Lightning Spear stars at Goodwood

There were racing thrills, family activities and dramatic fireworks at the 2017 August Bank Holiday Weekend at Goodwood Racecourse from Friday 25 to Sunday 27 August, all enjoyed by a huge record crowd of 32,319. The weekend was particularly popular with families, with nearly ten per cent more guests coming through the gates compared with 2016.

Jockey Oisin Murphy took the name of the feature race, the Group 2 Grosvenor Sport Celebration Mile, literally after victory aboard favourite Lightning Spear, celebrating wildly after it was announced he had come out best in a photo finish. Lightning Spear became only the second horse ever to win the race twice, having won twelve months earlier. The victory had looked unlikely three furlongs out and even at the line, as the David Simcock-trained colt took a long time to hit top gear, but he eventually caught and overhauled Zonderland, who was also second in last year’s race.

Lightning Spear (right) on his way to winning Goodwood’s Celebration Mile 2017 Photo: Harry Elliot

Just over half an hour later, the celebrations belonged to Her Majesty the Queen, whose Call To Mind landed the Listed Goodwood Revival March Stakes for William Haggas and Pat Cosgrave. Her Majesty has experienced some good fortune at the Racecourse lately, as Fabricate was victorious at the Qatar Goodwood Festival. Another horse who won at ‘Glorious’ earlier in the month was Billesdon Brook, who stepped up on her form with an impressive win in the Group 3 Grosvenor Sport Prestige Stakes for Richard Hannon and Sean Levey.

On Sunday the feature race, the Weatherbys Racing Bank Supreme Stakes, was won by Dutch Connection, whose class prevailed in a very quickly run contest. The Amateur Riders’ Handicap was won by jockey Freddie Tett, who capped a remarkable 24 hours, after travelling over very early in the morning from France having won the first ever point-to-point race to be staged there.

On Friday evening it was the phenomenal fireworks display set to music that left a lasting impression, with the near 10,000-strong crowd giving enthusiastic cheers and a round of applause when they came to an end. They had earlier been treated to a performance by Portsmouth’s Batala Drummers, who set a rousing beat around the grandstands.

Throughout the weekend there was a huge amount for racegoers to enjoy, including a very popular ‘test your strength’ competition, hosted by race sponsors Grosvenor Sport. The circus tent was a hive of activity, with Punch and Judy shows, circus demonstrations and face painting enjoyed by hundreds of children. The replica beach front, complete with sand from the Witterings, hosted donkey rides and a coconut shy, while many took the opportunity to lie back in the deck chairs, making the most of the consistent sunshine.

The next fixtures at Goodwood Racecourse are the Midweek racedays, on Tuesday September 5 and Wednesday September 27 and bringing the curtain down on the season will be the Harvest, Hops and Horseracing fixture on Sunday 15 October. For more information and to purchase tickets, please visit www.goodwood.com

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