Goodwood’s good start - and lots to look forward to

George Baker on his way to his second win on Goodwood's opening day, on Arab Dawn   Picture by Malcolm Wells 141259
George Baker on his way to his second win on Goodwood's opening day, on Arab Dawn Picture by Malcolm Wells 141259

Goodwood bosses said the opening day of their 2014 season couldn’t have gone better.

The sun came out - and so did the crowds - as some thrilling flat racing marked the start of what promises to be another season to cherish on the Downs.

And their delight at their opening fixture was added to elsewhere - by the sight of some decent runners in the Guineas meeting at Newmarket who they’re hopeful of attracting to Glorious Goodwood.

A crowd of 9,000 - well up on last year - flocked to the racecourse on Saturday to see some spruced-up stands and concoursesa and enjoy some abosorbing races.

Racecourse MD Adam Waterworth said: “It was a lovely start to the season. In the last couple of years, the weather hasn’t been very helpful to us for this fixture but this year it couldn’t have been much better.

“We had a good-sized crowd in and the whole day just felt right - the atmosphere was great, the place looked a picture and the ground was brilliant and was appreciated by jockeys and trainers.

“However much preparation you put into the start of the season, it’s not until you open the gates to the public and put some racing on that you know how it’s going to go, but I’m pleased to report that we don’t have a long list of things to put right!”

It was a great start to the Goodwood for trainer Roger Charlton and jockey George Baker, who each notched a double to put down an early marker for the campaign.

Waterworth tipped Charlton’s listed winner Be My Gal - ridden by Hayley Turner - to have a good season and said better judges than him had suggested the Group 3 Oak Tree Stakes at Glorious Goodwood could be a target for her and her connections.

The Goodwood team also have their eye on luring some of the runners who made headlines at Newmarket at the weekend.

Richard Hannon and Kieren Fallon teamed up for a surprise 40/1 winner of the 2000 Guineas - Night of Thunder, who won at Goodwood on the final day of the 2013 season and could return for the Sussex Stakes. The 2000 Guineas runner-up Kingman, trained by John Gosden, is another that bosses would love to see in that £300,000 showpiece race.

Meanwhile, the first two in Sunday’s 1000 Guineas - the French-owned Miss France and Olly Stevens-trained Lightning Thunder, the latter having numerous connections who are big Goodwood supporters - are also on their radar.

Waterworth said: “It’s fair to say any horses that go well in the Guineas and stay aimed at a mile and don’t go for the Derby are possible contenders for the Sussex Stakes, entries for which will be revealed before the end of May.”

Before Glorious comes into focus, Goodwood stages the third year of its May Festival (May 22-24) and Waterworth said plans were coming together nicely.

Next week, new glass-sided hospitality boxes will be constructed on top of the Charlton Stand offering superb views right across the racecourse and beyond.

STEVE BONE