GOODWOOD’S August bank holiday festival is going from strength to strength.
Despite a dodgy weather forecast, nearly 30,000 people packed into the racecourse for three days of high-class racing and family entertainment.
A crowd of around 6,000 on Friday was doubled on both Saturday - despite gloomy conditions - and Sunday, which happily saw the sun come out to give the event a perfect finale.
Racecourse MD Adam Waterworth declared himself delighted with the success of a weekend which saw some scintillating performances on the track and a bigger range of off-track fun for families than ever before.
The racing highlight was Afsare’s impressive win in the Group 2 Betfair Celebration Mile - one of two £100,000 races which gave race-goers something to get excited about on a damp and un-summer middle day of the festival.
Saturday was also a day for returning Goodwood winners - with Amazing Maria, Magic City and Harris Tweed all coming back to show previous wins on the course were no fluke.
Friday and Sunday’s racing was lower-key but absorbing nonetheless.
Waterworth said: “It was a really good weekend. Each day was up on last year numbers-wise which is great news.
“And I thought the racing was of a high standard. We were a little worried on paper about the Prestigge Stakes, the Group 3 on Saturday, but what a display by Amazing Maria for Ed Dunlop - she’s one to watch out for in the future.
“The Celebration Mile was an intriguing race and it was lovely to see a couple of horses who’d won at Glorious come back and do it again in other races - our crowds love ones like that they can back and back again.
“Saturday’s weather could have been a lot better but we still had 12,000 people in, and on Sunday, although it looked iffy in the morning, it turned into a beautful afternoon and the Lennox Enclosure was packed.”
Goodwood staff upped the amount of fairground rides and other sideshows they put in place, while the beach - complete with deckchairs and bathing beauties posing for photos - helped bring to life the theme of traditional British seaside holidays.
Waterworth said the three-day holiday festival was here to stay.
“This was the second year of putting the Friday, Saturday and Sunday together - previously we just ran the Saturday and Sunday - and it’s great to see it building year on year. That’s what you want from a festival like this.
“Our May and August bank holiday festivals are both very important parts of our calendar either side of Glorious and there’s no reason why next year’s can’t be bigger and better again.”
There are only three single fixtures left at Goodwood now this year but Waterworth promised there’d be no early winding-down of efforts to deliver top-quality racing.
“Over the final three fixtures we could still have 25,000 people coming in, so we won’t allow standards to drop.
“We race again next Tuesday (September 3) when the highlight will be the Peter Willett Stakes - the man himself is a Goodwood and racing stalwart and he will be here to present the prizes.”