Goodwood reflect on a racing season to cherish

Frankie Dettori on his way to winning the Qatar Stewards' Cup on Magical Memory / Picture by Malcolm Wells
Frankie Dettori on his way to winning the Qatar Stewards' Cup on Magical Memory / Picture by Malcolm Wells

Summer suddenly seems a long time ago – so what better way to bring back memories of its best bits than with a review of the Goodwood racing season.

A record crowd of 103,457 enjoyed the inaugural Qatar Goodwood Festival and were treated to breath-taking action on course.

The Group 1 Qatar Sussex Stakes winner Solow justified favouritism when fighting off Arod to win the £1m contest by half a length.

Only the fifth French-trained winner of the race, the form was franked when he went on to destroy the field including Gleneagles in the hotly-anticipated clash in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes on Champions Day at Ascot.

Another notable winner at Ascot was the Ralph Beckett trained Simple Verse. Following her Group 3 Markel Insurance Fillies’ Stakes win during the Qatar Goodwood Festival, she has gone on to Group 1 glory in both the St Ledger at Doncaster and the Qipco British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes.

Channel 4 Racing’s Nick Luck said: “It would be hard for any sponsor to improve Glorious Goodwood, but this year’s event was particularly strong, thanks in no small part to the substantial investment from Qatar.

“The added prize funds ensured greater competition through the week; indeed, the Group 1 winners, Solow and Legatissimo, may well end the year as leaders in their respective divisions.

“While in no way losing its beautifully relaxed English vibe, Goodwood 2015 seemed to have a real sense of ambition to rival some of the world’s most celebrated racing festivals in years to come.”

Trainer Andrew Balding was equally impressed, saying: “The QGF had a great atmosphere, good weather and suitable ground conditions all helping to provide some excellent racing. Thanks to Qatar, the prize money boost at the top level was fantastic and gratefully received.”

Jockey Frankie Dettori was in many ways the star of the week with six wins. He said: “I rode my first ever winner in Britain at Goodwood nearly 30 years ago, so it was great to be the champion jockey at Goodwood for the week, particularly with it being nine years since I last won it!

“I was lucky to ride some very nice horses for my boss, Sheikh Joaan al-Thani, and it’s wonderful for him to have some big winners at the Qatar Goodwood Festival. The brilliant prize money now at Goodwood matches the quality of races and I just love riding here.”

Goodwood’s May and August Festivals and the Three Friday Nights were all highly-successful, too.

Action off the track is just as important as on it and Goodwood continues to provide entertainment at the highest level.

The season opened with the inaugural Food Festival, supported by local producers and proved extremely popular with racing fans. The racecourse has confirmed it will be returning to the opening meeting in 2016.

Friday night is music night and this year was no exception. Goodwood’s hallowed turf welcomed performances from critically-acclaimed DJs Gorgon City, 2ManyDJs and Idris Elba, who didn’t disappoint the sell-out crowd that came to witness this famous leading man close the Three Friday Nights series.

The night sky over the South Downs was awash with colour during the August Bank Holiday meeting, as racegoers were treated to a spectacular display of fireworks set to music on the Friday evening.

The curtain closed on the season with the Alderbrook Stakes. A flat race especially for jump jockeys, the contest brings the stars of National Hunt racing to the Downs to test their skills over the undulating two-mile course. The 20-time champion jump jockey AP McCoy was even on hand to witness his ex-weighing room colleagues in action.

Goodwood racecourse managing director Adam Waterworth said: “It has been a memorable season of high-quality racing and entertainment and Goodwood looks forward to welcoming you back in the New Year.”

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