Goodwood’s season will be just four weeks away on Saturday and we can’t wait, writes Goodwood racecourse MD Adam Waterworth.
As you’d imagine, the racecourse is a hive of activity as we prepare to open the gates for racing for the first time in more than six months.
Like everyone, we’re behind where we’d like to be with the racetrack itself because of the combination of wet and frosty weather that seems to have lasted for months.
The grass isn’t growing but we’re not panicking. It was put to bed for the winter in great shape and is still in great shape now. We just need things to warm up to get some growth.
The bad winter has hit trainers as well as racecourses - they’ve not been able to get their horses out as they’d have liked. But if it does warm up - and dry up - soon, everyone will catch up.
Now that the Cheltenham Festival and Easter are out of the way and the Grand National is looming this weekend, everyone knows Goodwood’s season’s opener is imminent.
After months of build-up, it’ll be great to get that meeting - on Saturday, May 4 - up and running. If we get decent weather and some good-quality fields, it’ll set us up beautifully for a great season.
Once we start racing, the fixtures come thick and fast. We have six in May - including the three-day May Festival and the first of our Three Friday Nights which falls on May 31.
We’ve put an extra £70,000 or so prize money into the May Festival and most of that has been added to the Saturday. That should ensure it is a very strong festival.
Tickets are going well for the early-season meetings, especially those three DJ nights, where we’re reaping the benefit of announcing the headline acts much earlier.
The one starring Trevor Nelson is the most popular at the moment but we’re confident all three will sell-out in advance. It’s a concept that has really caught the imagination and got new people coming to Goodwood.
We’re busy finalising various refurbishments that will give the site a fresh look in time for the opening days.
Areas we’re focusing on this year include the annual members’ bar on the first floor of the March Stand, the Champagne and Seafood Bar, the Richmond Lawn and the Lennox Enclosure, where we’re working with Butlin’s to create a new children’s playground.
There’s plenty to look forward to and it helps that racing will be in the spotlight this weekend with the National.
With that in mind, I’m being pressed for a selection - and I’m going again with the Evan Williams-trained Cappa Bleu.
I backed him last year and he was fourth and he reminds me a lot of Hedgehunter, who came back to win the National a year after going close.
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