1.5m of rain has been challenge – but Goodwood are ready for the off

They’re under starter’s orders for a new season of top-level flat racing at Goodwood.
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The first two of the season’s 19 fixtures take place on Friday and Saturday and a healthy crop of entries has been received for each of the two race days.

Director of racing Ed Arkell admitted the extremely wet winter had presented challenges to the groundstaff but said the course was looking in good shape for the opening meetings.

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"We’ve had close to 1,500mm (1.5m) of rain since July 1 last year, when normally in that period we’d expect maybe 800 or so,” said Arkell.

Goodwood's 2024 action begins on Friday, with racing on Saturday too | Picture: Clive BennettGoodwood's 2024 action begins on Friday, with racing on Saturday too | Picture: Clive Bennett
Goodwood's 2024 action begins on Friday, with racing on Saturday too | Picture: Clive Bennett

"It’s made life difficult. We couldn’t get renovations finished when we wanted to, we were putting in grass seed in December instead of Ocrober and we haven’t been able to get on the racecourse at times when we normally would.

"So we’re behind where we want the surface to be – but it will be fine, and if it now gets warmer that will help.”

Arkell said he was pleased with the quality and quantity of entries for this week’s meetings – the highlights of which include Saturday’s Conqueror Stakes and Daisy Warwick Stakes.

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Looking ahead, Goodwood hosts two more meetings later in May, then four in June – before focus switches to Glorious week at the end of July.

Arkell said racecourse bosses had been busy over the winter talking to racing connections in places like Australia, Japan, Dubai, Hong Kong, Saudi and Scandinavia, trying to tempt them to bring their best horses to the Qatar Festival.

A highly-rated Australian sprinter – Asfoora – is in the UK with a view to running at Haydock, Royal Ascot and Glorious Goodwood, and Arkell said they’d hope for a good number of international visitors at the festival.

The Stewards’ Cup consolation race has been dropped from the Saturday of festival week and replaced with the Group 3 Glorious Stakes, switched from Friday.

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Arkell said: “The flow of fixtures throughout the season, and the flow of the festival, remains largely unchanged – we feel it works as it is.

"I think I speak for everyone at Goodwood when I say we’re looking forward to getting started.”

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