NEW Goodwood racecourse ambassador Harry Bentley is eyeing up a ride in the Sussex Stakes.
The 21-year-old Sussex jockey has been named as the rider who will link up with Goodwood throughout the flat season, promotiong its programme and hopefully enjoying some success there himself.
He takes over the role from top female jockey Hayley Turner, who was last year’s ambassador.
Bentley is very much a local choice for the job - he grew up in Sullington, just outside of Storrington, and used to go to Goodwood as a child.
But one thing he wants to put right this season is a shortage of wins at a track he regards as one of the most testing around.
Bentley told the Observer: “I was approached by Goodwood six weeks ago about being their ambassador and of course I said I’d love to. It’s a special racecourse with an atmosphere of its own and I’m looking forward to working with them.
“Hopefully I’ll get plenty of rides there this season. The biggest Goodwood race I’ve ridden in is the Celebration Mile - but the one I’d love to have a crack at would be the Sussex Stakes.
“It’s a race for the very best horses around and always seems to throw up drama.
“Glorious Goodwood in particular is one of my favourite racing festivals during the flat season in the UK and I am really looking forward to working with and representing the racecourse.”
Bentley, whose biggest number of wins in a year was 47 in 2011, his final season as an apprentice, spent the first three months of the year riding for Ismail Mohammed’s Millennium Stables during the Dubai International Carnival. In January, he achieved a six-timer on a nine-race card in Doha.
Since returning to the UK, Bentley has been retained second jockey to His Highness Sheikh Fahad Al Thani, retained rider to trainer Olly Stevens’ nearby Robins Farm stables and first retained jockey to Ahmed Al Shaikh.
Bentley is set to ride in his first Classic when partnered with Lightning Thunder in the 1,000 Guineas on May 4 for trainer Stevens.
Goodwood’s new season is fast approaching - their opening fixture falls on Saturday week, May 3.
A seven-race card features the EBF Daisy Warwick Fillies Stakes and the EBF Conqueror Stakes.
Tickets are selling well - for details and to book tickets, visit www.goodwood.co.uk/horseracing or call 01243 755055.
See the Observer next week for a full preview of the opening day and Adam Waterworth’s Diary from the Downs - exclusive to the Observer