Goodwood bids farewell to Buckley in style

Seamus Buckley retires today / Picture by Malcolm Wells
Seamus Buckley retires today / Picture by Malcolm Wells

Goodwood has given the legendary Seamus Buckley a wonderful send-off.

The long-serving clerk of the course retired today after 23 years looking after the racecourse and its grounds - and after an incredible 51 years in racing.

The popular Irishman was never going to be allowed to go quietly and after the fifth race of Goodwood's season finale, he was given a jockeys' guard of honour as he made his way to the presentation table in the winner's enclosure to great applause from a large crowd who had gathered to see him on his way.

He was presented with a silver salver in which a map of the racecourse is inscribed, before giving a brief interview paying tribute to all those he had worked for and with in his near quarter of a century at Goodwood.

Fittingly the sun had broken through the clouds just in time for everyone to say bye, bye to Buckley.

Buckley, who was given three cheers by the crowd, said he would still be helping at the racecourse with little jobs here and there and he said he was delighted to be passing the clerk's job on to Ed Arkell, who has assisted him at Goodwood on many occasions.

He has been at Goodwood since 1994, before which he worked at Epsom, home of the Derby. His career in racing started as a jockey but he had to give up riding after fracturing his skull in a nasty fall. He went on to learn grounds maintenance - and racing has been glad of that decision ever since.

If Buckley was one man of the moment, trainer Mark Johnston was another - he was crowned Goodwood's top trainer of the 2017 season when PJ McDonald rode Teofonic to victory in the Download The App At 188Bet Handicap Stakes, giving the Middleham trainer his eighth Goodwood success of the campaign.

He was presented with the Dick Hern Trophy and said he was delighted to win such a title in the south of England, so far from home.

The last of Goodwood's 19 meetings this year went ahead on a mild afternoon but in largely overcast conditions.

The meeting began with the Alderbrook Stakes, the annual chance for jump jockeys to test themselves over a very different course to the ones they are used to. Coming out on top was Kevin Jones, in his first-ever ride at Goodwood, who won by an impressive eight lengths on Song Light (10/1) for trainer Seamus Mullins.

The Hildon Novice Auction Stakes was taken by Silvestre de Sousa - who is set to be crowned champion flat jockey in the next few days - as he guided the David Elsworth-trained 11/8 favourite Lady Dancealot home.two-and-three-quarter lengths ahead of Kieran Shoemark on Is It Off. Lasy Dancealot was tipped on this website before racing.

The Goodwood Racehorse Owners' Group Irish EBF Nursery Handicap Stakes was claimed by Raul Da Silva on Zoraya, for trainer Paul Cole.

There was drama in the Nick Brooks EBF Novice Stakes when a photo could not separate Istanbul Sultan, ridden by Jim Crowley for William Haggas, and Loxley, with William Buick on board for Charlie Appleby. It was declared a dead heat.

Success for Hampshire trainer - a day after he celebrated his birthday and his 50th wedding anniversary - came in the 188Bet.co.uk Handicap Stakes as Pettochside, ridden by Hollie Doyle, gained his fourth Goodwood win. The eight-year-old came in at 14/1, winning by a neck from Baron Bolt.

The final race of the afternoon, and of Goodwood's season, went to 11/4 chance Noble Peace (Harry Bentley / Henry Candy).

See coverage of the season finale and Seamus Buckley's send-off in the Observer on Thursday.