Goodwood’s May Festival kicks off

It was a sunny and showery day for the crowd at the opening day of the Goodwood May Festival  Picture by Clive Bennett
It was a sunny and showery day for the crowd at the opening day of the Goodwood May Festival Picture by Clive Bennett

OTHER trainers beware - the Johnstons are off the mark for Goodwood’s 2013 season and they’re hoping for another happy holiday when Glorious comes around.

Middleham’s Mark Johnston was the track’s Dick Hern Trophy winner last year, wresting the title from Richard Hannon, who’d taken it in each of the previous four years.

Hannon already has a Goodwood win to his name this year, but now so does Johnston after 4/1 joint favourite King of the Danes - tipped on this website - ruled the roost in style to win the Winner Plant UK Stakes handicap.

Under Franny Norton, the three-year-old led from the off and left his rivals standing as he streaked away for a six-length success over Zamoyski (9/2), ridden by William Buick.

Afterwards Mark’s wife Deirdre Johnston was delighted - and said the MJR team were hopeful it would be the start of another good year for them at a track at which they have done well over many years.

“Wasn’t he lovely?” she said of King of the Danes.

“I was hugely impressed by his zest as he came into the final furlong.”

She said it was too early to say what they’d do next after this handicap win and would wait to see how his rating would be reassessed before making any firm decisions.

She also revealed they were already making plans for Glorious Goodwood - where they had an amazing run of seven winners last year.

“We do start thinking about it in advance,” she said. “We tie it in with our mid-season holiday and the family come along. The horses love it, with the way they can front-run.”

But if the Johnstons do have their eye on retaining the Goodwood prize, Sir Michael Stoute might have something to say about it.

The Newmarket veteran notched his third Goodwood success in three fixtures when Ryan Moore guided Elik (3/1) to the win in the day’s feature race, the £40,000 Listed Height of Fashion Stakes. He is the only trainer with more than one Goodwood win to his name after three meetings.

Moore just pipped Richard Hughes on pre-race 5/2 favourite Heading North, who had led for much of the way - the lead four or five lengths at one stage. The winning distance was three-quarters of a length.

Jamie Spencer was third on the Irish-trained Harmonic Note, who went off at 6/1.

The first, the British Stallion Studs Supporting British Racing EBF Maiden Fillies’ Stakes, went comfortably to the 8/11 favourite, Kiyoshi, ridden by Spencer for Charlie Hills.

He was a length and a half ahead of Ihtimal (9/2), under Silvestre de Sousa, with Charles Bishop on our 10/1 tip Memory Styx seven lengths back in third.

There was Sussex success when Amanda Perrett’s six-year-old Head of Steam (8/1) scored under Pat Dobbs in the Wright Joinery Company Stakes handicap - denying the Michael Attwater-trained George Guru (11/4 favourite) a second win on the Downs within three weeks by three-quarters of a length.

Cathy Gannon, riding 2012 Goodwood winner The Confessor for Henry Candy, was third at 7/2.

There was a victory on his debut Goodwood ride for young jockey Robert Tart, who rode a superb Hippo Stakes handicap to take the honours on 10/1 contender Palazzo Bianco for trainer Brian Ellison.

He had to hold off a decent challenge from Rab Havlin on Cosimo De Medici - he’d back from last place to threaten in the closing three furlongs. It was the third three-quarters-of-a-length triumph of the day.

Afterwards he said: “I can’t quite believe it. He’s a fantastic horse - he took me round there brilliantly.”

Tart was jubilant to win on his first Goodwood visit: “It’s absolutely fantastic in front of a big crowd. It means a lot. To be riding here, let alone having a winner, is fantastic.”

The final race of the opening day, the Construction Raceday Apprentice Stakes handicap, was taken by another 10/1 winner, Night Trade, ridden by Eddie Linehan for handler Ronald Harris. Chevise (5/1), under Ryan Tate, was second.

STEVE BONE

See all the news from the festival on this website tomorrow

Our Friday tips: 2.00 Trinity Boy, 2.35 Flexible Flyer, 3.10 Hepworth, 3.45 Fantastic Moon, 4.20 Miss Lahar (NAP), 4.55 Auction, 5.30 Dangerous Age.