Goodwood racecourse MD: A year of so many highs - but none higher than Frankel

The team at Goodwood racecourse had a drink together after the end of Sunday’s final meeting – and it didn’t seem any time at all since the same people gathered in the same place to bid farewell to John Thompson, our racecourse manager, before the first card of the season, writes course MD Adam Waterworth.

Our 2011 season really has flown by and I’d like to think one of the reasons for that is that it’s been so busy, and so good.

When we reflect on the high points of our year’s programme, there’s only place to start. It won’t come as a surprise to anyone to hear me talk of the Sussex Stakes, and the Duel on the Downs between Frankel and Canford Cliffs, as the true highlight of the year.

While it can be a gamble putting so much energy and pre-publicity into one race of a festival, as it turned out, no-one could accuse us of over-hyping it.

Remember the reception the two horses got when they went down to the start, the welcome back Canford Cliffs got after coming second and the adulation given to Sir Henry Cecil after Frankel had won? Not only do those live fresh in the memory now, I think they will stay with me forever.

We wait to see whether Frankel will return for next year’s Sussex Stakes. It’s possible – he’s staying in training, but the vital question will be whether he is still running mile races.

Other highlights? One would be standing on the parade ring on the first of our Friday DJ nights and wondering whether anyone would actually come and dance – then watching as the dancefloor filled up in minutes as Boy George started his set.

And my other highlight would be Midday’s win in the Nassau Stakes on the final day of Glorious. Winning that race three years is a row is an astounding achievement, yet it was a little overshadowed by what Midday’s aforementioned stablemate had done three days earlier.

It’s been a fabulous first year for me as managing director and I’d like to pay tribute to all the team. A few of us are still relatively new to the racecourse but thanks to a real team effort, we made the season a success. It’s been great having my predecessor, Rod Fabricius, around in a non-executive role, and having John Thompson on the end of a phone too.

What those two don’t know about Goodwood isn’t worth knowing.

Operations manager James Crespi is another newcomer like me and deserves much credit – the Friday DJ nights which worked so well were largely his responsibility.

Then there’s clerk of the course Seamus Buckley: what can you say about him that’s not been said already? He and his team had a challenging year with unpredictable weather but kept the course in first-class condition throughout.

Now the planning for 2012 is well under way.

We’re still finalising a fixture list which will see us stage 20 meetings and we’re committed to staging the Friday nights with DJs again.

There’s some tweaking of the Glorious itinerary to be done – the Friday, in particular, needs some attention in my view – and we’re also looking at putting more into some of the post-Glorious meetings.

We have some top-class races in the latter part of the season, like the Supreme Stakes and Prestige Stakes, but they can get a little forgotten once Glorious has come and gone.

- Adam Waterworth

* Diary from the Downs with Adam Waterworth returns next spring - in the meantime Don’t miss Focus on Fontwell with the course’s executive director Phil Bell - in the Observer, on the first Thursday of every month.