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Thursday, 15 November, 2018

Saturday running order open for debate but Group 1s staying put

Winter winning the Nassau Stakes at Goodwood
1 of 1

Glorious Goodwood's trio of Group 1s will remain in their midweek slots for the foreseeable future, although officials are keen to add another top-level highlight to the five-day fixture.

This year's five-day meeting featured some notable big-race movements, with the Goodwood Cup – run for the first time as a Group 1 – the opening-day highlight having previously been staged on the Thursday, while the Nassau Stakes moved to Thursday from its previous slot on Saturday.

The new-look running order led to debate over whether the changes had improved the meeting, or left it too front-loaded, but Goodwood managing director Adam Waterworth is happy with how the schedule worked.

"I thought the Goodwood Cup did what what we wanted it to do," he said on Monday. "It provided the first day of the meeting with a real highlight."

Wednesday's big race has traditionally been the Sussex Stakes, while some felt the Nassau's switch to Thursday meant the meeting rather tailed off.

But Waterworth said: "This year especially, moving the race earlier in the week means you're more likely to have better ground for the Group 1 fillies. I've read a bit about the Saturday looking a bit weak, but I'm not sure I agree.

"I've always felt the Nassau got overshadowed to a certain extent by the Stewards' Cup but, with it on Thursday, it took centre stage and the fillies got more headlines and focus than they would've done previously."

Waterworth did, however, concede the composition of Saturday's card could be addressed, as it had only one Group race, the Gordon Stakes, compared to four Group races the previous day.

"The accusation of being handicap-heavy on the Saturday is a fair one, and is one of the things we'll chuck into the pot when we're looking at the programme for next year," said Waterworth.

"I think running the consolation and Stewards' Cup on the same day, especially a year like this year when we weren't sure what effect the draw would have, gives an additional interest.

"We might look at the staying handicap, which was the second race on Saturday, and whether we swap that out with one of the Pattern races on the Friday."

Retiring clerk of the course Seamus Buckley spoke of his desire to see the Group 2 Lennox Stakes upgraded to Group 1 status, and that is shared by Waterworth. This year's race was won by 50-1 shot Breton Rock.

Should that happen it would become the first 7f Group 1 in Britain for older horses, and Waterworth said: "The Lennox is the one we always come back to and I've always thought the lack of a seven-furlong Group 1 is a fairly glaring gap.

"It's quite difficult for seven-furlong horses in this country to get a Group 1 rating as there's no races for them. They'll run in Group 1 mile races but don't win them. It's a difficult debate but one we'll carry on fighting as we think we've the natural race for an upgrade."

International appeal

American sprinter Happy Like A Fool was due to add an international flavour in the Molecomb but was one of the numerous non-runners throughout the week due to soft ground.

However, Waterworth is confident the meeting's international appeal will continue to rise, and said: "We got Wesley [Ward, trainer] here, he had a great day and has said to us he wouldn't be put off coming back.

"I'd be pretty hopeful that we're starting to make more of an impact internationally."

I've always thought the lack of a seven furlong Group 1 is a fairly glaring gap

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