Under starter's orders at Goodwood - and Gosden is set for flying start

Goodwood stages its season opener this Saturday with an excellent seven-race programme featuring two Listed contests for fillies and mares plus the £50,000 Goodwood May Food Festival Handicap.

Coronet, who has raced consistently in Group One races on her past four starts, is the standout among 14 entries for the £50,000 Listed British Stallion Studs EBF Daisy Warwick Stakes (2.05pm) over 12 furlongs. Trained by John Gosden, the five-year-old Dubawi mare finished second in three G1 contests and third in the other during 2018, including an agonising nose defeat by Waldgeist in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud in July.

John Gosden - often in the honours at Goodwood / Picture by Malcolm Wells

John Gosden - often in the honours at Goodwood / Picture by Malcolm Wells

Gosden won the inaugural running of the British Stallion Studs EBF Daisy Warwick Stakes in 2011 with Gertrude Bell. The Newmarket handler has also engaged Enbihaar, who finished fourth in the Listed Noel Murless Stakes at Ascot in October.

See some of the stars of the early flat-racing season in photographer Malcolm Wells' gallery of pictures from last weekend's fixture at Sandown Park, above

Cheveley Park Stud's Pilaster, trained by in-form Roger Varian in Newmarket, could return to the scene of her biggest triumph, having landed the G2 Qatar Lillie Langtry Stakes over two furlongs further at the Qatar Goodwood Festival in August.

The homebred Nathaniel four-year-old finished third on her 2019 return in the Listed Further Flight Stakes at Nottingham on April 10. Varian sent out the 2017 winner, Ajman Princess.

Another entry with winning form at Goodwood is Magnolia Springs. The Eve Johnson-Houghton-trained four-year-old captured the 10-furlong Listed Height Of Fashion Stakes at the track in May last year during a light three-year-old campaign. The daughter of Shamardal was sixth on her comeback in a 10-furlong Listed race won by subsequent G3 scorer Morgan Le Faye at Longchamp on April 7.

Johnson-Houghton, based on the Berkshire downs at Blewbury, reported: "Magnolia Springs has done well physically since she won at Goodwood last season. I was really pleased with her run behind Morgan Le Faye. We went over to France hoping for some cut in the ground, but it was actually quite quick. When you consider that, I thought it was a good effort, and hopefully Goodwood will get a bit of rain to help her."

Newmarket handler William Haggas has two possible contenders in Klassique, last seen out when just touched off in a G3 contest at Saint-Cloud in October, and lightly-raced Ascot scorer Alexana, who is a half-sister to high-class stayers Duncan and Samuel.

G1 QIPCO 1000 Guineas heroine Billesdon Brook is set to begin her four-year-old campaign in the other Listed race on Goodwood's Opening Saturday card, the £50,000 Conqueror Fillies' Stakes (3.45pm, 17 entries) over a mile.

Billesdon Brook captured the seven-furlong G3 Grosvenor Sport Prestige Stakes at Goodwood in 2017, the second of two successes at the West Sussex track that season, and the daughter of Champs Elysees also took fourth in last year's G1 Qatar Nassau Stakes during the Qatar Goodwood Festival.

Her trainer Richard Hannon's other entry Anna Nerium also has winning course form, having swooped late to win the G3 Weatherbys Racing Bank Supreme Stakes in August.

Indian Blessing, from Ed Walker's Upper Lambourn yard, competed at the highest level last year, capturing a G3 contest at Hamburg, Germany, in July before finishing third in the G1 First Lady Stakes at Keeneland, USA, in October, both run over a mile.

The unknown quantity is exciting unbeaten three-year-old Lope De Vega filly, Feliciana De Vega, who is one of two entries made by Hampshire-based trainer Ralph Beckett, who has won both of her starts including a Listed race at Deauville impressively at the backend of last season.

Other notable Conqueror Fillies' Stakes entries include G1 Coronation Stakes second Threading, whose trainer Mark Johnston won this race 12 months ago with Nyaleti, and dual G3 runner-up Awesometank, the pick of two entries for Haggas.

The £50,000 Goodwood May Food Festival Handicap (2.40pm) over seven furlongs has attracted 21 entries.

Goring could return to the turf after landing the £50,000 apprentices' handicap under Georgia Dobie at Lingfield Park on All-Weather Championships Finals Day earlier this month. The seven-year-old has a better strike rate on the All-Weather, but is also a five-time winner on the turf, the most recent of which came at Chepstow in September, 2017.

Moore delight at Fontwell

Johnson-Houghton revealed: "Goring has come out of Lingfield really well and could run on Saturday. He is probably better on the All-Weather, but we felt this race was worth a look at it as it is a big money race."

The weights are set to be headed by Three Saints Bay, trained in Yorkshire by David O'Meara, who scored impressively last time out in a seven-furlong handicap at Musselburgh on April 20.

Tasty line-up in store at Goodwood

During the winter months, much investment has taken place at Goodwood Racecourse. The inside of the March Grandstand has seen further redevelopment, creating a superb new betting facility and two new cafés.

Delicious Dogs, located in the Sussex Stand, will offer racegoers a fabulous array of handmade pizzas, while the Richmond Enclosure boasts a beautiful new hospitality space in Long View which provides enchanting views across the racecourse and will be open in time for the May Festival (Thursday, May 23 to Saturday, May 25 inclusive).

Hard work pays off on the Downs

Goodwood is excited to introduce its new ECO-Cup, helping forge a path towards eradicating disposables. The season ahead will see a refundable £1 deposit taken when any beer, lager or ale is consumed, with a clean cup offered for each beverage thereafter. During the 2018 season, more than 300,000 pints and half pints were served in plastic cups, leading to sizeable levels of plastic being disposed of.

Alex Eade, General Manager for Goodwood Racecourse, said: "Sustainability has been at the core of our thinking here at Goodwood over several years and, as we move into the 2019 Flat season, we will be taking bigger steps towards lessening our impact on the environment. In essence, I want to make sure that our actions today preserve that famous and breath-taking view for future generations.

"Opening Saturday is a real family day out complemented by the high-class racing. With a children's play area for the little ones, whether you are passionate about horseracing or want a really good afternoon out, Goodwood Racecourse is a fantastic place to come."

Tickets can be purchased from only £12 in advance and accompanied children under 18 go free in all enclosures. The first of the seven races, the Double Trigger Handicap, is named after the only three-time winner of the Goodwood Cup and staged at 1.35pm. Call 01243 216610 or visit www.goodwood.com for tickets, hospitality, and further information.


The going at Goodwood is Good to Firm, Good in places (watering in progress). The forecast is for the weather to remain dry with sunny spells through to racing. There is an outside chance of a light shower at times.