Glorious Goodwood isn’t just surviving - it’s prospering

The stands and concourses have been packed at Glorious Goodwood  Picture by Malcolm Wells
The stands and concourses have been packed at Glorious Goodwood Picture by Malcolm Wells

Goodwood bosses rejoiced in another memorable Glorious and declared: We’ve survived everything thrown at us.

The twin threats of the weather and the London Olympics had some predicting this year’s five-day festival would struggle to live up to its normal standards or fail to attract big crowd numbers. But so far, racecourse officials have proved the doubters emphatically wrong on both counts.

The weather has held during the early part of the week and looks reasonably set fair for the remaining three days.

And the distraction of the Olympics being held in this country for the first time has failed to prevent the festival heading towards the 100,000 spectator barrier for the week. Just over 13,000 went through the gates on Tuesday and a whopping 21,500 - up nine per cent on the same day last year - flocked to watch Frankel on Wednesday.

Glorious got off to a terrific start on Tuesday, with legendary trainer Sir Henry Cecil and Tom Queally enjoying a double in two of the big three races of the day, and continued in great fashion yesterday when a huge crowd - one of the biggest ever seen for the Wednesday of the festival - flocked to see the world’s best racehorse, Frankel, in action in the Qipco Sussex Stakes.

And there are plenty more highlights to come – not least today, when the 200th anniversary of the Goodwood Cup takes centre stage.

The field for the Artemis-sponsored race includes Colour Vision, the winner of this year’s Ascot Gold Cup. And to help make the day extra-special, Goodwood have invited past winners of the Goodwood Cup to come and help celebrate the big milestone.

Today begins with the second running of the Magnolia Cup, a celebrity ladies’ race which will precede the main card and see supermodel Edie Campbell try to defend the crown she won last year.

Tomorrow’s highlights include the Betfred Mile – in which Boom or Bust is due to be another returning champion - while Saturday’s brings the twin attractions of the Group 1 Markel Insurance Nassau Stakes and the Blue Square Bet Stewards’ Cup cavalry charge.

Racecourse MD Adam Waterworth advised anyone planning to come to the Gordon Enclosure today or Saturday to check availability and book first because they were heading for sell-outs. Admission to the cheaper Lennox Enclosure is possible on the day.

He said he was delighted – and admitted to being a little relieved – the festival had got under way without having been adversely hit by poor weather or the simultaneous running of the Olympics an hour or so up the road.

“I think we have delivered a festival that has no weak days,” he said.

“It’s not been the easiest of years to sell it to the public but we have managed and all the signs on overall numbers are that we are going to be pretty much where we were last year.

“When you consider what a poor, wet summer we have had which must have put people off booking ahead to go to big events, and the fact we are seen as being up against the Olympics, that’s a great effort.

“It shows once again that when you can put on top-quality flat racing which attracts the very best names in the sport, people will come - no matter what else is on at the same time or how doubtful the weather may be.”

Waterworth is delighted at the number and quality of entries for races across the week – and that goes for the lower-grade races as well as the feature contests.

Large fields have been seen for the handicaps, helped by the recent drier weather which has left trainers a little more certain of how the ground will end up on race day.

Even the withdrawal of a couple of hoped-for runners in Saturday’s big two – Snow Fairy won’t make it for the Nassau and Hoof It won’t be back to defend his Stewards’ Cup title – has failed to dampen spirits.