Storm has gone - now will Goodwood members be dancing with Moonlight?

Goodwood Moonlight on the gallops at Angmering   Picture by Bev Downie
Goodwood Moonlight on the gallops at Angmering Picture by Bev Downie

WHENEVER one era ends for the Goodwood Racehorse Owners’ Group, another one is about to start.

The syndicate, which gives up to 175 people at a time the chance to sample racehorse ownership, buys a yearling at the end of each year and has it for two years before selling at the end of its three-year-old campaign.

So it is that members are preparing to bid farewell to another of their success stories – the three-year-old filly Goodwood Storm, a well-bred daughter of Shamardal – who has rewarded their faith in her with one win, one second place and three thirds from ten starts in the past 14 months.

At the same time, a new scheme is being launched to coincide with the purchase of their latest potential star of the track – a bay colt by Kodiac out of Insieme for 40,000 guineas.

It’s 21 years since the Duke of Richmond decided members of Goodwood’s Richmond Enclosure should be given the opportunity to own a racehorse – or least part of one. Since then no fewer than 12 horses have carried the familiar Goodwood red and yellow livery to wins for their owners.

Last year GROG celebrated an investment coup when dual winner Goodwood Mirage, bought for the 19th GROG scheme, sold for 380,000 guineas having been bought just two years earlier for 27,000.

That’s always going to be a hard act to follow but the beauty of racehorse ownership is that you never know when you will strike lucky or find a horse in a million. And Goodwood Storm has certainly done her bit to keep the group’s fortunes on an upward turn.

Fine runs at Kempton, Lingfield and Sandown – sometimes in the face of bad draws – showed what she could do and GROG members were jubilant last month when she won the Thomas Prior Memorial Maiden Stakes at Yarmouth with Andrea Atzeni riding the evens favourite.

Angmering trainer William Knight, who has taken over as the GROG trainer following the retirement of John Dunlop, was delighted with a win he felt her progress over the year had been building up to.

Goodwood Storm ran at Kempton Park last Tuesday, finishing fifth, and is due to head to the sales this week.

Waiting in the wings now for GROG is the two-year-old Goodwood Moonlight. Bred by Biddestone Stud, this son of HH Aga Khan’s Azamour has shown plenty of promise on the gallops at Lower Coombe Stables.

GROG racing manager Gail Brown admitted the Goodwood Mirage success story –and profit he earned – was a hard act to follow.

She said: “Our stats are actually very good over 20 years considering we buy one horse a year. Of course when you have a horse you buy for 27,000 guineas and sell for 380,000 guineas, people sit up and take notice. But maintaining that interest is not easy.

“Goodwood Storm, our three-year-old, has been placed a number of times now and it was smashing to be with her at Yarmouth. It was important to get that win into her and get her a bit more market value.

“She won as she liked at Yarmouth – she really won at a canter. We had a mission. We wanted to win with her and the Yarmouth race was the right one.

“Goodwood Moonlight is our two-year-old but rather like Goodwood Mirage as a two-year-old, he had lots of niggly little problems. But William is pleased with him.

“How he’ll fare we just don’t know – will he be another Goodwood Mirage? The unpredictability is half the fun of it, really.”

Knight said of Goodwood Moonlight: “He has terrific presence and floats over the ground at home. He has been a little immature, but I am more than happy with him and he could have a bright future.”

Connections say he going nicely but is babyish and needs race experience, and will be a stronger and better horse next year.

Brown said shares in the new GROG scheme were being bought at a healthy rate. “We put the price up a little but it is still only £960 for a two-year share. That is just to give us a little bit more freedom at the sales.

“Richard Frisby and I, who buy the horses, have missed out in the past on some quite nice horses because we didn’t quite have enough to buy them. Having a little more in the budget is no guarantee but can give us a bit more flexibility.

“And there is so much that members get over the two years that it is very good value –there’s a lot of racing visits and trips and people have a lot of fun.

“I’m delighted by the way GROG has evolved. We have some members who wouldn’t miss signing up every year. They love it for the social side and the racing.

“We had a visit to Crimbourne Stud near Wisborough Green last month and the members learnt about yearling inspection and what to look for so there is an educational angle to it.

“We run trips abroad, too, which we always mix with some sort of quality racing. We went to the Swiss Derby this year and we’re due to go to the Indian Derby im Mumbai next January. We’ve been to Casablanca and often look for quirky places.”

To find out about shares in the 22nd GROG scheme, visit www.goodwood.com and look for racehorse ownership, call Goodwood on 01243 755029 or talk to racing manager Gail Brown on 07860 361444.