Goodwood hopes to welcome runners from Japan, France and Australia

Winter goes clear to win the Qatar Nassau Stakes / Picture by Malcolm Wells
Winter goes clear to win the Qatar Nassau Stakes / Picture by Malcolm Wells

Bosses at Goodwood hope to welcome some four-legged visitors from overseas at their fourth Qatar Festival week.

They have been stepping up their attempts to add to the glamour of Glorious by naming some high-class international entries among the big-race fields.

It’s been their aim since the Qatar sponsorship of the summer week began in 2015, but is it taking time to turn interest from racing hotbeds such as Australia, the States, Japan and Hong Kong into delcared runners.

They’re hopeful the 2018 festival will see that move a step forward.

Goodwood’s managing director of sport, Adam Waterworth, went to the Breeders’ Cup meeting in the USA in November and has made trips to Melbourne, Sydney and Japan in the early weeks of this year.

He has found that racing connections at the top meetings have now heard of the Qatar Goodwood Festival and a number of them are seriously considering working a visit to West sussex into their plans.

New Goodwood clerk of the course Ed Arkell has been to Hong Kong to try to sweet-talk some top owners and trainers and is France-bound for the same reason.

Among international entries that may head to the Downs for Glorious – which takes place this year from July 31 to August 4 – are Japan-trained Soul Stirring, regarded as the most brilliant of Frankel’s offspring to date, is a potential one for the Group 1 Nassau Stakes on Ladies’ Day.

Leading sprinter Redkirk Warrior, trained by David Hayes, could line up for the Group 2 King George Stakes.

As far as stables a little closer to home are concerned, Goodwood are confident of strong support from top Irish operator Aidan O’Brien, who had a successful 2017 Glorious.

Waterworth said: “We’re hopeful on the international front but as we have said before, it is a long game. We need the stars to align as we have only three Group 1 races and have only races of certain distances that will appeal to the top names.

“Aside from Redkirk Warrior, there is now talk about them sending a two-year-old, Lucky Favours, as well.

“France will be an area of focus and we’re hopeful we will get some of the French classic generation over here this year.

“We also want Vazirabad to run in the Goodwood Cup – he won the Dubai Gold Cup on World Cup night and is one of the best stayers in Europe at the moment.”

Goodwood had hoped Australian star Winx would head their way this year, but a European trip is off the agenda.

“She will stay in Australia to aim for a fourth Cox Plate – one of Australia’s most prestigious races – and unfortunately that is likely to be it for her because she is unlikely to stay in training for another year,” Waterworth added.

Goodwood’s season starts this Saturday, May 5. Glorious Goodwood tickets can be booked at a discounted rate until midnight tonight (April 30) – see www.goodwood.com for more.

STEVE BONE