Goodwood racecourse confident 2021 fixtures will all be watched by returning crowds

Goodwood racecourse bosses are confident their 2021 fixtures will be watched by returning crowds.

Sunday, 24th January 2021, 1:38 pm
Action from a behind closed doors meeting at Goodwood last June. Photo by Mark Cranham/Pool via Getty Images

They are hopeful of starting their programme of 19 flat-racing meetings with at least some racegoers present – then building up to a ‘significant’ crowd by the time Glorious Goodwood comes around at the end of July.

This comes with a caveat – they are entirely in the hands of the British Horseracing Authority, Department for Digital Culture, Media and Sport and Boris Johnson, who between them will rule on, and tell racecourses, what is allowed.

But for now, officials are remaining confident there will be no repeat of their 2020 season, when they were limited to 13 race meetings and did not admit a single paying punter to any of them.

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Goodwood managing director of sport, Adam Waterworth, said 2020 had hit the racecourse hard as paying racegoers made up about 70 per cent of its revenue.

“The fact we were able to race, and our racing was televised, was crucial and it meant we were still getting some revenue,’ he remarked. ‘We furloughed a proportion of staff and they’re now coming back.

“Now we are waiting to see how a fund promised to horse racing by the government will work in terms of compensating.

“As for 2021, we are planning for everything and hoping for the best.

“We’re confident we’ll be able to have a crowd at the start of the season, which for us is April 30, but we are of course in the hands of the government.

“We have a plan in place for allowing people in but with social distancing; we have looked at the 2,000 and 4,000 crowd limits that were permitted in different tiers before the latest lockdown, and we’re also planning for when more people are permitted.

“You have to be positive and I’m absolutely certain we will have racegoers at Goodwood this season – and certain we will have them by the first meeting.

‘I’d say it’s more than likely we will start with reduced numbers but for Glorious week there’s every chance we’ll be back to a significant crowd.”

Racecourse members will be first in line to be admitted and many have rolled over membership from last year. Goodwood hope to put tickets on general sale around the end of February.

A schedule of 10 meetings includes three in May, four in June, Glorious week from July 27 and an August bank holiday festival.