Goodwood bosses are looking forward to an international invasion next year after a host of overseas racehorse owners and trainers lapped up Glorious week.
This year’s Qatar Goodwood Festival felt like a breakthrough for the racecourse as horses from Japan, the USA and Europe were brought to the South Downs after years of campaigning by bosses.
The big news of the week was a win for the track’s first Japanese runner. Deirdre’s win in the £600,000 top-grade Qatar Nassau Stakes is set to attract more horses from the country next year after the race was shown live there and sparked huge interest.
In addition, many Australians with links to racing were at Goodwood for much of the week and were enthused by what they saw.
With the £2m-plus-a-year Qatar sponsorship of the festival now secure until 2024, Goodwood chiefs believe they have the platform to make Glorious bigger and better than ever.
Goodwood managing director of sport Adam Waterworth said it was a fabulous week topped off by the Japanese success.
That came on the same day that the Magnolia Cup ladies’ charity race made headlines as 18-year-old London student Khadijah Mellah won just a few weeks after riding a racehorse for the first time, becoming the first person to ride on a British racecourse wearing a hijab.
Waterworth said: “To have just one of those stories occurring would have been wonderful – to have both within a couple of hours was unbelievable.
“We were delighted to have Khadijah just taking part, and the same was true of Deirdre, our first Japanese runner. For them both to then win was out of this world.
“We’ve been trying for a number of years to get a runner from Japan – it’s an important market for us, possibly the most important. We hoped the horse might get a place but her win was more than we could have hoped for.
“The trainer has been trying for a Group 1 victory and for them to bring Deirdre over here was a big shout. There’d been no Japanese winner in this country for 19 years. Now we have to believe more from Japan will want to come and try their chances. We’ll certainly be going all out to try to make that happen.
“We had an American runner (Maven) and although it wasn’t the best performance, the trainer Wesley Ward loved it here and said he’d be back. We had many people here, and quite a few runners, from different European countries and for a couple of nights the Goodwood Hotel seemed to have more Australians staying than English people.
“They had a ball and we can expect plenty of representation from Australia next year.”
Overall it was a fine festival week with just shy of 100,000 racegoers attending. Highlights included wins for Stradivarius in the Goodwood Cup and Battaash in the King George Stakes – both completing historic three-years-in-a-row victories – and Too Darn Hot’s win in the Sussex Stakes.
Waterworth said: “We couldn’t have asked for a better week, I don’t think. We saw some returning heroes like Stradivarius and Battaash, the sort of horses the Goodwood crowd love to welcome back, and with both of them, there’s even the chance they could come back next year and each bid for four in a row which would be phenomenal.
“We’ve had good feedback from the public so far although have yet to do the full review.”
After a bit of respite for the turf, Goodwood hosts three days of bank holiday racing action, from Friday to Sunday, August 23 to 25, incxluding the Group 2 Celebration Mile on the Saturday.