European racing bosses will say yes or no next week to plans to add a third Group 1 race to Glorious week and alter the day on which two big contests are run.
The proposals mean Big Orange’s bid for an historic third straight Qatar Goodwood Cup success could be in a Group 1 race – and on the opening day of the first £5m-plus Glorious.
And taking the Goodwood Cup’s place on the Thursday – Ladies’ Day – could be the Qatar Nassau Stakes, switched from Saturday.
The upgrade to top-level status for the Goodwood Cup and the switching of days for the two contests are being proposed by the racecourse’s bosses. And they should find out next Monday which plans, if any, have been approved.
It’s part of ongoing efforts to keep pushing the Qatar Goodwood Festival further up racing’s pecking order.
Any suggestion that does not find favour this year is likely to be proposed again next year.
The festival, in its third year of a ten-year megabucks sponsorship deal with Qatar, already has two Group 1 races – the Sussex Stakes on the Wednesday and the Nassau on Saturday.
Making the Goodwood Cup its third top-rated contest would add to the prestgious feel of the week and would see prize money for that race rise from £300,000 to £500,000.
Hand in hand with that is a bid to boost another stayers’ race, the Lillie Langtry Stakes, from Group 3 to Group 2 and up its prize pot from £100,000 to £300,000.
In time, Goodwood also wants to see the Qatar Lennox Stakes boosted from Group 2 to Group 1.
The decision on all these ideas rests with the European Pattern Committee, who oversee British, Irish, French and other European racing and have to balance interests of all nations and parties.
Goodwood racecourse gen-eral manager Alex Eade said they had done all they could to get the moves approved.
But he said whatever the committee decided, this year’s Qatar Festival would have a record amount of prize money – a shade over £5m, up from £4.9m last year.
Eade said: “The festival is very successful each year and Qatar’s involvement has taken it up several notches.
“But you can’t stand still and we are constantly looking to improve the event as a racing spectacle.
“We feel the Goodwood Cup is effectively a Group 1 race and that is why we have pushed for the upgrade.
“We feel moving the Goodwood Cup to the Tuesday and the Nassau – a top fillies’ race, of course – to Ladies’ Day would give the week a nicer balance, leaving the Stewards’ Cup the focus of the Saturday.”
Goodwood’s MD of sport Adam Waterworth has travelled the globe this winter trying to tempt international owners and trainers to the festival. But Ede said the racecourse was also keen to broaden its appeal to connections at the other end of the scale.
This year’s festival runs from August 1 to 5 and part of each day’s card will be shown live on ITV Racing.
Away from Glorious, the course will stage another 14 days of racing during the season, starting on Saturday, May 6 and ending on Sunday, October 15. Fixtures include the May and August festivals, the Three Friday Nights series of racing and music.
Read more about the new Goodwood season next week.
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