GOODWOOD bosses brushed off a couple of days of rain-hit racing to declare their May Festival a major success.
Showers on the first two days of the three-day flat racing extravaganza kept some away but those who braved the elements saw some absorbing racing which threw up a number of horses to watch throughout the season.
And Saturday – when, ironically, the forecast was worse – the sun, and a larger crowd, came out to ensure the festival ended on a real igh.
With 6,000 attending on Thursday and 5,500 on Friday, officials were delighted to see the crowd figure top 10,000 on Saturday.
Racecourse MD Adam Waterworth said he was pleased with the success of the festival and felt that, in its third year, it was establishing itself solidly both on the Goodwood calendar and the national flat-racing schedule as a whole.
That feeling was borne out by the sight of a number of possible runners in the big Epsom meeting in a fortnight turning up on the Downs.
Chief among them was Roger Charlton’s Observational, who boosted his outside hopes of glory in the Derby by winning Goodwood’s Casco Cocked Hat Stakes over the same distance on Friday.
The festival’s Oaks trial – the Bibendum Height of Fashion Stakes – was claimed by Hughie Morrison’s Marsh Daisy, who has now been supplemented for the Epsom race.
There were a number of two-year-olds showing early-season promise at Goodwood and perhaps giving notice of greater things to come as the season unfolds – including Charlie Appleby-trained Portamento, a winner in the festival’s first race, and Richard Hannon’s Parsley, who kicked off Friday’s action.
Waterworth said: “The weather for the first two days was a disappointment – particularly the rain we had on Friday – but Saturday was much better and was actually a bit of a bonus.
“That took the cream off things a little but advance ticket sales had been very good so overall, we did well with the numbers who came to watch.
“The other effect of the weather was the number of non-runners it left us with, but there’s not a lot you can do about that when the weather’s unpredictable.
“Happily, we were still left with some good fields in terms of size and quality and I think we saw three good days of racing.
“It was nice to see the Derby entry (Observational) win the Cocked Hat and I’m sure all our race-goers will be watching to see what happens between now and the Derby.
“As for Marsh Daisy winning the Height of Fashion, I don’t think we’ll know until later in the season how strong a race that was.
“But over the three days, we certainly saw some top-class horses and I think we’ll see a number of them in action at Royal Ascot next month and then back here at Glorious in a couple of months.”
There was almost some added excitement on Saturday when one race-goer at Goodwood got to within one race win of landing a share in the much-publicised £10m Scoop 6 payout. But the punter was among many who missed out on the final race, with the jackpot eventually being shared between eight winners.
Overall, though, Waterworth feels May’s ‘mini Glorious’ is building up nicely as a festival.
He added: “This was the third year of holding it across the Thursday, Friday and Saturday and it’s built year on year. We’ll aim to continue that trend next year.”
Next up for Goodwood is the first of the Three Friday Nights this week (June 6).