GOODWOOD’S August Bank Holiday festival was declared a big success after just about surviving a poor weather forecast.
As it turned out, there was more sunshine than showers over three days in which some top-class racing was complemented by a wide range of family entertainment off the track.
Racecourse MD Adam Waterworth said: “Obviously the weather did us no favours at all on Friday or Saturday morning, but the racing itself was first class. We were really pleased with the Betfair Celebration Mile and the quality of racing, even if the result was a bit of a surprise!
“On Sunday, when the sun eventually came out it was a great day for everyone. It was nice as this year was the first of our summer holiday theme so it was nice to have the weather to compliment it.
“Overall we were pleased with how the weekend went, but it would have been nice to have had the sun for the first two days as well – the weather is something, though, that we can’t control.”
Friday night brought the smallest crowd after a rainy day but most of the evening stayed dry before mist and murk descended for the final couple of races.
Those who did go were treated to an absorbing night’s action, including races sponsored by the Chichester Observer and the Portsmouth News, the prizes for which were presented by Observer sports editor Steve Bone.
The Chichester Observer Apprentice Stakes provided a moment to cherish for 16-year-old jockey Luke Leadbitter, who enjoyed victory in only his third race, riding Illustrious Prince for his stepdad trainer Declan Carroll.
Star of the night was veteran jockey Franny Norton, who won three contests in a row.
Saturday’s feature race was the Betfair Celebration Mile, which, as reported on the back page, went to 20/1 outsider Premio Loco.
But the day was another memorable one for the course’s leading jockey in recent years, Richard Hughes, who enjoyed a treble.
His first success was on 2/1 favourite Botanica in the Bonhams Maiden Auction Stakes, a two-length win over Jontleman. Next Hughes guided another 2/1 shot, Quest for Peace, to the win in the Windflower March Stakes (Listed Race).
Then he made it three in a row with 6/4 favourite My Sharona in the Bonhams EBF Fillies’ Stakes (Handicap).
The festival concluded in sunshine on Sunday, when a huge number of race-goers and families flocked to the Downs.
The theme of the weekend was a 1950s British seaside resort and a temporary beach complete with beach huts and deckchairs was enjoyed by all ages, who were able to eat strawberries and cream while youngsters got their faces painted.
The helter skelter and carousel in constant demand while the ice cream vendor did a good trade, with top jockey Hughes among those lining up to buy 99s.
Sunday’s action on the track was as unpredictable as the previous two days – just ask trainer Eve Johnson Houghton.
Most thought that if Johnson Houghton was going to get a winner on day three it would be with The Cheka in the feature Greene King Supreme Stakes.
The Cheka went off 11/4 favourite for the Group 3 prize over seven furlongs after placing at the top level in both the July Cup and Prix Maurice de Gheest.
He was give a positive ride by Neil Callan but no-one works the tricky Sussex track better than Hughes and he came with a sweeping late run on Producer (7-2) to finish half a length up close home.
Johnson Houghton did bounce back in the next when Catchanova (9/2) made all the running in the Anglo-Irish Stakes.
Goodwood has three meetings left this season – on Tuesday, September 4, Wednesday, September 26 and Sunday, October 14.