Goodwood boss issues message to Glorious week crowds

Goodwood’s returning thousands have been told: You make Glorious the special occasion it is.

Thursday, 29th July 2021, 11:00 am
Goodwood bosses said it was emotional to see crowds packing into the racecourse again / Picture: Alan Crowhurst, Getty

The racecourse has welcomed crowds back to its showpiece festival this year after the event was run behind closed doors in 2020.

And Goodwood bosses admitted it was emotional seeing racegoers back at the Qatar-sponsored week after a festival last year that some felt was ‘soulless’ because of the lack of people.

Around 12,000 were at Tuesday’s opening day of Glorious and numbers will grow as the week goes on – with Saturday on course for a 25,000 sell-out.

The week started on a disappointing note as four-time Goodwood Cup winner Stradivarius was withdrawn from this year’s race because of soft ground caused by unexpected overnight rain.

But Tuesday’s big race, won by Hollie Doyle on Trueshan, was still one to remember.

Yesterday’s highlight was the £1m Qatar Sussex Stakes, the biggest race of the week, won in thrilling style by 7/2 shot Alcohol Free, ridden by Oisin Murphy for trainer Andrew Balding and owner Jeff Smith, who held off the favourite Poetic Flare.

It was a fantastic race, as the Sussex Stakes almost always is, and now racegoers are expecting more great battles on the track over the final three days.

Adam Waterworth, managing director of sport, had said in the run-up to this year’s festival the crowds were what made Glorious the event it was – and now the week is well under way, he is more certain of that than ever.

“Seeing the crowds come through the gates after they had to stay shut last year was quite emotional,” he told the Observer.

“Having racegoers there made it a great day. The weather was quite kind, even though we’d had rain overnight, and the atmosphere was special. Sussex Stakes day was wonderful, too, and it has felt like the festival should feel – and after last year it was much-needed. I think as the week goes on, many people will realise what they missed during the pandemic and it will end up being a real week to remember.”

Waterworth admitted the loss of Stradivarius from Tuesday’s Goodwood Cup line-up was a blow but one they had to accept.

And he said Trueshan’s win in the race – a first Group 1 victory for trainer Alan King and another memorable moment for fast-improving jockey Doyle – meant it was a memorable race anyway.

“We knew John Gosden (Stradivarius trainer) was going to have a look at the course after the first race and with the ground as it was, there was nothing we could do. you have to put the horse’s needs firsts,” Waterworth said.

“But it still turned into a race with a great story. Hollie’s rise to fame has been fabulous to watch and we’re delighted to be part of it at Goodwood.

“Now we hope there’ll be more feelgood stories like it over the rest of the week.” Today brings the week’s third Group 1 race, the Nassau Stakes, plus the Magnolia Cup, a ladies’ charity race which has raised more than £2m for charities over a decade.

Tomorrow’s highlight will be Battaash’s bid for a record fifth straight win in the King George Stakes, while Saturday’s feature is the 28-runner Stewards’ Cup. Both are previewed on pages 78 and 79.

Waterworth said: “The rest of the week looks like it will bring top-class racing alongside everything else Glorious Goodwood is about.

“The weather looks generally fine, perhaps with a few showers around, and tickets continue to sell well.”

Keep up to date with Glorious tips, previews, reports, reaction and pictures at chichester.co.uk/sport