WATCH: Goodwood legend Seamus Buckley gets a super send-off

Goodwood toast to the retirement of Buckley

Mark Johnston is leading trainer at Goodwood this season. Picture: PA Images

Johnston in pole position to be Goodwood’s top trainer

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It’s not every day the crowd at Goodwood give someone three cheers.

In fact it’s not every year they do it. It’s reserved for very special occasions - and very special people.

Seamus Buckley gets a guard of honour from the jockeys / Picture by George Gunn

Seamus Buckley gets a guard of honour from the jockeys / Picture by George Gunn

In fact the last time I can remember ‘hip hip hooray’ ringing around the winner’s enclosure was back in 2011 for Sir Henry Cecil, trainer of the wonder-horse Frankel, who’d just seen off his Sussex Stakes rivals without breaking sweat.

Six years on, race-goers had another one-off to salute. For that’s what Seamus Buckley is.

A man who’s given his whole working life - 51 years in total - to racing. And 23 of those to Goodwood.

For nearly a quarter of a century the affable Irishman has been in charge of one of the most beautiful racecourses in the world and all its grounds - taking responsibility for producing a racing surface the best racehorses in the businesses want to run on and thrive on.

It’s never been an easy task - Buckley admitted as much in his final interview before waving to the crowds and saying his goodbyes - but it is a job he has always done with professional, diligence and integrity. If a trainer has phoned to ask about the going or the likely changes to it before raceday, that trainer has always been given an honest answer.

On his final day Buckley was quick to give praise to the team he had worked with down the years. He could not have done it alone, and is not the sort to try to take more credit than he is due.

But right now, he is due plenty of credit. To have done such a high-pressure job while retaining the respect of trainers, jockeys, owners alike, not to mention that of the race-goers who have been lucky enough to watch the action on the Buckley-prepared turf, is quite something. To have kept smiling throughout, right to the last moment, is even more amazing.

He is happy to be passing on the Goodwood going stick to Ed Arkell, who has assisted him at Glorious for the past decade, and said he would still be around to offer a little help to the staff he is leaving behind - but only when he is wanted.

“I don’t want to be a nuisance,” he said.

There is no danger of that. His continued presence, however occasional, will surely be welcomed by everyone at Goodwood and everyone in racing.

Bye (for now) Seamus. Enjoy putting your feet up. You deserve a rest.