Officials at Goodwood were delighted with the return to normality brought about by an enthusiastic crowd over five days of the Qatar Festival.
Twelve months on from racing taking place behind closed doors, managing director Adam Waterworth felt the stories on the track helped compensate for fan favourite Stradivarius not running in the Goodwood Cup and Battaash’s defeat on Friday.
“It’s been fantastic. I’ve never before said I wanted a ‘normal’ year, but this year I wanted it to feel just that – it almost felt like it had never been away,” said Waterworth.
“We were delighted to have been the first major racing festival to welcome back full capacity crowds. The atmosphere on course has been fabulous throughout with a real buzz, particularly on Friday and Saturday where crowd levels were as good as we can remember with a sell-out capacity reached in a number of enclosures."
It was fabulous to see racegoers back in large numbers at Goodwood this week
He added: “All the stories through the week were brilliant. Andrew Gemmell and Alan King winning with Trueshan, through to Jeff Smith winning the Sussex on day two with Alcohol Free – and I’m not sure there was a dry eye in the house when Lady Bowthorpe won for Emma Banks and William Jarvis.
“We came here with all the talk of Stradivarius and Battaash going for their fifth wins – neither happened, yet I’m less disappointed than I thought I’d be because of all the other stories.
“Racing has a great way of finding these stories. It has a great way of creating a new story and that seemed to happen all week.
“The crowds have been healthy, not quite the levels of a normal Goodwood but Thursday, Friday and Saturday were about were you’d want them to be, and while Tuesday and Wednesday were slightly down on previous years I couldn’t be happier.”
There was, though, one negative story when one racegoer was arrested following an incident on Friday.
“There was just one person who spoiled it and he was arrested. You don’t want to see that and I don’t want to make light of it, but the vast majority have been brilliantly well behaved and I wouldn’t want one incident to tarnish what has been an excellent week,” said Waterworth.
All eyes turn to the Celebration Mile meeting at the end of August now, when racing’s potential new star Baaeed may return.
“If you’d told me at the start of the week the most impressive performance would come in the Thoroughbred Stakes I’d have thought you were barking mad, but it looks like we’ve unearthed a superstar and it would be great if he comes back here,” said Waterworth.
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