A little bit of Goodwood normality warms the heart

It was the start of three Friday nights – as opposed to Three Friday Nights.

Wednesday, 9th June 2021, 8:45 am
Friday night racing is back at Goodwood / Picture: Clive Bennett

There’s a subtle difference. The one with three capital letters is the branded name given when Goodwood stages racing followed by DJ sets every June.

Every June up to 2019, that is. The music-and-racing events were scrapped last year in the first lockdown, and crowd restrictions still prevent them this year.

Watch out for One Friday Night – starring Carl Cox – later in the summer, though.

A serene Sunday scene at Goodwood / Picture: Malcolm Wells

But while there was not a DJ in sight last Friday, nor the 10,000 crowd last Sunday afternoon that would normally have been expected for that weekend’s family or charity raceday, there was a crowd of members at both. There was a little bit of normal.

And wasn’t it great to see?

Goodwood staged 13 fixtures last year and not one member of the public was allowed at any of them. The 2021 season started in the same way but the racecourse has now welcomed back members for four meetings, with further fixtures to come tomorrow and next Friday.

In truth it’s been a low-key return to something like normal times. Crowds of 2,000 or 3,000 do not show Goodwood at its glorious. or Glorious, best, but bigger days will come – all being well in just seven weeks’ time, when it’s hoped the Qatar Goodwood Festival can have full crowds.

But for now, it’s just wonderful to see the odd Panama hat or Goodwood member’s tie as racegoers wander around the course, watching the action, having a bet, enjoying a drink or a bite to eat, savouring a very English scene.

Dare we say, some who were present last Friday probably thought it was much more pleasant than when all the dance music lovers turn up three times a year.

In time, three Friday nights will regain their capital T and N once more and everyone will forget there was a break in proceedings. And the larger crowds will come too. Many who are not members are champing at the bit to get in and you can’t blame them.

Goodwood’s 2020 season contained plenty of good racing but no-one will remember a bit of it. Many have said during this past behind-closed-doors year or so that sport is nothing without its fans. And it’s only when fans return you realise how right they are.