BEFORE each Glorious Goodwood, there is talk of who will be the big star of the week.
In bygone days it might have been Double Trigger, winner of the Goodwood Cup a record three times.
More recently, it has been Frankel – and this year, some thought it might be Kingman, Toronado or the Queen’s horse, Estimate.
As it turned out, it was none of them. It was Tom Cruise.
Take nothing away from those top horses – they all came and did their bit to thrill the huge crowds who flocked to the Downs for each of the five days of Glorious 2014.
But even A-list horses struggle to compete when there’s an A-list celebrity in town, especially one from down Hollywood way.
And that is why, in the months and years to come, when those who were there think back to this year’s festival, the star of films like Rain Man, Top Gun and Mission: Impossible will be the one who immediately springs to mind.
That is no slight on the quality of the racing, which would have stood up perfectly well on its own if there had not been sight nor sound of Cruise, the Queen’s grand-daughter Zara Tindall, Gok Wan and Carol Vorderman to give the place an extra buzz.
Famous faces are part of the appeal of Glorious and the scenes when Cruise made his way to the winner’s enclosure to present the prizes after the Magnolia Cup were remarkable.
The only problem for Goodwood bosses is... how do they follow that? That is for them to mull over, but in the meantime they can reflect on a festival that lived up to expectations and, in places, exceeded them. Kingman’s beating of Toronado in the QIPCO Sussex Stakes was terrific, as was the 27-horse cavalry charge, the 32Red Cup (Stewards’ Cup) taken by course specialist Richard Hughes on Intrinsic.
Racecourse MD Adam Waterworth said: “We’re really happy with how the week went.
“The sun shone for the majority of the week, the racing was first-class, the attendances have been great and I think most people will have left with a smile on their faces, which is all we can ask for.
“The week certainly lived up to expectations. The big races were great and we have had some really good winners.
“The two-year-olds’ races were particularly good this year and it was lovely on the final day to have a presentation for our clerk of the course, Seamus Buckley, marking his 20 Glorious Goodwoods.
“Kingman gave us a real highlight. He looked an absolute star to me.
“Richard Hughes was up against him on Toronado and said his horse was going as quickly as he’s ever known him go, and Kingman went past him as if he were standing still.
“I think all the Group races performed and the two-year-olds’ races performed really strongly.
“Richard Hughes and Richard Hannon didn’t have the week all their own way, although their horses ran well, and I’m sure the Hannons would say they were delighted with the winners they had.
“They had a lot of second places and their horses were running well – they just didn’t have as many winners.
“From the champion trainer’s title point of view, I should think it was a week where Richard (Hannon) thought he could make ground up on John Gosden (trainer of Kingman and Nassau winner Sultanina), and as it happens, John has pulled further clear.
“John’s another who’s a great supporter of Goodwood and the owners of the Markel Insurance Nassau Stakes winner were Normandie Stud – Nicholas and Philippa Cooper, who sponsored the Sterling Insurance race on Thursday, and they’d won a race with Wannabe Yours earlier in the week, too. That’s fantastic, and really great for them.
“And yes, Tom Cruise’s visit was another highlight. Those photos will be dug out and re-used for years to come. We love having celebrities around and he’s the biggest celebrity we’ll ever have.
“We have had some great pictures, great horses, great memories – what could be better?”
This week, the important business of dissecting Glorious has been on the agenda for racecourse bosses.
“We do a debrief after every day of the festival, but the main debrief starts this week,” Waterworth said.
“During the week of the festival, we focus on the stuff we think we can change overnight. But the issues that are longer-term we won’t have looked at until this week.
“Everyone worked very hard to make the week a success. The groundstaff worked super-hard and did a good job – all the team have, in fact, and I couldn’t be happier.
“Now the racecourse gets a couple of weeks to get ready for the August Bank Holiday Festival.
“The Celebration Mile on the Saturday is the biggest race and we’ve seen a couple of horses at Glorious that may come back for that.
“There was Wannabe Yours and maybe Aidan O’Brien’s Darwin, who ran a better race here than he’s run all season to come third in the Sussex Stakes.”
- STEVE BONE