It had everything from dancing horses to a dead heat, face-painting to photo finishes, circus performers to a stewards’ inquiry.
And despite the weather doing its best to put a dampener on things, Goodwood’s bank holiday family fun day was declared a clear winner – unlike some of the horses that needed freeze frames to put them ahead of their rivals on the day.
Around 7,500 people poured into Goodwood on a day when Johnston Press, owners of the Observer series, sponsored every race on the card.
It was a new partnership for JP and Goodwood bosses said they were delighted to have the support of the group which owns papers across Sussex and Hampshire.
Racecourse MD Adam Waterworth said: “It was a fantastic day. Even though the weather wasn’t brilliant, it seemed like everyone had a good time, whether they were there for the racing, the entertainment or both.
“We’re delighted to have the support of the Observer series and Johnston Press for our racing.”
His thoughts were echoed by Colin Channon, editor of the Observer series and the Worthing Herald, which between had three races named after them.
He said: “We were pleased to put our name to the event and hope to support Goodwood in this way again in the future.
“The only downside was that I don’t think any of the Johnston Press staff present managed to come away with any money from the bookies!”
The Observer ran a children’s colouring competition stall, one of many sideshows busy throughout the afternoon as younger visitors enjoyed themselves.
The day’s first race was the Chichester Observer Selling Stakes, which was taken by Kieren Fox on 5/2 joint favourite The Dancing Lord.
The horse had been judged best turned out in the parade by Observer sports editor Steve Bone, who presented the race prize to the winning trainer Bill Turner. Auctioneer Terry Court oversaw the sale of the two-year-old, who went for a healthy £10,500.
Next up was The News Veterans’ Handicap and it was a real thriller. The Alan Jarvis-trained Another Try, ridden by Harry Bentley, and John Best’s Alfresco, with Kieren Fallon on board, were inseperable as they crossed the line and the race was declared a dead heat.
Goodwood clerk of the course Seamus Buckley said: “A dead heat is very, very rare. I can count on the fingers of one hand the dead heats we’ve had here in my time.”
The feature race of the day, the listed £30,000 West Sussex County Times On The House Stakes, went to Jimmy Fortune on Set The Trend.
There was another photo finish in the Worthing Herald Maiden Auction Stakes, with Patt Dobbs, riding Sir Glanton for Pulborough handler Amanda Perrett, just getting there by a short head ahead of Lethal Force, ridden by Luke Morris.
Morris was relegated to third after a stewards’ inquiry ruled he’d interfered with the progress of Richard Hughes on Minal.Goodwood specialist Hughes then found a winner in the first division of the Bognor Regis Observer Handicap Stakes, steering 9/2 shot Byrd In Hand to victory in a race split into two because of the number of entries.
Jockey Bentley was having a day of close calls and, riding Ivory Lace, he was just beaten into second place by Ryan Powell on Wishformore, the 5/1 second favourite, in the second part of the Bognor Observer contest.
The meeting closed with the West Sussex Gazette Handicap Stakes, taken by Fergus Sweeney on Robby Bobby.
* See our news section for a picture gallery from the Observer-backed Goodwood race day.