It was as if Glorious Goodwood had come early as big names from football, TV and the mystic world tasted differing fortunes on the first sun-baked day of Goodwood’s May Festival.
Ant and Dec were on the Downs to see their only horse win one race while Mystic Meg missed a victory for her runner - but Sir Alex Ferguson was there to see one of his racehorses come in fourth.
A crowd of 5,500 - an increase on numbers forecast - turned out in temperatures and sun normally not seen until the Glorious festival to watch the first day of a festival Goodwood has not staged in six years.
Clerk of the course Seamus Buckley declared the ground as perfect after taking a relatively-late decision to water after the recent short dry spell that has followed seven inches of rain that fell at Goodwood in six weeks.
The biggest cheers of the day were reserved for popular Geordie duo Ant and Dec, whose Foncey Syndicate-owned runner Primaeval won the Wright Joinery Company Stakes (Handicap) after going off 5/2 favourite with Hayley Turner on board - that on the day the top female jockey secured a ride in next Saturday’s Investec Derby.
The Britain’s Got Talent presenters were delighted with the victory. Dec said: “I think that was more nerve-racking than going in front of millions of people on TV. I was more nervous than during Pudsey’s performance in the Britain’s Got Talent final.”
Turner had also ridden a winner for The Queen in recent weeks but Ant added: “We put her under more pressure than the Queen.’
Dec said: “We’re thrilled.”
They weren’t the only household name to find a win - Mystic Meg will have been told about a small fortune after her runner Astromagick, trained by Mark Tompkins and ridden by Eddie Ahern, took division two of the Hippo Waste Stakes as the 7/2 joint favourite.
The first division of the race was taken by Mickael Barzalona on Al Khawaneej (6/1) for trainer David Simcock.
It wasn’t all win-win-win for Goodwood’s celebrity set, though. United boss Ferguson could only manage fourth place with Eurystheus, who he owns with three others, in the Hazel Wigley Memorial Stakes (Handicap).
The race was won by Harry Bentley on Beaufort Twelve, one of the bigger-priced winners of the day at 15/2.
The feature race was the Listed £35,000 Height of Fashion Stakes, which was taken by Coquet, ridden by Rab Havlin for Hughie Morrison - as tipped on this website on Thursday morning.
Morrison now plans to put her in the Oaks at Epsom on Friday week and Coral cut her odds for the classic to 20/1 after this success, which came as she held off a strong challenge from Barzalona on board Minidress.
Morrison said: “I’m very pleased. She might not have the most ability but she’s certainly the toughest. She was headed but the dream is still alive. She won’t have to do much between now and then and we’ll see what Robert (Rab) has to say.”
Coquet was one of two winners picked out on this website - Richard Hannon and Richard Hughes, so often the ones to beat at Goodwood with their two-year-olds, took the British Stallion Studs Supporting British Racing E B F Maiden Fillies’ Stakes with evens favourite Sky Lantern, the opening race of the day.
The last, the Saunders Construction Apprentice Stakes Handicap went to 9/2 favourite Amazing Win, ridden by Charles Bishop for Mick Channon.
Goodwood’s May Festival continues on Friday and Saturday - full coverage at www.chichester.co.uk with reaction and pictures in next week’s Observer.