Clues to next week’s big races at Epsom could be on offer at Goodwood’s three-day May Festival, which begins today (May 24).
Goodwood hosts the Height of Fashion Stakes on Thursday and the Cocked Hat Stakes on Friday and the contests have proved decent trials for the Oaks and the Derby in past years as talented runners make the step from the Sussex Downs to the Epsom Downs.
There’s also every chance that top performers from the next few days at Goodwood could be lined up for Royal Ascot, which takes place next month.
Goodwood’s three days of racing are complemented by a food festival celebrating the Goodwood Estate’s food heritage in collaboration with a host of Michelin-starred chefs, restaurants, food experts and local artisan producers and suppliers.
Thursday’s highlight is the listed netbet.co.uk Height Of Fashion Stakes at 3.45pm, for which six runners have been declared.
They include Archie Watson’s Herecomesthesun and Charles Bishop’s Magnolia Springs
The fact we’ve had to expand the card to eight races on each of our first two days’ racing this year bodes very well for the season.Alex Eade
The card has been expanded to eight races, with one contest divided into two because of the number of entries. In total there are 75 declared runners for the day.
Friday’s feature race, also at 3.45pm and also a listed race, is the British Stallion Studs EBF Cocked Hat Stakes.
Saturday starts with two races that will be shown live on ITV4 – the listed Festival Stakes and the Netbet Sport Handicap. Day three’s card also includes the festival’s fourth listed race, the Tapster Stakes.
Racecourse manager Alex Eade said: “We’re pleased by the quality and quantity of races. It’s shaping up to be three days of high-class racing.
“The fact we’ve had to expand the card to eight races on each of our first two days’ racing this year bodes very well for the season.”
Eade said ticket sales had been healthy and with fair weather, they were hopeful of a 10,000-plus crowd on Saturday and a total of more than 25,000 for the three days.
One thing is for sure – race-goers won’t go hungry, thanks to the new and improved food festival.
In a ‘Home Grown’ area, there will be live cookery demonstrations from Michelin-starred chefs, including Goodwood’s Darron Bunn, The Ritz’s John Williams, Andreas Bagh of Marchal in Copenhagen and Phil Howard of Elystan Street.
Further demos and table talks will be given by MasterChef: The Professionals winner Steven Edwards of Etch, Martyn Nail of Claridges, Matthew Brown of Hawksmoor, James Golding from The Pig Hotel group, Brandon Clemens of Kaspar’s at The Savoy, Giles Thompson from the Earl of March, Alana Holloway of Fermented by Lab, Andy Hepworth of Hepworth Brewery, the Women’s Institute, Laura Uphill of Gwen’s Garden, Master Baker Troels Bendix, Rubies in the Rubble and Hallgarten & Frescobaldi.
Bunn, alongside farm manager Tim Hassell and master butcher John Hearne, will give demonstrations on Goodwood Home Farm produce and how the farm’s sustainable approach has shaped the dining experience in the restaurant Farmer, Butcher, Chef.
For those keen to try some of the organic produce, a range of cured meats and cheeses will be available for tasting alongside a bar dedicated to Goodwood’s home-brewed lagers and real ales.
An artisan Farmer’s Market will provide guests with the opportunity to sample and shop a plethora of locally-sourced food and drink, as well as offering family activities for young foodies.
Award-winning regional beers, cheeses and chutneys, breads and baked goods, chocolates and much more will give a rich flavour of Sussex and the surrounding area.
Across the racecourse, a huge range of interactive displays will provide inspiration for guests’ culinary exploration, with pop-ups from Little Moons, Dexam, Sparks Yard, Le Creuset, Bunnings, House of Fraser, Mirabeau and Indie Bay Snacks. An array of concessions offering food and drink will be in place.
* Children under 18 go free in all enclosures at the May Festival. Call 01243 216610 or visit goodwood.com for tickets, hospitality and further information.
Our tips for Thursday: 130 Mutawaffer, 200 Love Dreams, 235 Reckless Wave, 310 Martineo, 345 Derrymore, 420 Romantic Talk, 455 Cosmic Love, 530 Oeil De Tigre.