Bosses at Goodwood are stepping up their bid to attract international equine stars to Glorious.
Since the ten-year Qatar sponsorship of their big festival week began in 2015, it’s been their aim to welcome runners from some of the world’s horse-racing hotbeds.
It’s proved tough so far, but bosses are convinced their work to tempt owners and trainers from the States, Australia, the Far East and elsewhere will pay off.
They have their eye on a couple of elite horses in particular for the 2019 festival with senior members of staff travelling around the world to ‘sell’ Goodwood to connections.
Their global efforts will get a big boost this year when their £1m showpiece race, the Qatar Sussex Stakes, is shown – possibly along with some other Glorious-week races – live on American TV.
Goodwood racecourse gen-eral manager Alex Eade said: “We’re increasingly looking internationally for horses to attract.
“It’s a slow process. We continue to invest in this and make the journeys around the world to talk to people. We’ve been to Australia, Hong Kong, Dubai and Japan.”
Goodwood sport MD Adam Waterworth said: “You need the right connections with the right horses that fit our races and there’s a few we have our eyes on. There’s a Hong Kong horse we’re eyeing, and there’s a couple of Japanese horses we’ll have a specific aim for.
“Connections of he Japanese “super filly” Almond Eye, who won the fillies’ triple crown and Japan Cup, are talking about a European campaign.
“It’s very early days but if she made the trip we would be very keen on seeing if she would include our Nassau Stakes in her plans.
“There’s an Australian sprinter whose connections are talking about coming over. There’s an American filly as well – Newspaperofrecord, who is British-bred but raised in the States.
“She won the Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf, and her team have already stated she is aiming to race at Royal Ascot. She has to be a real focus for us – either for the Sussex or the Nassau.
“They’re talking about her being a superstar because she’s the highest-rated two-year-old filly out there but they’re very much planning a few raids to the UK so that could be very interesting.”
Eade said any American horses heading for Royal Ascot would be Goodwood targets.
He said: “The US trainer Wesley Ward has entered and declared a few with us in the past but he’s not run one yet. That’s the next step!”
Heavily involved in the ambassadorial work is clerk of the course Ed Arkell.
He added: “There’s also a South African horse if the quarantine situation sorts itself out.”
Waterworth said: “Ed is heading to Japan and Australia to speak to connections over there, but there are a few horses planning to head over to Europe this summer.
“We have to be hopeful of attracting some.”
QGF prize money will show a slight increase this year, totalling nearly £5.2m, plus £400,000 for the race for Arabian horses.
The festival runs from July 30 to August 3. Tickets are already on sale – discounted until May 31.
Don’t miss next week’s Observer (March 14) for a special report on Goodwood’s plans for the 2019 flat-racing season.