The Secret Racegoer avoids knotty problems at Goodwood races
There is no finer place to go racing on a weekday afternoon than Goodwood. The operative words being “weekday” and “afternoon”. Saturdays and music evenings can draw an element whose sense of acceptable social behaviour can be eroded by over-partaking of alcohol as the meeting progresses.
And their ability to refuel, if their favourite tipple is Amstel lager, can now be achieved at the speed of a pit-lane stop down the road at Goodwood’s motor-racing circuit. The caterer’s have introduced those clever glasses where the brew is forced up through the bottom of the glass which is then resealed.
Ascot introduced it to try to speed up the serving of Guinness (an abomination) and one racegoer demonstrated the technology to his mates but pushed at the seal a little too forcefully and ended up with the content down the front of his chinos. The appearance resembled what the Secret Racegoer understands to be a called a “hot-leg”.
Newbury have also introduced a fast-track bar for the serving of lager, but nobody has ever seen it patronised, possibly because the brew served is of the “cooking” lager variety.
Back at Goodwood the bottom-up glass filling is fine if you want a pint, but it doesn’t work for half-pints. So, bar staff have to fill up jugs of lager to supply the smaller measure. This leads to suspicious customers wondering if the drink has come from the slop trays (ok, the Secret Racegoer wondered if a requested half-pint had come from the slop tray).
Goodwood has a reputation for some eye-watering pricing. Entrance to the Richmond Enclosure on the day was £32, when a Listed race was the featured contest. A roast-beef roll, albeit very tasty, was £8. But even Goodwood has held off from charging an unacceptable £6 for a pint of Guinness which Epsom now think reasonable (the Secret Racegoer is not going to let this go).
One of the nicest places where you can get a drink is in the new outdoor-bar in the Richmond (members) Enclosure overlooking the west end of the parade ring.
There’s a sizeable area of decking and high bar stools and, as well as affording a great view of the horses circling and then leaving the parade ring, you can see across to the Solent and the Isle of Wight (*insert your favourite IofW joke here).
Above the bar is a veranda dining area.
Down at the winners enclosure, Mark Johnston was waiting to greet Lake Volta who had rattled home in the 6f handicap. One of the press corps cheekily called across to ask the trainer if he was happy with the going, given that a few days earlier Johnston had complained on his website about tracks over-watering.
Prior to the Johnston horse acting on the going, the previous race went to the John Gosden trained Private Secretary, a horse which held a Derby entry but was re-routed to the more modest Listed Cocked Hat Stakes.
Jockey Frankie Dettori came from off the pace to deliver the 3yo to a neck victory, looking to his right in the final few yards at Jamie Spencer on the runner-up as if to say “anything you can do…”.
As the horses were returning to the winners enclosure after each race, there was a good post-race analysis over the PA and on the close-circuit TV featuring racecourse presenter Anthony Kemp.
In the Richmond Enclosure it was possible to stand at a set of high tables and look down at the table-tops and watch the re-runs projected down from the ceiling.
Across from the tables was a bank of TVs conventionally mounted on the wall, which most people preferred to watch, placing drinks and Racing Posts on the surfaces, slightly inconvenienced by the pictures distorting their reading material.
Goodwood has a minimalist approach to its signage. There are big signs saying “BAR” and others saying “BETTING”. Curiously, it’s not clear if BETTING refers to Tote or Bookmaker, and it’s only when you get close you find out if it is betting at fixed-odds or betting into the pool.
Strange, at a time when pool betting is a bit fragmented, that Goodwood seem to want to play down the Tote brand.
A criteria for having a drink or bet in the Richmond Enclosure is that gentlemen must wear a jacket and tie. Once that requirement is fulfilled, access is readily available. This means that taste does not necessarily apply to the design of the jacket, or the way in which the tie is knotted.
There are numerous options for a necktie knot, including the Cape, Eldredge, Four-in-a-hand, Rose, Trinity, Van Wijk and Windsor. For some racegoers, perhaps unaccustomed to wearing a tie, the preferred knot was the Fred Flintstone.
*Q. What’s hot and steaming and comes out of cows?
A. The Isle of Wight ferry
More Secret Racegoer reports
Sydney Arms, Chelsea http://wp.me/p8e3Dl-1E3