Magnolia blossoms to take Goodwood's Height of Fashion crown - report and Friday's tips

Magnolia Springs on her way to winning the Height of Fashion Stakes / Picture by Sam Stephenson
Magnolia Springs on her way to winning the Height of Fashion Stakes / Picture by Sam Stephenson

The weather wasn't very May-like - but the racing was absorbing enough as Goodwood's first festival of the season began.

There was rain falling for the first day of three on the Downs which Goodwood bosses regard as a mini-Glorious as some of the most promising horses around, including some bright two-year-old prospects, come south for a run which can define their season.

Day one's feature race was the netbet.co.uk Height Of Fashion Stakes, a listed race for fillies, in which the Eve Johnson Houghton-trained Magnolia Springs, ridden by Charles Bishop, marked herself down as one to watch for the season with a two-and-three-quarter-length victory over Shaherezada after going off at 11/4.

Johnson Houghton was delighted and said the horse's next target could be something in France or Ireland. She said: "She cruised into it really well and handled the track. I've no idea where we go from here. We will get home, talk to the owner and make a plan.

"She had no entry at Royal Ascot, as I just wanted to make sure she could race properly. She loves the trip and probably will get further, but we will stick to a mile and two at the moment. She is only going to improve, as she is very unfurnished still."

The opener, the European Breeders Fund Novice Stakes, went to 5/4 favourite Mutawaffer, ridden by Jim Crowley, who enjoyed a two-and-a-quarter length win over Shaybani to score for trainer Charlie Hills. Mutawaffer is now likely to head to Royal Ascot, possibly going in the five-furlong Norfolk Stakes.

Connections celebrate Magnolia Springs' victory / Picture by Sam Stephenson

Connections celebrate Magnolia Springs' victory / Picture by Sam Stephenson

The South Downs Water Handicap also went to the favourite - Love Dreams (9/4), trained by Goodwood's top trainer of 2017 Mark Johnston and ridden by PJ McDonald. Both the opening races were won by horses tipped on this website.

Sussex trainer Gary Moore saw 9/1 shot Canberra Cliffs guided to a fine win by Jason Watson, beating Lady Bergamot by a neck. Moore then completed a double - as did Crowley - as they teamed up for a thrilling win for Sing Out Loud (9/2) in the Frescobaldi Handicap.

The first of two divisions of the Oriens Aviation/British EBF Maiden Fillies' Stakes was won by Heart of Grace, another 9/1 victor, this one ridden expertly by James Doyle for trainer William Haggas. The second division went to 6/1 contender Gather, earning local glory for Pulborough trainer Amanda Perrett and jockey Pat Dobbs.

The final race was the Netbet 1Million Jackpot Apprentice Handicap and it went to 2/1 favourite Oeil De Tigre with Sophie Ralston on board for Tony Carroll - another winner for our website's tips.

Friday's racing highlight - on a day when the forecast is for much brighter weather - is the listed British Stallion Studs EBF Cocked Hat Stakes at 3.45pm, while Saturday brings down the curtain on the festival with a seven-race card including two listed contests, the Festival Stakes and the Tapster Stakes.

Steve Bone's Friday selections: 2.00 Blame Roberta, 2.35 Pastoral Player, 3.10 Talaaqy, 3.45 Highbrow, 4.20 Pettochside, 4.55 Gavlar, 5.25 Maygold.

May Festival preview and Thursday tips