Goodwood bosses raring to go for new season

Racecourse manager Alex Eade / Picture by Kate Shemilt
Racecourse manager Alex Eade / Picture by Kate Shemilt

Alex Eade is confident Goodwood racegoers are in for a treat as the new season gets under way on the South Downs today.

The racecourse general manager is delighted by the quantity and quality of the fields for what has turned into an eight-race programme for this afternoon's (Sat) season opener.

There are 75 runners in total declared and one race - the last, the Long View Handicap - has been split into two divisions, meaning racing will now go on until 5.30pm.

The card includes two listed races, the Daisy Warwick Stakes and the Conqueror Stakes, and Goodwood officials are hoping for a crowd of around 10,000 with the weather set fair. People can pay on the day.

Eade said: "We have had good numbers of entries, and the quality is good too. To have one race split into two divisions is a bonus.

"There are some very good horses in the Daisy Warwick Stakes, such as Sir Michael Stoute's Crystal Moonlight, John Gosden's Enbihaar, Klassique, trained by William Haggas, and Andrew Balding's Lorelina.

"It's a similar story in the Conqueror Stakes and all in all we should have a cracking start to our season."

Eade said there had been a lot of activity around the racecourse in the past few days as the finishing touches were put to refurbishmnet work to make it look its best for the season. But he said there was a more relaxed feeling to the work this year as there was no major project that had to be finished in time, as there had been last year.

The turf has needed watering for the past fortnight after a dry spell but Eade said they were hoping the going would good, although it may remain good to firm in places.

Today is the first of 19 meetings at Goodwood, with the next ones the three that form the May Festival in three weeks. That will double up as a food festival.

Then follow Three Friday Nights, which Eade said were selling well despite a later-than-usual announcement of the acts that would be DJing.

Bosses have been on their travels across the world to try to woo connections of top overseas horses to Glorious. Eade said: "I've been to Dubai and Ed Arkell, the clerk of the course, has been to Hong Kong and to Japan. You never know what will transpire but it's looking quite promising.

"It's heartening that Royal Ascot look set to attract horses from many different countries, because the hope will be that some of those will have a European campaign that will also include our Qatar Goodwood Festival."

Sports editor Steve Bone's tips for today: 135 Cristal Spirit, 205 Enibhaar, 240 Love Dreams, 315 Open Wide, 345 Anna Nerium, 420 Qutob, 455 London Eye, 530 Takumi.

See a report and pictures from Goodwood in the Observer on Thursday