GOODWOOD boss Adam Waterworth felt the track’s May Festival overcame bad weather and a lack of numbers in one of its feature races to remain on course to become a key part of their annual calendar.
Adam Waterworth said wet and cold conditions on the second day of three on the Downs - coupled with the fact the listed Casco EBF Cocked Hat Stakes was left with only two runners - were disappointing.
But the racecourse managing director said good-quality racing across the three days, capped by the final day seeing the best weather and the biggest crowd, close to 10,000, meant the festival could be declared an overall success.
In all, close to 25,000 flocked to the festival, which was in its second year. And with Waterworth believing a new event like this needs three years to become firmly established on the racing calendar, that’s not a bad number.
Friday’s two-horse race for the Cocked Hat Stakes was a talking point. A reasonable number of original entries was reduced to three after final declarations - then Jeremy Noseda’s Fantastic Moon was withdrawn on the morning of the race.
That left the favourite, the Ed Dunlop-trained Contributer, to do battle with Sir Henry Cecil’s Disclaimer - and an absorbing duel in which both had the lead at different times eventually went to the latter, ridden by Tom Queally. See our video of the end of the race at the top of this article.
Waterworth said: “It’s disappointing to have only two runners in any race but it can happen in listed contests. You are after the better horses so there are fewer potential runners - and sometimes the presence of one very good horse can put off others.
“Yet it was still a great race to watch, and I think only when we see what either of those two goes on to achieve this season will we be able to judge how good. It’s possible we might see Disclaimer back at Glorious Goodwood.
“And we’re not going to not run the Cocked Hat Stakes next year because of it. We’d be confident of attracting a decent field next year.”
Conditions on the Downs on Friday were atrocious: a cold wind and often-heavy rain kept many away and clerk of the course Seamus Buckley said it was about as cold as he had ever known it during a season. Thursday was patchy too but the sun shone on Saturday for an upbeat finale to the event.
Thursday’s highlight was the listed Height of Fashion Stakes, won by Ryan Moore on Sir Michael Stoute’s 3/1 chance Elik, three-quarters of a length ahead of Richard Hughes on Richard Hannon’s Heading North.
Saturday’s card featured two more listed contests and there was another notable success for Cecil as 8/13 favourite Noble Mission - brother of Frankel - won the Tapster Stakes with Ian Mongan on board.
The other listed contest, the 32Red Festival Stakes, went to 25/1 chance Rewarded, ridden by Kirsty Milczarek for James Toller.
Waterworth said: “Saturday was a great end to the festival. We had good ground and some fascinating racing. Hopefully some who’d been put off by Friday’s rain came on Saturday instead.
“We wanted a total crowd of between 25,000 and 30,000 over three days and we got about 25,000. We’re pleased with how the May Festival is establishing itself and would hope it will go from strength to strength next year. It’s a key meeting for us.”
Saturday saw the girls make their moves in the annual bids to be Goodwood’s top jockey and trainer.
Hayley Turner, who featured in our On The Races pages earlier this month when she was named as the raceourse’s ambassador for the season, moved joint top of the Goodwood riders’ table for the season with her third victory - that on 8/1 chance You Da One in the 32Red Handicap.
And West Sussex trainer Amanda Perrett enjoyed a last-day double - scoring with Arch Villain (7/2F) in the Allans of Petworth Handicap and Saucy Minx (5/2F) in the Federation Of Bloodstock Agents Maiden Fillies’ Stakes.
That puts Perrett level with Stoute and Hannon at the top of the trainers’ table - but with 14 more fixtures to come, it’s all to play for.
They race again at Goodwood this Friday, when a six-race card starting at 6.05pm is followed by a DJ set by chart-toppers Rudimental. The evening is a complete sell-out.