Goodwood racecourse staff are celebrating after recognition from racing industry bosses for the hard work they have done to improve the race day experience for visitors.
They won a marketing award at the Racecourse Association Showcase Awards for the concept of their new August bank holiday festival - then topped that by winning the night’s overall award.
Judging was by an independent panel of horse racing experts who have effectively made Goodwood the RCA’s racecourse of the year.
The marketing award - one of three titles for which Goodwood was shortlisted - was given for the bank holiday weekend promotion, when three back-to-back race meetings saw parts of the venue transformed into a 1950s-style British seaside resort, complete with beach huts and a sandy beach.
Meanwhile, the team from Fontwell Park narrowly missed out on an award, having been nominated for the successful All About The Horse race day staged earlier in the year.
Racecourse managing director Adam Waterworth told the Observer everyone at Goodwood was delighted by the awards, which were testimony to hard work over a long period to keep coming up with ideas to keep things fresh and get new people coming through the gates.
“We entered three individual awards so we went to the ceremony pretty hopeful we’d pick up one,” he said.
“We were delighted to receive the marketing award, even more pleased - and I think surprised - to win the overall showcase award too.
“We’ve put a lot of work into coming up with new ideas to improve people’s race day experience at Goodwood and it’s lovely to get industry recognition. We were up against strong rivals for the award.
“The philosophy behind the Showcase Awards is all about sharing best practice among the racecourses and during this afternoon’s event, we picked up a huge number of great ideas for us to take into next year.”
Goodwood’s Friday-night DJs-and-racing events plus their two new three-day festivals, in May and August, all helped net the big prize.
RCA chairman Ian Barlow singled out Goodwood for special praise as he commented on the strength of entries at the awards.
“I am absolutely delighted to see the breadth and depth of excellence and innovation on British racecourses,” he said.
“The winners and finalists show how our racecourses are working very hard in a competitive leisure and sport market to popularise the sport and sustain British Racing as the most varied and interesting racing anywhere.
“Special congratulations must go to Goodwood racecourse as they have consistently shown over the different entries made to these awards, what an excellent job they have been doing in improving the race day experience for guests and visitors.
“These awards are very competitive, so many congratulations to Adam Waterworth and his team on such a fantastic job.”
Waterworth said the challenge now was to keep coming up with more initiatives to appeal to racing fans and try to retain the award next year.
The Showcase Awards dinner followed on from a day of seminars and idea-sharing where racecourses were able to share best practice and good ideas in improving the race day experience.
Guest speakers included Jamie Aitchison of Channel 4 and Michael Caulfield of Sporting Edge.
A Twitter and Facebook competition run with the Racing Post for their readers to suggest new initiatives to improve the race day experience was won by Erica Wicks for her suggestion to help racegoers get ‘up close and personal with the other side of racing’ through links with local stables and racing personalities.