Goodwood set for crowds of at least 4,000 in May

Goodwood’s season of flat racing will start behind closed doors – but crowds of at least 4,000 are set to be permitted as early as next month.

They'll race at Goodwood in front of a crowd in May - for the first time since the autumn of 2019 / Picture: Tommy McMillan
They'll race at Goodwood in front of a crowd in May - for the first time since the autumn of 2019 / Picture: Tommy McMillan

The racecourse’s opening two fixtures out of 19 planned this season come in just over a fortnight – on Friday, April 30, and Saturday, May 1.

With crowds not yet allowed back in sporting arenas, apart from at selected test events, the only way for fans to watch those meetings will be on TV. But by the time Goodwood next stages racing – at its two-day May Festival on Friday 21 and Saturday 22 – a crowd of 4,000, or possibly more, will be allowed, as things stand.

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Gooodwood managing director of sport, Adam Waterworth, explained: “The next step of the government roadmap out of lockdown is due to start on May 17 and as it stands we will be allowed a crowd of 4,000.

“But there is also guidance that suggests a figure of 10,000 or 25 per cent of capacity, whichever is lower.

“Whichever proves to be the case, it will be lovely to have crowds for the first time since the end of the 2019 season.” The same crowd limits will apply to the track’s evening meetings on the first three Fridays in June – (June 4, 11 and 18) – which will go ahead without the DJ sets that normally follow them.

A similar crowd will also be in attendance at the family race day on Sunday, June 6.

After that, it’s Glorious Goodwood at the end of July – and with lockdown restrictions due to end on June 21, the racecourse is planning for a ‘normal’ festival week with full crowds.

Waterworth said: “We put tickets on sale for the Qatar Goodwood Festival a couple of weeks ago and they have sold really well, as you’d expect.

“It shows how keen people are to get back to watching racing in person at Goodwood.”

Waterworth added a note of caution, saying the government roadmap could still change.

That’s something Goodwood are all too aware of, having planned to allow a crowd of 5,000 to the final day of last year’s Glorious week, only to be told 24 hours before the gates opened they could not do so.

“All we can do is hope things remain on course and we can welcome people really soon,” he said.