Goodwood’s new managing director is getting to grips with his job and admits: I can’t wait to get my first race meeting under my belt.
Adam Waterworth has been at the racecourse since last July, but until last month was working alongside the man he is succeeding, Rod Fabricius.
Now Fabricius has left and Waterworth is building up to what he believes will be an exciting season of flat racing at the world-famous venue – for him, his staff and, most importantly, race-goers.
He has already revealed plans to stage entertainment to tempt spectators to stay at the course after racing has ended at the Glorious Goodwood and June evening meetings. But he is quick to stress he’s not talking about pop concerts – and that racing will always be king at the course.
Waterworth, 39, has moved to Goodwood from a successful spell at Doncaster racecourse and has 20 years in the industry behind him. But this is the first time he has run a racetrack that does not race all year round, which he says has been helpful.
“That’s given me a period to plan, something I’ve never had before with racing all year round,” he said.
“It’s given me some creative time, time to take a step back and think about things.
“Goodwood doesn’t need major surgery, so I see my job as striking a balance between ensuring we continue to do things to the high standards we always have, while giving a little more polish to some areas.
“One thing I’m keen to do during Glorious Goodwood and at the June evening meetings is keep people here after racing, through putting on music and dance – along the lines of swing bands, traditional dance, that sort of thing.
“This is a beautiful setting so why should we expect everyone to leave as soon as the last race is over? But we’re certainly not looking to do what Newbury and Newmarket, for example, have done in putting big-name concerts on.
“It has to be right for Goodwood and we’re working with the teams across the estate to make sure it is.”
The number of race meetings this year has been trimmed from 23 to 21 – that’s part Goodwood’s wish, part the decision of national racing authorities. The two which have gone are quieter midweek cards, in May and June. But Waterworth is happy with the calendar as it now stands.
“Losing those two meetings enables to concentrate even more fully on the festival, the evenings and the weekends,” he said.
“We kick off on Saturday, April 30 with a Goodwood Garden Party, celebrating all that’s good about Goodwood. And we have two family days, which offer their own unique atmosphere: those are on bank holiday Monday, May 30, and on Sunday, August 28.
“But throughout the year, the emphasis will be on quality racing. The sport is at the heart of what we do. And with this in mind, we have made significant investments in prize money for a number of meetings.”
Ticket sales for key dates such as Glorious Goodwood’s Ladies’ Day (Thursday, July 28) and Stewards’ Cup Day (Saturday, July 30) are up on the same time last year.
Waterworth is looking forward to working with flat racing’s top trainers, jockeys and owners to assemble a quality programme on what he is confident will be an excellent racing surface.
“As Rod has always been quick to point out, we’re fortunate at Goodwood to have the support of all the top trainers.
“I think it helps that so many are based relatively close by. You have John Dunlop, Amanda Perrett and William Knight in Sussex, and even Richard Hannon, who of course has had a stunning record here in recent years, is not too far away.
“As for the course, it had a wet summer and a fairly wet back end of last year. But Seamus Buckley and his team have been working very hard and if we have a decent spring it will be in very good nick.”
Waterworth is also pleased to have the ongoing support of Fabricius, who has been made honorary chairman of the racecourse.
“Rod has been fantastic,” Waterworth said. “He’s always on the end of a phone and is coming to board meetings. He’s a first-class sounding board on Goodwood matters and the wider industry. It’s a comfort knowing he’s there when I need him.”