It has long since been my opinion that ‘’Glorious” Goodwood is a banker for a name change come the revolution and the Johnnies at Trade Descriptions hold their own enquiry. I have been driving down to the south coast to empty my wallet every summer since the days when young Cliffie Richards was singing in black and white. It is therefore with some knowledge that I can state that this particular part of Sussex is not on the list for ashes scattering when I am requested by the great steward in the sky to ‘’Weigh In’’.
My first foray to the meeting was back in 1969 when by some miracle I had a full pound note on Jimmy Reppin. I vaguely remember the bobbing heads of jockey’s with coloured bonnets racing by and then a rather nice sounding gentlemen announcing to the world that indeed said nag had obliged. I cannot remember the S.P but it was the last Sussex Stakes where I troubled the keepers of the satchel!
We have of course been graced by some of the greatest milers ever to be shod in the great race, the likes of The Brigadier in ’71 to that monster posing as a racehorse, Frankel, most recently but these and others were races to savour and not to be tainted by a tawdry betting ticket shouting through the pocket.
I can accept that I am no judge of a miler and am happy to sit and observe in silence every year, then make out a case of how I could and should have backed every Sussex Stakes winner, well, all bar Court Masterpiece in 2006. I am still unsure how the beast contrived to win one of the worlds great mile events, given that he was never in the first two in 11 subsequent starts and wound up in mid div in a Musselburgh claimer!! See what I mean?
The rest of the meeting is a blur of several hundred under fed thoroughbreds hurtling downhill at various speeds, being shouted home by any number of Clarissa’s and Sebastian’s, sorry Clarissa and Sebastian, all of whom seem to have been looting the local shops for panama’s and floral dresses as the good lady wife can never find one in the first thirty shops we visit, the floral dress, not the panama. There is, for the uninitiated, a number of shops on course that do a rare old line in such summer apparel but it is necessary to have had a share in a Scoop 6 to pay for the darn things.
I recall the whole proceeds from one of L Cumani’s best laid plans in the old Extel Handicap being misused to purchase some long forgotten jacket that the lady boss placed in her wardrobe never again to see the light of day. Chaps do remember a tie. I once presented myself to the gentlemen at the gate without one and once they had been resuscitated from an attack of the vapours, I was offered a selection from The Albert Steptoe range and was obliged to hand over a crisp fiver for the privilege!!
Now the Goodwood Cup is another matter, indeed the only thing worth going for. Some proper looking animals, in silks we all know, racing all over Sussex, I assume they stay in Sussex as for a great part of the race they go out of eye shot and could be anywhere, homing into view at such a pace that one has time to finish the ice cream and glance at the away bookmakers boards while the field make their sedate way towards the line. Much more my cup of tea. Double Trigger, Persian Punch et al, all good old chums meeting up as planned on the track where the fabled Le Moss strutted his stuff, with his legs as brittle as glass, under the stewardship of the legend that will always be Sir Henry Cecil.
So impressed was I by the second of his Cup wins that I purchased a daughter of his, some years later. She had better legs but they just would not move fast enough in the traditional manner.
Anyway, the bags are packed, the wallet loaded, the credit card still flexible and best of all, the boss, and her wretched jacket, jettisoned some years back. With not a whiff of hope but with the panama at a jaunty angle, Glorious Glorious Goodwood here I come!!