They came to see how many wins Richard Hannon and Richard Hughes could rack up on the opening day of Glorious Goodwood – but ended up saluting a less familiar line-up of victors.
The trainer-jockey partnership so synonymous with success at the festival were out of luck on day one, and it was in the feature race where their failure to clinch a place at the No1 post was probably the most surprising.
Instead it was Adam Kirby on Es Que Love taking the plaudits after winning the Group 2 bet365 Lennox Stakes on 7/1 chance Es Que Love for in-form trainer Clive Cox.
The five-year-old got up by a neck to defeat odds-on favourite Toormore and Cox said: “I’m delighted to win this because we’ve missed out a couple of times before with Dunelight and it’s a race I’ve always wanted to win so it’s nice to get it in the bag.
“We’ve won a Group Two and he’s well-entered now for the rest of the year. I’m not sure where we’ll go but he’s versatile on trip, he’s even run over five furlongs but I think this is his best distance.
“He is versatile in that he is quick enough for six furlongs but is clearly able over seven. I think this is his ground today - he enjoyed that very much. He is in the Hungerford and the Park Stakes and we will see how we go in between. .
“I am so pleased. I have a great team at home - Kevin Harris rides him at home every day. We came here with that confidence - we knew that we had to ride him a little bit more patiently - and Adam did a super job.
“He has always been a good horse and I am just grateful to have a horse of this calibre in the yard. That’s how he works at home in the morning and we just wanted to bottle it and bring it here today.”
It was a 24th Goodwood win for Cox and his seventh at Glorious Goodwood.
The result gave Kirby’s excellent season another peak and he said: “I’m really pleased with him, but coming here we felt he had a massive chance. He does travel very strongly, and he came there on the bridle, but it’s never easy to time it just right at this track.
“Last time [when third over six furlongs at Newbury] we learned a lot about him - he’s not ungenuine, but we just wanted to play him a bit later today and it has paid off, although the gap didn’t really come any earlier than we wanted. Clive has done a really good job with him and everything has gone well.
“The season is going really well - Clive is a big supporter and I have a lot of people around me that help out. The horses are in good form, so long may it last.”
Meanwhile trainer Hannon remains confident Toormore can make his mark at Group One level again following his neck second.
The three-year-old, who was the champion two-year-old of Europe last season, had not run up to expectations since winning the Group Three Craven Stakes at Newmarket in April. He was last seen finishing sixth of seven in the Group One St James’s Palace Stakes over a mile at Royal Ascot.
Hannon said: “Toormore has run a good race. It probably suited the winner because he has better turn of foot.
“Our horse has run better than he did at Ascot, so we will probably look at something similar.”
No trainer or jockey notched a double on day, meaning the race to be top operators for the festival are still wide open.
Ryan Moore is many people’s choice to be leading jockey and he registered a win on Extremity in the bet365 Stakes.
Meanwhile Goodwood MD Adam Waterworth was the only one of our five tipsters to find a winner on the opening day.