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Jeff Smith, Mark Johnston, Johnny Murtagh on Glorious Goodwood

PUBLISHED: 18:10 25 June 2010 | UPDATED: 17:25 20 February 2013

Jeff Smith, Mark Johnston, Johnny Murtagh on Glorious Goodwood

Jeff Smith, Mark Johnston, Johnny Murtagh on Glorious Goodwood

Owner Jeff Smith, trainer Mark Johnston, and jockey Johnny Murtagh, tell us why Glorious Goodwood is so special.

An owner, trainer and a jockey tell us why Glorious Goodwood is so special



Owner Jeff Smith



Jeff has bred horses for racing from his Littleton Stud, near Winchester in Hampshire since 1984. He currently has approximately 30 horses in training in England and has owned three winners of Horse of the Year: Chief Singer, Lochsong and Persian Punch. Jeff has had several notable successes at Goodwood, including winning the Goodwood Cup three times, twice with Persian Punch and once with Grey Shot.



What is it about Glorious Goodwood that marks it out as special for you?
The setting is just so special. You could not have a better backdrop to a racecourse. I have been lucky enough to visit many of the most beautiful racecourses around the world and none can match the beauty of the backdrop at Goodwood. It also provides a natural theatre for the drama that unfolds on the course and in that respect the closest course to Goodwood would be Cheltenham but with my involvement in Flat racing, Goodwood wins out every time.
There is also such a fun and relaxed atmosphere which many other courses simply cannot match. Goodwood racegoers seem to exude an air of enjoyment of the day.



Which was the first Glorious Goodwood meeting that you attended and what are your memories?
I used to go racing at Goodwood when I was younger but to be honest all my favourite memories of the course have been as an owner.



What are your most memorable achievements and your favourite memories of previous meetings?
When people ask me what is my favourite course, I always say Goodwood. As an owner, its been a very lucky course for me. Weve had such unbelievable success there; its hard to pick out any one day that stands head and shoulders above the others. Every major race weve been lucky enough to win has seemingly had a story to go with it
When Chief Singer won the Sussex Stakes we had to wait on the outcome of a 40-minute stewards enquiry before we knew whether we had won or not. Looking back it was terrific drama although it was pretty tense at the time!
And then for two years running our horses Lochsong and Philidor both won races on the same day. I remember Lochsongs win in the Stewards Cup as I was convinced she had finished second before the result was announced And Philidors Golden Mile win came in a three way photo finish. After I had seen the print of the photo, I swore I would never doubt a photo finish result ever again as it was so close.
Amazingly I have three Goodwood Cups at home, two won by Persian Punch and one by Grey Shot. The public support that horses such as Lochsong and Persian Punch generated obviously adds to the atmosphere when they won big races and that was even more special when it occurred at Goodwood.



Are you based at home during
the meeting or do you stay somewhere local?
Being based near Winchester, we stay at home, although we did used to always drop in on my parents who lived close to the track in Cocking.
We dont tend to have people to stay, as if we have runners theres plenty enough to worry about and keep us occupied. Also one of the pleasures of Goodwood is how social it is. Being local we know lots of people who go and its a great place to spend time with friends.



Do you have any particular routine or activities that you undertake during Glorious Goodwood?
In the past, we used to have two particular favourite restaurants in Chilgrove and Midhurst where we often celebrated after a day at Goodwood. Nowadays, we tend to go to one of the places in and around Chichester on our way back home, its a great area with lots of good options.



Trainer Mark Johnston



Mark Johnston was born on October 10, 1959 and is a racehorse trainer based in Middleham, North Yorkshire. Each year he brings a strong team of horses down to Glorious Goodwood and he is one of the leading trainers to follow at the meeting. Double Trigger was Johnstons most prolific and popular Goodwood runner, winning the Goodwood Cup a record 3 times.



What is it about Glorious Goodwood that marks it out as special for you?
It is a combination of all those things. It is certainly the most picturesque track in Britain and, for me, the best spectator track (especially middle-long distance races) Facilities are great, prize money is good and that ensures the quality and competitiveness of the racing. Im not really sure why or when the love affair began but once you set out to target a meeting it makes a big difference. For a long time I have been setting the week apart, staying at Goodwood, and concentrating on the Goodwood team. As with Royal Ascot, that seems to make a big difference.



Where do you stay when you are in Sussex for the meeting and why?
We stay in the Goodwood Park Hotel. We have considered staying elsewhere but it is so convenient and there is usually a good crowd of racing people.



Are there any particular assets or strengths that you look for in a horse before sending them to run at Goodwood?
Not really. Ill take most horses there but it helps to have won most of the individual races before and to recognize, at an early stage, the profile required.



What are your most memorable achievements and your favourite memories of previous meetings?
It is all really about Double Trigger. His three Goodwood Cups were all fantastic races for different reasons. Probably the best was when he and Double Eclipse finished first and second but its a close run thing between that and his last win. On that last occasion he dropped away in very atypical style, was discounted by the commentator, and then came again. I well remember the people running from the stands to welcome him to the winners enclosure.



Do you get any time to visit anywhere else while you are here? Do you have any favourite places?
Very little time to visit other places but I do usually bring my bike and get in a few hours of cycling (usually between declaration time 10am and going racing. We always go, at least once, for dinner at the Anglesey Arms.


Jockey Johnny Murtagh



Johnny Murtagh is an award-winning jockey from Bohermeen, County Meath. He is retained by the leading Irish trainer, Aidan OBrien, who trains on behalf of the international breeding operation, Coolmoore. Murtagh has won the prestigious Epsom Derby three times on Sinndar, High Chaparral and Motivator. In 2008 he was leading rider at Glorious Goodwood and last year he won the meetings feature race, the Blue Square Sussex Stakes, on Rip Van Winkle.



What is special about Glorious Goodwood for you?
I do look forward to Glorious Goodwood. What sets it apart is the combination of the track and the quality of racing. The prize money is good and every race at Glorious Goodwood is fiercely competitive and hard to win. As a jockey, and I suspect the same applies for the racegoers, I do prefer it when the sun is shining!



Are there any particular assets or strengths that you look for in a horse youre riding at Goodwood?
From a jockeys perspective, its undoubtedly a challenging course to ride. Its tricky. With the undulations and the competitive racing you have to have a well balanced horse and they must have the speed to grab the gaps when they appear. There is a degree of luck involved but Im sure that to those watching in the stands, one minute youre a hero, the next youre a zero.
What are your most memorable achievements and your favourite memories of previous meetings?
Goodwood has been a lucky course for me. I have won the last two runnings of the Sussex Stakes; on Henrythenavigator in 2008 and then Rip Van Winkle last year. Both won really well and both of their wins were among their best performances.
And I also won the Sussex on Soviet Song, who was owned by the Elite Racing Club and so there were hundreds of her owners there cheering on.
Another special moment was winning the Goodwood Cup on Yeats, he was imperious that afternoon. Nothing would have been beaten him the mood he was in that day.



Where do you stay when you are in Sussex for the meeting and why?
Last year we stayed in an old monastery about 10-12 miles away from the track. We dont go to the same place each year, there are plenty of good options.



Do you get any time to visit anywhere else while you are here? Do you have any favourite places ?
What I most enjoy is having a round of golf after racing. Its a great way to wind down and relax. Ive played golf on the Goodwood estate. Its a great courses.
On the morning of a raceday, I will get to the track early and I will run round the course before having a sauna.

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