Racing Returns to Goodwood on Saturday, May 4
Knight and Egan look forward to new season
Goodwood Racecourse stages its first fixture of the new Flat season on Opening Saturday, May 4. The seven-race card is headlined by £40,000 Listed Betfred The Bonus King EBF Daisy Warwick Stakes (2.20pm) over a mile and a half and the £40,000 Listed Betfred Mobile Casino British Stallion Studs EBF Conqueror Stakes (4.05pm) over a mile, both restricted to fillies and mares.
Darren Egan, 21, established himself as one of the best apprentice riders last season with 47 winners and was also one of the leading pilots at Goodwood with six successes from just 20 rides (a strike-rate of 30 per cent), including two at Glorious Goodwood. His first winner at Goodwood’s main meeting came courtesy of the Mark Johnston-trained Landaman in the competitive bet365.com Handicap on the opening day (July 31).
A fall at Wolverhampton in October left Egan with a broken collarbone and put paid to his chances of winning the apprentice title, but he has picked up where he left off this season, annexing the valuable Lincoln Handicap aboard Levitate by a short-head at Doncaster on March 30. The Irishman is apprenticed to trainer Ron Harris, who is based near Chepstow in Wales.
Egan said: “It was an unbelievable day when I won my first race at Glorious Goodwood on Landaman. It was for Mr (Mark) Johnston as well which was also a big help.
“The raw talent on show with the horses and jockeys makes it one of the best meetings and the atmosphere on top of that is unbelievable. I rode another winner as well later in the week, so that was brilliant.
“You need a lot of luck in running, especially over the longer trips, because if you don’t get that you are simply not going to win. Goodwood is very difficult to ride compared to other courses because you are constantly switching and changing. You need a horse that can carry you into the race and they have to handle the track as well.
“I enjoy the challenge of riding around there and I would say it is my favourite track for obvious reasons. I like the big handicaps at Glorious Goodwood because it is very competitive and just a thrill to get a ride.
“It was good last year because I was claiming five when Glorious Goodwood was on and I had proved earlier in the year that I could ride there so I picked up some nice rides. Hopefully, I can pick up some more rides this year while I’m still claiming three.
“I was very surprised how well things went last year. The intention was just to ride a few winners, get my name out there and lay a foundation. The support I got from trainers was tremendous but, because I was off so long after I broke my collarbone, it has taken a while to pick up this year. It’s starting to get going again now so it’s all good.
“Ideally, I would like to have another go at the apprentice title but we will just have to see.”
Egan’s second Glorious Goodwood success came when he teamed up with local trainer William Knight, recording a neck verdict on Aussie Reigns in the Telegraph Nursery on August 3.
The Angmering Park handler now trains for the Goodwood Racehorse Owners Group following John Dunlop’s retirement at the end of last season and is looking forward to this year at the world’s most beautiful racecourse.
Knight said: “We always like to have runners at Goodwood and we will definitely be trying to get a team there for the meetings throughout the year.
“It is one of my local tracks and on a nice sunny summer’s evening, it is one of the most picturesque racecourses in the country. They look after trainers well and there is a nice enclosure for the owners and a lot of mine are quite local so they enjoy having runners there.
“You need to have the right type of horse for Goodwood because the course is quite undulating.
“Horses learn a lot and it’s a lovely track. Hopefully, for Glorious Goodwood we will be able to put together a good team.
“I train for the Goodwood Racehorse Owners Group and they are a good bunch of owners to have in the yard. They have been very lucky with their horses and we have a nice three-year-old called Goodwood Mirage, who won his only start at Newmarket last year. He will be out soon.
“They had a stable tour at the yard about three weeks ago and that went well so hopefully we will have some runners for them at Goodwood in the future.
“I would have thought we will have out first runners at the course next month in some of the maidens and handicaps.”
Opening Saturday is the first of 19 scheduled racedays at Goodwood in 2013 with the highlights being the three-day May Festival (Thursday, May 23 to Saturday, May 25) and the five days of Glorious Goodwood (Tuesday, July 30 to Saturday, August 3), which features 13 Group contests and two heritage handicaps. Prize money across the season has increased by 12 per cent, compared to 2012, with over £3,600,000 being offered in total.
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