Is that the end of the behind-closed-doors era at Goodwood?

They were another two Goodwood meetings that deserved crowds but weren’t allowed to have them.

Wednesday, 5th May 2021, 10:31 am
Updated Wednesday, 5th May 2021, 10:32 am
It was permitted officials only at Goodwood last weekend / Picture: Clive Bennett

But hopefully, Goodwood’s first two flat racing fixtures of 2021 were the last they’ll have to stage in front of empty stands.

All being equal, racegoers – albeit in limited numbers – will be back at the racecourse by the time the next racing is staged on the South Downs

The two-day May Festival, on Friday 21 and Saturday 22, comes after spectators are allowed back into sporting arenas, and that means Goodwood will be allowed to admit at least 4,000 people to each day.

The action on the track was keenly contested / Picture: Clive Bennett

It will be the first time since September 2019 racing at Goodwood has been watched by a crowd.

The track’s opening fixtures, viewable only on TV and not in person, will have whetted appetites for those keen to get back to Goodwood in person, and perhaps have given some early-season indicators on horses, jockeys and trainers who may be worth backing when those crowds do return. And there’s one name who will already be on the lips of Goodwood members – Tom Marquand.

He left Goodwood’s first meeting out of 19 to be staged this season having ridden a treble. His successes came on Canonized (15/8 favourite), Warrior Brave (100/30) and Orin Swift (17/2) for trainners William Haggas, Michael Appleby and Jonathan Portman.

Other notable winners on day one included Qaader, a 5/6 favourite who took the British Stallion Studs EBF Conditions Stakes for local favourite Jim Crowley and Goodwood’s top trainer of recent years, Mark Johnston.

Saturday brought another win for Johnston – 2/1 favourite Desert Safari winning the Download The MansionBet App Handicap under Joe Fanning, while there were doubles for Oisin Murphy and Edward Greatrex.

Murphy won on Dawndiva and Nebulosa while Greatrex triumphed on Mick Channon’s Illykato and on the 28/1 shot Fairy Cakes.

There’s plenty of food for thought, then, ahead of what should be an exciting Goodwood season.

By the time Glorious Goodwood comes around, the hope is that full crowds will be allowed.

And empty stands like those seen again last weekend will, we hope, soon be a thing of the past.