TWO of racing’s household names will be on everyone’s minds at Goodwood tomorrow (Friday) for every different reasons.
There’ll be sadness as everyone from trainers to race-goers go about their business at the first meeting on the Downs since the death of Sir Henry Cecil.
And there’ll be excitement at the return of a crowd favourite – Frankie Dettori – as the anniversary of his first win in Great Britain is marked.
Legendary trainer Sir Henry – who died on Tuesday – was a regular at Goodwood, and as trainer of double Sussex Stakes winner Frankel, he gave the racecourse two of its highlights of recent times.
Lord March said: “A truly inspirational figure, Sir Henry was a great supporter of racing at Goodwood with 170 winners over a period spanning more than four decades.
“He had an outstanding record of success at our festival meeting with 73 winners, and few will forget his back-to-back victories in the Qipco Sussex Stakes with the mighty Frankel. He leaves an indelible mark on racing and will be sorely missed.”
Racecourse MD Adam Waterworth said: “He was a gentleman and a superb trainer. The comeback he made when many wrote him off was astounding.”
Firmly in the spotlight will be Dettori, who’s returned to the saddle following a six-month ban for a positive drugs test.
Dettori enjoyed his first GB win at Goodwood in June 1987 on Lizzy Hare and this is marked by the Frankie’s 26th Anniversary Maiden (8.35pm) over a mile.
Dettori is due for three rides tomorrow – including Goodwood Mirage, owned by the Goodwood Racehorse Owners’ Group, in the night’s feature race, the £12,000 Bibendum Stakes, at 7.25pm.
A six-race card starting at 6.20pm precedes a DJ set by Andy Cato of Groove Armada - coming back for a second visit after his appearance last year was blacked out by a power cut.
Booking in advance is strongly advised to avoid disappointment with the event on course to be a sell-out.
The Bibendum Handicap is over just short of ten furlongs for three-year-olds.
A total of 25 horses were entered, including a number of lightly-raced performers such as the William Haggas-trained Danal Al Atheer, Epsom maiden scorer One Pekan from the stable of Roger Varian, and Persepolis, trained by Sir Michael Stoute.
Brendan Powell will be represented by dual winner Dark Emerald after the Lambourn handler secured the services of former champion jockey Kieren Fallon, who steered the colt to victory on his seasonal return at Yarmouth in April.
Powell said: “Dark Emerald has been in great form since his run at Sandown but I felt William (Buick), having not ridden the horse before, probably didn’t make enough use of him. I think he was worried about getting the trip but I can see Dark Emerald staying a mile and a half in time.
“When Kieren rode him for the first time at Newbury last year, he came back and said we need to make plenty of use of him because all he does is stay.”
Seamus Buckley, clerk of the course, said: “The course is in excellent condition and we are looking forward to another excellent evening of entertainment on the second of our Three Friday Nights.”
Our Goodwood tips: 6.20 Bravo Echo, 6.50 Ultimate Warrior, 7.25 Persepolis, 8.00 Lady Pimpernel, 8.35 Majesty, 9.05 Extrasolar.
We’ll have a report on the racing on this website on Friday night