earlier this week and I am describing the going as good to soft at present. The forecast is for a more settled, dry week, so I would anticipate starting the fixture on good ground.”

Our Friday tips: 5.10 Wild Flower, 5.45 Adams Park, 6.15 George, 6.45 Imphal, 7.15 Panova, 7.45 Good Luck Charm.

Saturday tips to follow...

Off the track, the festival will celebrate the Great British summer holidays of yesteryear.

It opens with racing and entertainment on the Friday evening, the highlight of which is a dramatic fireworks display set to music – put on by the team that produced the display for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

Before the fireworks, the races will be accompanied by live music from jazz bands, a string quartet and a rock’n’roll band, as well as activities for children such as a traditional fairground and coconut shy.

At sunset, fire performers and stilt walkers will make their way around the grandstands as a band of Batala drummers set a hypnotic beat.

For those wanting to take to the saddle themselves, albeit at a slightly slower pace, donkey rides will be a new attraction throughout the weekend.

A petting zoo is adds to the family entertainment, while complimentary rides on various traditional attractions, such as a helter skelter, carousel and big wheel, will also make a welcome return.

A replica beach front, complete with sun loungers, ice cream, fish and chips and jazz bands, will be the perfect place to relax away from the action.

Little ones will be keen to visit the circus tent, with tutors teaching tricks and skills, and regular Punch & Judy shows and face-painting.

The popular Goodwood Actors’ Guild will return, playing games of ‘invisible cricket’ and entertaining guests with a pantomime horse.

Tickets to the August Bank Holiday weekend start from just £10 per day, with under-18s going free.

All additional entertainment and activities are free on entry. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit www.goodwood.com

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