Goodwood May Festival attracts Epsom and Royal Ascot hopefuls - report, pictures and video

Aloe Vera claimed the feature race on a successful opening day of Goodwood's May Festival.

The £45,000 listed Height of Fashion Stakes for three-year-old fillies - often regarded as a trial for the Oaks at Epsom - had a strong field, includiing four with entries forthe Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot next month.

But that quartet were all put in the shade by Harry Bentley on board the Ralph Beckett-trained Aloe Vera, who held off the challenge of one of two fancied John Gosden runners, Shambolic,to take the honours at odds of 11/4.

The Height of Fashion contest was the highlight of the opening day, while there's contests of similarly high standing to come on Friday and Saturday.

Delighted trainer Beckett was asked why Aloe Vera had not raced as a two-year-old and said: "She was just a bit green and awkward last year and we couldn't really train her. She was too backward. It was one step forward and one step back all year.

"We never got her on the gallops, so she doesn't know very much. She will have learnt a lot today and this race fitted well from Chepstow. We felt she worked well in between and was thriving.

Wild Thunder leads on the way to victory in the opening race of the Goodwood May Festival / Picture by Malcolm Wells

Wild Thunder leads on the way to victory in the opening race of the Goodwood May Festival / Picture by Malcolm Wells

"I'll have a chat with Kirsten Rausing (owner-breeder) and work out what to do next. She will get further, but it looks like she doesn't need to at the minute."

Our Friday tips: 150 Dream Shot, 220 Wufud, 255 Desirous, 330 Private Secretary, 405 Enjazaat, 440 Elysees, 510 All Back To Mine.

There was a surprise in the festival's opening race, the European Breeders' Fund EBF Novie Stakes as Roger Varian's 1/3 favourite Clan Royale - despite leading for most of the first half of the 6f contest - was beaten by a good ride by Sean Levey on the Richard Hannon-trained Wild Thunder (10/1).

Local favourite Jim Crowley was second on 11/2 shot Buhturi for Charlie Hills.

Hollie Doyle out in front on Apex King in the Three Friday Night Stakes / Picture by Malcolm Wells

Hollie Doyle out in front on Apex King in the Three Friday Night Stakes / Picture by Malcolm Wells

The Three Friday Nights Handicap Stakes went to another 10/1 shot - Apex King, ridden by former Goodwood ambassador Hollie Doyle for David Loughnane, beating Game Player by a length and a quarter.

Spirit of Appin took the British EBF Premier Fillies' Handicap Stakes under a good ride from Oisin Murphy for trainer Brian Meehan, beating Dono Di Dio.

The Jim Barry Handicap Stakes brought the first appearance of the afternoon from crowd favourite Frankie Dettori, who is closing in on 200 Goodwood winners. He didn't get nearer the mark in this one on board John Gosden's Sucellus. It was a good effort from the Italian to finish third, but the spoils went to Wedding Blue (4/1) to make it a quickfire double for Murphy, this win for Andrew Balding.

Dettori was in luck in the next, the British European Breeders' Fund EBF Maiden Fillies' Stakes for three-year-old fillies as a super show of pace by Terebellum saw Dettori first past the post, the 2/1 favourite showing great promise for the future and beating closest challengers Maamora and Promissory.

Clive and Debbie Jordan from Bognor enjoy the sunshine at the opening day of the May Festival / Picture by Malcolm Wells

Clive and Debbie Jordan from Bognor enjoy the sunshine at the opening day of the May Festival / Picture by Malcolm Wells

The final race, the Farmer Butcher Chef Apprentice Handicap Stakes, was initially won by Spanish Star, ridden by William Carver for Patrick Chamings at 6/1, but after a stewards' inquiry the one-two placings were reversed the race was awarded to Atlanta's Boy (7/2 fav) ridden by Thomas Greatrex for David Menuisier.

Classy line-up for Goodwood May Festival

Tasty treats in store

Harry Bentley and Aloe Vera on their way to Height of Fashion Stakes glory / Picture by Malcolm Wells

Harry Bentley and Aloe Vera on their way to Height of Fashion Stakes glory / Picture by Malcolm Wells