Attendance fall at Glorious is not a worry for Goodwood bosses

More than 98,000 people watched the Goodwood action over the five days of Glorious / Picture by Tommy McMillan
More than 98,000 people watched the Goodwood action over the five days of Glorious / Picture by Tommy McMillan

Goodwood bosses declared Glorious a major success – and said they were unfazed by a slight drop in crowd figures.

A total of 98,833 watched five fabulous days of flat-racing at the Qatar-sponsored festival – down from 101,133 last year.

Officials blamed the fall on some race-goers remembering last year’s rainy conditions and deciding in advance not to come this year – and said they expected to benefit next yerar from the fact the 2018 event was blessed by wall-to-wall sunshine.

They are also stepping up their attempts to increase the number of international runners they attract.

This year a good number of French and Irish horses ran, but there was none from racing hotbeds like Australia, Hong Kong or America.

Adam Waterworth, Goodwood’s managing director of sport, said: “It was a fantastic week. No-one can remember having all five days with great weather.

“That takes its toll on the staff – and on the horses – but I think we were owed a week like that after last year (when 50mm of rain fell on Sussex Stakes day).

“I think the customer experience this year was fantastic and the team put on an unbelievably good show. When the sun shines there is nowhere in the world like this place. The number of positive comments we’ve had this week has been off the charts and I couldn’t be happier.

“It proves that given decent weather we can put on a show that I don’t think you’ll get anywhere else in the world.”

Waterworth pinpointed Battaash’s second straight win in the King George Stakes as the racing performance of the week.

“To win that competitive Group 2 race by four-and-a-half lengths was unbelievable – mind-blowing. We’d hope he’ll come back for a hat-trick bid next year.

“At the start of the week I was thinking ‘where’s the star performance coming from?’ It could have been from Stradivarius in the Goodwood Cup or Without Parole in the Sussex Stakes but Battaash was in a different class.

“Wild Illusion was a good winner of the Nassau and Stradivarius is the best stayer out there and I think he’ll clinch the £1m prize at York later this month that his Goodwood win has set up.

“And in the Sussex Stakes, if ever a horse deserved a Group 1 win it was Lightning Spear. I was delighted for his connections.”

Glorious Goodwood in pictures

Goodwood week video highlights

Waterworth was pleased to see some smaller yards enjoying victories. “It’s what we always say Goodwood is about – it’s not just about the big super-powers, it’s about the Peter Hedgers of this world to have runners and hopefully have winners.

“Watching the Stewards’ Cup I was stood behind the boys whose horse ended up second (Justanotherbottle). It’s a relatively small syndicate and they weren’t that far away from winning a £250,000 pot, which is what the meeting is all about.”

Crowd figures were slightly down on last year but Waterworth said they were half expecting for the early part of the week.

“Whenever you have a really wet year you expect your re-bookings to take a bit of a knock. And they did. I can’t say I’m surprised but I can guarantee our rate of returning customers next year will be a lot better than this year because they’ve had a great week.

“I hope the people who didn’t come because they remember last year will have seen it on the TV and say ‘We’ll give it a go again’ - especially with ITV having done such a fantastic job with his coverage. The crowd sizes at the back end of the week were very strong.”

Goodwood bosses still want to attract a greater number of runners from overseas, a target that’s not proving easy.

Waterworth said: “We’ve had more French horses, but as for America and Australia, we’ve had entries again but that didn’t follow through to runners.

“Aidan O’Brien (Ireland) is always supportive and in terms of a numbers has been tremendous. But we’ll crack it.

“The sale of racehorses we held on the second day after racing was designed in a way to attract overseas owners. We’ve had a lot of owners over from Australia and Hong Kong looking at the place, and we’ve had horses from that sale going to Hong Kong and Singapore. The next step is to get their horses running here.”