Stars are all around at Goodwood racecourse

Fiftyshadesofgrey on the way to victory at Goodwood's season opener / Picture by Malcolm Wells
Fiftyshadesofgrey on the way to victory at Goodwood's season opener / Picture by Malcolm Wells

The Championship Star, which will be awarded to the champion flat jockey at the end of the campaign, was unveiled at the start of the Stobart Jockeys’ Championship at Goodwood.

The star will be awarded to the champion jockey on QIPCO British Champions Day at Ascot on October 17, along with the perpetual trophy and a cheque for £25,000.

In recognition of their past titles, each of the former champion jockeys currently riding now has a Championship Star, signifying the number of titles they have previously won on their breeches, with the current champion Richard Hughes looking to add a fourth to his tally by the end of this his final season in the saddle.

Seb Sanders, who tied for the champion flat jockey title with Jamie Spencer in 2007 and was at Goodwood on Saturday, said: “I think it’s a really nice idea that the champion jockeys will be recognised in this way.

“I’m certainly very proud to wear my star and I think it will be a good way for the public to recognise who the past champions are.”

Harriet Collins, of Great British Racing said: “We felt it was very important for racegoers and TV audiences to be able to identify our past and current champion jockeys.

There’s every indication they’ll follow what you might call the normal route for top milers and end up with us.

Adam Waterworth

“The Championship Star will be a visible reminder to the jockeys of what they’re fighting for throughout the season.”

Meanwhile, Goodwood bosses declared themselves delighted with their season opener – and said it had set them up for a summer to savour.

A crowd of just over 9,000 flocked to the racecourse to see an afternoon of eight races and a new food festival. They were rewarded by a dry afternoon which defied forecasts of rain.

There were a number of horses who race-goers marked out as ones to watch over the Goodwood season.

Racecourse managing director Adam Waterworth said: “It was a good day. We were lucky with the weather – it was forecast to be wet but the rain stayed away.

“We had some close finishing in the racing and the food festival seemed to go down very well.”

Miss Marhurie and Don’t Be won the track’s first two listed contests of the new campaign.

Waterworth said: “People always like to look at the season opener for horses they think can come back and do well with us throughout the season, and people will have had different ideas about which those horses were.

“One that caught my eye was William Knight’s Gavlar, who was only just beaten by Thunder Pass. He ran very well over a mile and 6f and I’d be surprised if we didn’t see him back here soon.

“People like to see a horse owned and trained locally do well.”

Goodwood officials also had one eye on the first Classic of the season, the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket, won by Aidan O’Brien’s Gleneagles.

The three-year-old Galileo colt and third-placed Ivawood, trained by Richard Hannon, may go head-to-head in the St James’ Palace Stakes and Royal Ascot then do battle in Goodwood’s Qatar Sussex Stakes in July.

Waterworth said: “There’s every indication they’ll follow what you might call the normal route for top milers and end up with us.”

There’s more racing action at Goodwood at a three-day festival on May 21, 22 and 23.

STEVE BONE