Atzeni stars as Goodwood's May Festival ends on high

Andrea Atzeni was the man of the moment with a treble on the final day of Goodwood's May Festival.

Saturday, 27th May 2017, 3:59 pm
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 3:14 am
First Sitting and Gerald Mosse come back into the winner's enclosure after taking the Festival Stakes / Picture by Steve Bone

The popular Italian rider won three races out of four to take the plaudits of another big crowd on the Downs.

He was on board Madeline, Sutter County and Top Tug - for three different trainers - for victories that thrilled connections and race-goers.

As another successful festival came to an end, the summer sunshine seen on the opening two days of the festival didn't break through the cloud cover until after the penultimate race - but that didn't stop another good-sized crowd seeing some absorbing action.

The day opened with one of two listed races, the Matchbrook Betting Exchange Festival Stakes, which was won by 16/1 contender First Sitting, ridden by Gerald Mosse for trainer Chris Wall. The judges needed to study a photo to separate the six-year-old from Spark Plug (4/1), who many thought had timed his run perfectly to nick it under Jamie Spencer.

There was success for one of the runners tipped on this website when Irish raider Madeline (7/2), ridden by Atzeni for Roger Varian, led most of the six-furlong Basketmakers Company Celebration EBF Fillies' Novice Stakes, holding off the challenge of the 6/4 favourite Billesdon Brook.

Atzeni was back at the No1 post 35 minutes later, too, as he guided the Mark Johnston-trained Sutter County (9/1) to a half-length victory in the Winners Are Welcome at Matchbrook Handicap Stakes. The 10/1 chance Medahim was second.

There was a second success for our tips in the Smarter Bets At Matchbrook Tapster Stakes as Jamie Spencer took Second Step, another Irish winner, this one trained by Roger Charlton, Going off at 7/2 he came from the pack to defeat joint favourites Desert Encounter and Barsanti.

Then Atzeni completed his treble with a superb ride on 100/30 favourite Top Tug for Alan King - a trainer normally seen at Britain's jump courses rather than on the Downs - in the Gentleman's Mearue In Memory of Phil Wiggins Handicap Stakes.

The Better Odds With Matchbrook Veterans' Handicap Stakes went to a horse who, at 10 years old, was more than two years older than all his nine rivals and was a 25/1 chance - the Jonny Portman-trained Joe Packet, ridden by young French jockey Pierre-Luois Jamin.

The last race, the Matchbrook Betting Podcast EBF Maiden Fillies' Stakes, went to Pat Dobbs on 9/4 starter Contentment for trainer William Haggas.

Goodwood racecourse general manager Alex Eade said the May Festival had been another resounding success.

"We've seen three days of top-quality racing, including four excellent listed races, and the food festival we've expanded this year to run over the whole three days of this festival has also proved very popular," Eade said.

"It sets us up nicely for our Three Friday Nights, which begin this week and will all either be sold out or close to it, while hopefully race-goers have seen a number of horses at this festival that they will see back here again at the Qatar Goodwood Festival in the first five days of August."

The opening two days of the May Festival had taken place in beautiful conditions, with the racing highlights including Frankel filly Mori taking the Height of Fashion Stakes and Khalidi winning the Cocked Hat Stakes. Both horses are now on course for bigger prizes in the coming weeks.

See this week's Chichester Observer for a report and pictures from the May Festival plus coverage of Fontwell's Bank Holiday family race day.

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