Goodwood bosses looked forward to a sizzling festival week and vowed: The heatwave won’t stop it being Glorious.
It’s not the usual sort of worrying about the weather racecourse staff have to go through ahead of the festival, but the drought that has gripped much of the UK does give them headaches.
Groundstaff are watering the track around the clock to ensure the going remains as close to good as possible for Tuesday’s start of the Qatar-sponsored week.
And officials are making sure they have extra drinking water and first-aid cover for race-goers who may find the heat too much.
There’s also the prospect of the dress code in the Richmond Enclosure, which states that men must wear jackets and ties, being relaxed if temperatures remain high.
Usually, it’s the prospect of rain concerning Goodwood bosses at this stage – but it looks unlikely at this stage wet conditions will affect any of the five top-class race days which are in store.
Clerk of the course Ed Arkell said the ideal scenario would be for some rain before the festival – and even at night during the week.
Racecourse general man-ager Alex Eade said the heat was playing a key part in preparations for the fourth Qatar Goodwood Festival, which were coming together nicely. Eade said: “The groundstaff are working around the clock and getting on top of it – they have a tough job.
“We could do with some rain but there’s no guarantee of it, and if we don’t get it we will still have the course in a very raceable condition.”
Firm ground could put off a number of potential runners but because the forecast has been stable for some weeks there shouldn’t be the mass withdrawals seen last year when Sussex Stakes day was hit by a deluge.
The quality and quantity of entries for all the week’s big races looks good and Wednesday’s Qatar Sussex Stakes field has been boosted by Sir Michael Stoute’s Royal Ascot winner Expert Eye being supplemented.
One blow for Glorious is Goodwood favourite Frankie Dettori’s ban for careless riding, which will see him miss the first two days, ruling him out of rides on leading Goodwood Cup and Sussex Stakes contenders Stradivarius and Without Parole.
Dettori’s original ten-day ban would have ruled him out of the whole week but it has been reduced to six days so he can ride from Ladies’ Day onwards.
Eade, who hopes for a total attendance of more than 100,000, said: “We’re set for a week of fantastic racing.
“Ticket sales had a bit of a lull during the World Cup but are now picking up nicely.
“I think a lot of people have left it late to make plans this year but we’re hoping the fine weather will convince many more to come racing.
“Apart from the watering of the track, the heatwave does give us other challenges.
“There will be extra shade provided, plenty of water for race-goers, horses and staff and of course we will be ready to deal with any first-aid issues that arise.”
Race-goers can expect tight security in the wake of the public disorder that marred the season opener in May, with bag searches at entrances meaning people should allow extra time to get in.
* Get all the build-up and festival coverage at www.chichester.co.uk/sport and in next week’s paper.