A 10,000-plus crowd for the opening fixture of the season on the South Downs delighted Goodwood bosses.
The attendance topped 10,500 as a dry if chilly dry brought racegoers out in their hordes after a near-seven-month wait since the last action at the racecourse.
Alex Eade, General Manager of Goodwood Racecourse, said: “We had a really lovely atmosphere across the course and it was great to see so many people enjoying it.
"We now look forward to the May Festival which takes place from May 23. Our Food Market will invite guests to sample and shop an array of locally-sourced food and drink, while top chefs will host a number of culinary displays.”
The track hosted an exhilarating afternoon of equine action with local trainers and jockeys showcasing their talent. The eight-race card began with the Double Trigger Handicap Stakes, where the local challenge looked strong with the favourite Cristal Spirit trained in Chiddingfold by George Baker and bred in the Meon Valley. However, it was Horsham trainer Gary Moore, whose runner Rydan landed the spoils in beating long-time leader Berrahri.
Brighton-born jockey Jason Watson maintained fine Goodwood form - he won the Stewards' Cup last summer - when successful on Dominus for Brian Meehan in the Sussex Roof Garden Novice Stakes.He said: “I have a close affinity with the track, it’s one of my favourite racecourses to ride and a real family day out for me.” Now closely associated with Roger Charlton, Watson looks like a jockey to follow for the 2019 flat season.
The two Listed contests attracted high-quality fields. The first, the Unibet EBF Daisy Warwick Stakes, provided a second win in the race for John Gosden when Enbihaar prevailed. In a race run to suit, the lightly raced 11-4 shot finished strongly under Dane O’Neil to beat favourite Klassique, with the two fillies pulling a convincing 4½ lengths clear of the field. The Conqueror Fillies’ Stakes was won by the William Haggas trained Awesometank, bouncing back to form following a below-par run at the end of last season.
Kelly rode a back-to-back double on the card when Kimifive won the Unibet Handicap Stakes over 7f; and Puds followed up for the jockey by a nostril form Just Glamorous in The Farmer, Butcher, Chef Handicap Stakes for Lambourn trainer Richard Hughes. Third in that race was the George Baker-trained Hurricane Harry, who Goodwood fans will remember as the winner of the 2018 Magnolia Cup.
Hughes reported: “We held him up today and it worked a treat, the plan is now to go to Sweden for a Listed 6f race at Malmo in mid-May."
There were plenty of chances inside the last furlong in both divisions of the Long View Handicap Stakes. Dreamweaver came out on top in division one for young trainer Ed Walker. Favourite Takumi, trained by Roger Varian, didn’t have it all his way in division two but he knuckled down to secure the win over Htilominlo.
* Tickets can be purchased for Goodwood’s May Festival from £20 in advance and children under 18 go free in all enclosures. Please call 01243 216610 or visit Goodwood.com for tickets, hospitality and further information.
See a report and pictures from Goodwood in the Observer, out on Thursday