Goodwood bosses head into a ‘clash’ with the Olympics insisting: The Games won’t overshadow Glorious.
The racecourse’s annual five-day festival begins next Tuesday – four days after the eyes of the world fall on Great Britain for the start of the 2012 Olympics.
Some pundits have said the hype surrounding the first staging of the Games on these shores for 64 years will put all other sport into the shade – and say that even another outing on the Downs for wonderhorse Frankel will fail to divert people’s attention away from the Olympic Stadium and to racing.
But Goodwood MD Adam Waterworth remains unfazed by talk of any threat from the Olympics and says there will be plenty of attention on the South Downs from race-goers and other sporting fans as Frankel and a host of other top-class horses line up in the stalls for a week of absorbing flat racing.
Goodwood will even doff its cap to the Olympics by showing some of the daily coverage on TV screens in its bars. But, as Waterworth put it, there’ll be no beach volleyball on the big screens because the thousands who will pour through Goodwood’s gates from Tuesday to Saturday will be there to see the racing, not the Games.
Waterworth said tickets sales for Glorious had held up despite all the recent bad weather and the fact the Olympics hype was building.
He said: “I’m not naive enough to think we will get as much coverage everywhere as we would if the Olympics weren’t being held in London.
“But Goodwood has been staging racing for 200 years and is as popular as ever as a venue for people to come to see top-class sport. That doesn’t change.
“The fact we have Frankel coming back to defend his Qipco Sussex Stakes crown is a huge bonus – there are people coming just to see what many regard as the horse of a lifetime.
“But all the signs are people are coming in good numbers to see other days too, and in many cases they will be coming for the whole week.
“The Olympics certainly hasn’t had a negative impact on ticket sales.
“In fact our festival doesn’t clash directly with many of their events. Our racing is in the afternoons and many of the big Olympic attractions on TV are in the evenings.
“And the athletics, which is really the centrepiece of the Games, doesn’t get going until the following week.
“I love the fact the Olympics are in London. I’m going myself the week after Glorious. But it’s not a fight between Goodwood and the Games.
“We’re content that our festival can hold its own at a time when there’s other sport to watch, just as last weekend’s race meetings did when the Tour de France, the Open golf, the Grand Prix and the Test match were all on TV.”
Waterworth is excited by the potential fields not just for Wednesday’s £300,000 Sussex Stakes but for all the big races, including the other Group 1 contest – Saturday’s Markel Insurance Nassau Stakes – and the likes of the Goodwood Cup, Stewards’ Cup and Lennox Stakes.
Aidan O’Brien, who leads the trainers’ standings in this year’s QIPCO Champions’ Series, and in-form John Gosden are just two of the top handlers primed to send plenty of their runners to post during the week.
Gosden has three entries for the Nassau, including much-fancied Izzi Top.
Waterworth said: “The Nassau is always a good race and opens up now that Midday, who won it for the third year in a row last year, has been retired.
“For the 200th anniversary of the Goodwood Cup, we hope to have the horses who finished first, third and fourth in the Ascot Gold Cup – and having the Gold Cup winner, Colour Vision, makes us for losing last year’s Goodwood Cup winner Opinion Poll to an injury problem.
“All the Group races look incredibly strong and it’s been lovely to hear some of the trainers talking of bringing a number of runners
“You can never take their support for granted and it’s heartening to hear the likes of John Gosden, Lord Grimthorpe and Godolphin talking about races they’re wanting to win.”
The weather forecast for the week looks steady at the moment – more settled than most of June and July.
Clerk of the course Seamus Buckley said this week’s warm dry spell had been ideal for the track.