HE was a legend of the jump racing scene for many years – but John Francome freely admits a week’s flat racing at Goodwood is one of the highlights of his year in the sport.
The former jockey will be at every day of Glorious Goodwood next week in his role as part of the Channel 4 Racing presenting team.
Few know the sport and its key figures better than Francome, who has now been in TV longer than he was in the saddle.
His insights into the big races at the festival and the horses, jockeys and trainers vying for honours will be a key ingredient as Channel 4 show four races live each day.
Francome told the Observer: “I’ve been coming to Glorious Goodwood for many years and it really is one of the fixtures I really look forward to – and it never disappoints.
“It’s five days of absolute top-class racing and the standards are so consistently high.
“Bad horses don’t win at Goodwood and I think the quality shines through every year.
“Everything they do at Goodwood they do well – there’s not another course that gets close to Goodwood, I don’t believe.”
Francome will be joined by Jim McGrath in the paddock for the TV coverage.
Also there for the station will be presenters Mike Cattermole and Emma Spencer – the latter also involved in the celebrity race on Ladies’ Day – and betting-ring duo John McCririck and Tanya Stevenson.
The channel’s popular Saturday morning show, The Morning Line, will come live from Goodwood on the final day of the festival, hosted by Nick Luck.
Francome said the whole team were looking forward to the week – and he also singled out for praise one man he felt did more than anyone to make Goodwood a big success story.
“Every part of the racecourse is superbly kept and you have to give a lot of credit for that to Seamus Buckley,” Francome added.
“I was there at 9pm one year and there he was doing the watering. He gets stuck in with his team and they do a fabulous job. They deserve the success they get.”