Goodwood: Our practice run was a success - let's hope we can let people in for Glorious
Goodwood bosses reflected on two successful race meetings behind closed doors and said: We’re ready for Glorious.
They believe the two eight-race cards they hosted on Sunday and Monday proved to the authorities they could safely stage racing while adhering to strict new social distancing and health protection rules and laws.
They admitted it was an odd atmosphere, but said they could now start to plan for the big Qatar Goodwood Festival week at the end of July – while still hoping that, by then, they will be allowed to welcome racecourse members through the gates.
The build-up to Glorious week has been boosted by a number of trainers of top-performing horses saying some of Goodwood’s big races are next for their stable stars.
As Royal Ascot stages its five-day festival in front of empty stands this week, Goodwood staff are reflecting on having come through two days that were effectively a practice run for Glorious.
A total of 16 races were safely put on, all televised by ITV or Racing TV, and Adam Waterworth, managing director of sport at Goodwood, said the fixtures had been a success.
“The British Horseracing Authority and Racecourse Association have done a lot of work coming up with guidelines and rules and our team did very well in ensuring they were all kept to. It’s all very strict,” he said.
“There were temperature checks for everyone at the entrance and tight rules inside the racecourse about who can go where, and when.
“Everything was followed and everyone behaved properly.
“And I thought the racing was very good, which I hope came across well on TV.
“I think there were eight of us in the March Stand watching the Cocked Hat Stakes, which given that is one of our biggest early-season races, was very, very strange.”
Pictures from Goodwood's Sunday racingJockeys, officials - and even horses - keep their distance at GoodwoodWaterworth praised clerk of the course Ed Arkell and his team for getting the track in tip-top condition and adapting their work to make sure new rules were kept to – especially in the weighing room, where social distancing is tricky to arrange.
With Glorious now just six weeks away, Goodwood bosses have been heartened by news of some exciting runners set to head to the festival.
Irish 2000 Guineas winner Siskin, owned by Prince Khalid Abdullah, and Ascot Queen Anne Stakes winner Circus Maximus, traind by Aiden O’Brien, are both in line for the Qatar Sussex Stakes, the festival’s centrepiece.
Super sprinter Battaash, trained by Charlie Hills, won the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot and is now set to bid for a fourth straight King George Stakes win at Goodwood.
Also set to go for a fourth win in succession in a Glorious contest is Goodwood Cup treble winner Stadivarius – as long as the John Gosden-trained stayer comes out of today’s (THursday) Ascot Gold Cup in fine fettle.
Waterworth said: “It’s great to hear connections talk of Goodwood as their next step. If we can welcome back Battaash and Stradivarius for their respective bids for four in a row, and have horses like Siskin, Circus Maximus and possibly Pinatubo coming for the Sussex, that’s wonderful.”
Goodwood officials are keeping a keen eye on how the government continues to relax the lockdown in England. They hope some or all of their 4,000 racecourse members will be allowed in.