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Friday, 14 December, 2018

Buckley to oversee final Goodwood meeting after 23 years

Seamus Buckley: will sign off after 23 years at Goodwood
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Goodwood's long-serving clerk of the course Seamus Buckley will oversee his final meeting at the track on Sunday before retiring after 23 years in the job.

"It will be emotional, as I've worked with some great people down the years," he said. "It'll be my 23rd season completed at Goodwood and I've been honoured as it's one of the most beautiful tracks in the country."

The track is owned by the family of the Duke of Richmond. "They've been wonderful people to work for, very understanding," said Buckley. "I've also had an excellent working relationship with Rod Fabricius, who brought me here, for which I have to thank him, and Adam Waterworth over the last seven years since he took over from Rod."

Buckley has overseen 23 Glorious Goodwood meetings but conceded that it nearly ended on a sour note and racing was saved only by the course's natural drainage.

"It's 700ft above sea level and there's only six inches of topsoil above chalk, so it drains very quickly," he said. "It can make it difficult, but I think anywhere else racing might not have taken place at the Qatar Goodwood festival this year.

"I went out on the Wednesday evening and it was still raining. I was really worried then, but thank the Lord it stopped at 10 at night and the course and the groundstaff, who deserve all the credit for saving that meeting, did the rest."

Buckley's successor was announced in July. Ed Arkell arrives from a position with Arc as regional director, but he is far from new to Goodwood having assisted Buckley for the last ten years.

"There's not much I'll be able to pass on to Ed, he knows all of Goodwood's idiosyncrasies," said Buckley, who added Arkell had been based at Goodwood for around six weeks already. "I'm delighted to be handing over the reins, as it were, to someone like him."

Former jump jockey Buckley, who moved into turf management after serious injury ended his riding career in the early 1970s, revealed that the transition will be instant.

"I'll be going on holiday from Monday and Ed will be in position right away," he said. "I won't be retiring fully and will still do some part-time work at the racecourse, but I've been working since I was 14 and I'm looking forward to putting my feet up, just for a little while."

Five of the best: Buckley's favourite Goodwood runners

I'd be mad not to mention him. He's the best horse I've ever seen and, not only that, it was great to have him here twice for the Sussex Stakes and be a small part of what was a wonderful story for Henry Cecil in the twilight of his career.

Frankel became a hero with the wider public when Khalid Abdullah (left) allowed him to race on

He was a wonderful stayer and maybe the most famous horse Aidan O'Brien ran here. He won four Gold Cups at Ascot and two Goodwood Cups. It would have been a third, but one year something went wrong between Ascot and Goodwood, which was a bit of a shame.

Ouija Board
She was an outstanding filly, of course, but this is more for the great battle she had with Alexander Goldrun in the Nassau Stakes in 2006. It was probably the best horse race I saw here, it was up there with Grundy and Bustino in the King George all those years ago.

Ouija Board (far side) beats Alexander Goldrun in a great finish to the 2006 Nassau
Double Trigger
He won three Goodwood Cups, the first of them in my first year here, and his trainer Mark Johnston has built a real affinity with the course and is a wonderful supporter. That's especially nice for me, as my first job in racing was with Captain Neville Crump, who trained where Mark trains now at Warwick House in Middleham.

One of the things I love is seeing the two-year-old maiden winners develop. We've had a few who have gone on to success at Epsom, a track where I also worked. One's right-handed and the other left-handed, but they both go up hill and down dale and are both chalk-based. If you have a horse that handles Goodwood, I'd be confident they'd handle Epsom. 

I remember Workforce in particular because I liked the look of him when he won his maiden here and backed him for the Guineas and the Derby. He wasn't quick enough for the Guineas, but he went on to win the Derby and the Arc.

If you are interested in this, you should read:

Duke of Richmond's legacy lives on at thriving Goodwood


It will be my 23rd season completed at Goodwood and I've been honoured as it's one of the most beautiful tracks in the country

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