Goodwood August Festival kicks off with a first

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Sixteen-year-old jockey Luke Leadbitter got Goodwood’s three-day August Festival off to a fairytale by winning the Chichester Observer Handicap Stakes - only to have the limelight taken by a rider 26 years his senior.

The rookie was riding in only his third senior race but did everything right on Illustrious Prince, trained by his stepdad Declan Carroll, to take the £5,000 contest.

Afterwards Observer sports editor Steve Bone presented him with a bottle of Veuve Clicquot champagne - and warned him not to drink it until he was old enough.

Leadbitter said he was delighted to notch his first win at a track like Goodwood and said he hoped it was the first of many.

He follows in esteemed footsteps in getting his first victory at Goodwood - Frankie Dettori enjoyed his first UK success at the course on Lizzy Hare nine years before Leadbitter was even born.

Illustrious Prince (7/2) was a half-a-length victor over Sarangoo, an 11/1 chance ridden by Matthew Lawson.

But after youth had its moment, experience took over in the form of 42-year-old Franny Norton as he rode a sensational three-timer in three straight races.

Norton’s first two wins were for Mark Johnston, putting the Middleham maestro two clear of Richard Hannon in the race to be Goodwood’s top trainer of 2012. Hannon has won the prize for the past four years but Johnston looks a good bet to wrestle it off him this season.

First Norton guided 6/1 chance Opt Out to a four-and-a-half-length win in the Greene King Nursery Handicap Stakes, holding off Sophie Doyle on Michael’s Song (6/1) with ultimate ease.

Next Norton was a four-length winner on Modernism, the 6/4 favourite tipped on Friday morning on this website, in the Chichester City Stakes.

And he completed a memorable hat-trick in the Greene King Maiden Stakes on the Andrew Balding-trained Pearl Castle (9/2).

Clerk of the course Seamus Buckley presented the Liverpool veteran with a bottle of champagne (as pictured above - photo by Clive Bennett).

We were back to the other end of the age scale in the Portsmouth News Stakes as up-and-coming star of the saddle Raul Da Silva took the honours on the veteran runner The Cayterers, a ten-year-old who was doing the business with a first win in three years for trainer Tony Carroll. It was a memorable 25/1 victory for them here.

After the mist, murk and rain descended, leaving only the final couple of furlongs visible to the hardy crowd members who remained, Sussex rider Jim Crowley won the last, the Leapordstown Racecourse Members’ Stakes, on I See You (5/1) for Marlborough handler Peter Makin.

The weather forecast is better for day two of the August Festival, which features the Group 2 Betfair Celebration Mile and the Group 3 Prestige Stakes.

Sunday’s forecast is better still for the final day of the festival, a family fun day which will see the funfair and beach set up at Goodwood to re-create the feel of a 1950s British holiday resort, come into its own.

See tips and a preview for each day on the morning of racing - and results and a report later each day.

Tickets for all enclosures for both days will be available on the day - call 01243 755055 or visit for enquiries.