Who will be Goodwood’s darling of the Downs in 2014?

Hayley Turner and clerk of the course Seamus Buckley at Goodwood   Picture by Matt Sills
Hayley Turner and clerk of the course Seamus Buckley at Goodwood Picture by Matt Sills

A fresh battle to be Goodwood’s top trainer and jockey begins in earnest on Saturday when a new season of flat racing on the Downs gets under way.

There will be a new trainer lifting the Dick Hern Trophy - but not necessarily a new name.

That’s because Richard Hannon, who has been the top handler on the Downs for five of the past six seasons, has retired - although he has handed his string on to son Richard junior, who is widely expected to continue the fine form the Wiltshire stable has enjoyed at Goodwood and nationally.

Mark Johnston, the one trainer to have taken the Dick Hern Trophy off Hannon during his superb Goodwood run, winning it in 2012, will have his eye on the prize again.

And other top names from the training world will be confident of their chances of being the racecourse’s No1 now Hannon has gone.

Last year Hannon had 18 wins at Goodwood - three times more than each of his closest four rivals - Amanda Perrett, William Haggas, Sir Michael Stoute and Johnston.

James Fanshawe, Brian Meehan, Ed Dunlop, Jeremy Noseda, Jonathan Portman and John Gosden each had three wins.

Goodwood racecourse MD Adam Waterworth said: “It will be very interesting this year to see how the Hannon yard does.

“Most expect them to continue to do very well and we’d certainly be hopeful they’d be sending their usual high number of runners to Goodwood, including some of their very best two-year-olds and other prospects.

“But I’m sure a lot of other trainers will be relieved Richard has retired.”

The race to be leading Goodwood jockey is perhaps not so open. Richard Hughes takes a lot of beating in this contest and he’ll have plenty of bookings for Hannon and others.

Hughes, just back from injury but not at Goodwood on Saturday because he is at Newmarket for the 2,000 Guineas, rode 14 winners at the racecourse in 2013 - four more than nearest rival Ryan Moore.

Other star performers in the saddle were William Buick (7), Kieren Fallon (6) and Pat Dobbs, Joe Fanning and George Baker with five victories each.

Hayley Turner will hope for better luck than last year, when her Goodwood appearances were curtailed by injury, while Harry Bentley, who has taken over from Turner as Goodwood ambassador, will be out to make a name for himself.

Saturday’s card looks a stellar one and, ahead of today’s final delcarations, features an Ascot QIPCO Champions’ Day winner and a couple of horses also entered in Group 2 company at York later in the month.

Goodwood’s first listed race is the Daisy Warwick Stakes (2.20pm) in which Michael Bell-trained Madame Defarge and Gosden’s Freedom Light - both also entered in York’s Middleton Stakes - are in the frame.

Fanshawe’s Seal of Approval - winner of the fillies and mares’ race on Champions’ Day last October - is also entered and may be ridden by Turner.

Notable entries in the other listed race, the Conqueror Stakes, include Rae Guest’s Cape Factor, Roger Varian’s Princess Loulou and Hannon’s Midnite Angel.

Admission prices on Saturday start from £10 and tickets will be available on the day. Call 01243 755055 or visit www.goodwood.com for details.

STEVE BONE

See tips for Saturday on this website on Saturday and a racing round-up from the meeting on Saturday evening.