End of an era as finishing line looms for Seamus Buckley at Goodwood

Mon 31 Jul 2017

When the winner of the final race at this year's Qatar Goodwood Festival crosses the line, it will mark the end of an era for one of the racecourse's longest serving staff members.

After 23 years as clerk of the course, Seamus Buckley will hang up his trusty going stick and step down from the role of presiding over one of Britain's most iconic Flat racing venues.

"I'm going to be sad when I leave, but I wouldn't be human otherwise. I've given it my all and it's given back to me what I've given to Goodwood. I will always be appreciative of that," said Buckley.

"It's a family thing at Goodwood. It belongs to the Duke of Richmond and his son, Lord March. I've felt part of that family for many years.

"That's one of the special things about Goodwood - you feel part of what you do. It's something I've been proud to be involved in."

During his time at the Sussex course, Buckley has witnessed some of the sport's greatest equine stars deliver world-class displays to passionate and adoring crowds.

Ahead of overseeing his final Qatar Goodwood Festival, the 65 year-old has selected his favourite memories since his arrival at the course back in 1994.


Frankel (Sussex Stakes 2011)

"It was a joy to behold. It was a challenge and we called it the 'Duel on the Downs', with Frankel taking on Canford Cliffs.

"People were clapping him going down to the start. In all the years I've been in racing it was the first time that I had seen that, certainly at the tracks I had worked on. It was a rather touching moment and I will never forget it.

"It was something I was looking forward to. Frankel proved to be the great horse he is and was. He was an outstanding horse.

"We in the industry were very fortunate to have the experience of seeing him racing."


Double Trigger (Goodwood Cup 1998)

"He was a really good long-distance horse and he probably didn't get the praise he deserved having won three Goodwood Cups.

"After what was to be his final victory in the race in 1998, he was coming back into the winner's enclosure and he was getting a standing ovation.

"People in the March Stand were running down to see him. It was a sight to behold and it will stay forever in my memory."


Ouija Board (Nassau Stakes 2006)

"Alexander Goldrun and Ouija Board, I think, was one of the greatest races in my racing life. It was outstanding. It was like Grundy and Bustino at Ascot. It was a race that was very similar.

"They fought head to head from the three-furlong marker up the straight. Just on the line Ouija Board got up.

"It was Frankie Dettori at his best. It was certainly one, if not the best race, run at Goodwood in my time. It was a pleasure to be involved in it."


Danetime (Stewards' Cup 1997)

"Going back to 1997, there was this massive coup on Danetime in the Stewards' Cup, who was ridden by Pat Eddery.

"I had loads of phone calls coming up to the meeting, asking what the ground was going to be like and whether I'd be watering.

"Then the draw came out. It was a normal draw then, we didn't have the draw in front of the weighing room like we do today.

"Back in the '90s the high numbers were on the far side and the low on the stands side. He was drawn in five and everyone had this idea you could only win the race if you were drawn on the far side.

"I remember Pat Eddery arrived early and asked whether he should come over. I said 'no Pat, just keep straight'. He said 'it's on your head if I get beat' and I was quite nervous!

"He was a Group horse masquerading as a handicapper and he ended up winning convincingly."


Yeats (Goodwood Cup 2008)

"One of the other great Goodwood Cup winners was Yeats, especially winning his second Goodwood Cup. He was a fantastic horse.

"As a three-year-old he was winter favourite for the Derby. He was an outstanding looking horse. He was probably the best long-distance horse I've seen in my life.

"He won four Ascot Gold Cups and he was coming to Goodwood for his third and he was not quite right, so they decided not to bring him,

"That was sad as it would have been lovely for him to try and equal Double Trigger's record."

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