Following 51 years in racing - he started out as a jockey but injury curtailed that career - and 23 at Goodwood Racecourse, clerk of the course Seamus Buckley has overseen his final Glorious Goodwood.
Buckley retires as Goodwood’s 2017 flat season concludes on Sunday, October 15, and is currently recovering from a challenging Glorious Goodwood which gave him his worst and hardest raceday ever – when 50mm of rain fell in a few hours omn Sussex Stakes day. See some video clips from the week above.
We have already reported Buckley’s memories of his Goodwood years and the jockeys, trainers and horses he has enjoyed seeing and working with, but now he is looking forward - for himself and for Goodwood.
He lives in the village of Singleton, just a mile and a half away from the track, and is not planning to move away. However, he will let his successor, Ed Arkell, get on with the job, though being available to provide advice if asked.
Buckley said: “Goodwood have been very loyal and given me a wonderful life. I want to go out on a high. In retirement, I might go and learn how to play golf properly, I love my garden, and I will get around a little bit - I am not a great traveller and don’t fly too well. But I would like to see more of this wonderful country and visit people I have not seen for years.”
Before joining Goodwood, he worked as head groundsman at Epsom Downs racecourse, home of the Derby.
“I was probably lucky as the make-up of the two racecourses are almost identical. The ground is on a chalk base and dries very quickly so I knew what I was up against at Goodwood.
“Epsom was not the easiest racecourse to look after and I had 13 or 14 Derbys there and managed the training grounds too when there 500 to 600 horse sin training. I knew that going to Goodwood that I would be doing the same thing - trying to keep moisture in the ground.
“I was very fortunate to work at with my friend Rod Fabricius, who brought me down to Goodwood. He headhunted me. I wasn’t clerking at Epsom and it was a wonderful career move to come to Goodwood.”
One of his conditions before he agreed to join Goodwood was the introduction of a new watering system, with the boom spraying Upton Irrigator replacing pop-up sprinklers. He also introduced a new mix of harder grasses to the course and changed fertiliser treatments after detailed soil analysis.
“I was proud to get my diploma in turf management 20-odd years ago after a year and a half of studying at a college near Pulborough one day a week - it wasn’t easy going back to school, but it has proved very helpful.
“In today’s world, it is very important to produce good ground. The days of firm ground are over, because people will not run their horses on it. Horse are trained on an artificial surface so they are used to an easier surface and my job has been to produce ground without jar in it.
“Having two bends does spread the load. When I first came, we only had the one Group One race (the Sussex Stakes) and now we have three, which is a great feather in Goodwood’s cap and the higher prize money has helped enormously.
“I have always wanted the Lennox Stakes to be promoted to Group One, but people are a bit cold about having a seven-furlong Group One as well as a Group One mile race.
“They say the same horses will want to run in both races, which I think is a load of rubbish. It would give a horse who does not get a mile an opportunity over seven furlongs to win a Group One. I think we will get it eventually as there is no a Group One seven-furlong race in Britain.”
See more action and reaction from Glorious Goodwood 2017 in this week’s Chichester Observer
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