My Week: Rod Fabricius General Manager of Goodwood Racecourse

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The Independent Culture

I am up and about from about 6.30am. I am comforted by the morning weather forecast; the settled weather is to continue. At 8am, I go to the early Communion service at Boxgrove priory and then to the racecourse for a full-scale tour and inspection with my assistant, Seamus Buckley. The course is about two miles long. We are on top of Sussex Downs and the race follows a very undulating course - it rises and falls. It's a unique setting.

I spend the rest of the morning clearing the last-minute paperwork and releasing information about the course conditions to the press and trainers. July has been a very dry month and we have had to use 1.5 million gallons in watering the course in the last three weeks.

The afternoon is spent popping in and out of the racecourse. I've half an eye on Ascot, as the Goodwood members have a horse called Goodwood Blizzard running. It makes a very impressive win, which seems like a promising omen for the week.


Get up at quarter to six. There is a strong north-easterly wind and I am concerned about the course drying out. We are 700ft above sea level and the wind is always very strong. I have a lunchtime meeting with a sponsor for new project. There is a lot going on in terms of strategic planning matters. I have to have a peripatetic mind.

I have a lighter moment when I receive a totally unexpected call from a distant cousin. He's staying locally and wants to know if he can pop round. Unfortunately, it is the one week in the year when I have no time to spare.


Up very early, at about quarter to five. I walk the entire racecourse to do the last-minute checks. I grab a good breakfast at 8am and meet up with fellow managers to catch up on last-minute details. We are ready to greet the race-goers at 10.30am. I spend most of the time moving round the various race enclosures, checking that everything is in place.

At 11.30am, I am informed we have been hit by a power failure . It has affected a large part of Chichester and I fear serious ramifications. We establish that racing itself will be able to go ahead as we have stand- by generators. I am impressed at how calm all the key managers seem to be. The problem is the lack of power for the pumps in the lavatory block; this could have potential environmental health problems. We are on tenterhooks as we wait for reports from the electricity board. They manage to deal with the problem shortly before 1pm. It has been caused by branches falling on the electricity cables. That north-easterly wind certainly was an ill wind.

The caterers have also faced major problems with refrigeration. But we manage to put that little setback behind us and enjoy some really good racing with crowds up on last year's event.

I have a dinner and dance in Goodwood House for press and media in the evening. I usually enjoy a good dance, but I paid the penalty by staying out too late last year. My wife and I manage to slip away before midnight.


Up at quarter to five for another busy day. I have a meeting with Jenny Bond from the BBC to discuss the fashion coverage at Goodwood. I am probably not half as conscious about fashion as my wife. She was worrying whether her new pashmina would arrive in the post in time, while I was checking if my 10-year-old race-suit would survive another year.

We have the pre-race parades today. The trainers and jockeys don't like the parade, but the public like the opportunity to see the horses at close range.


It is Ladies Day at Goodwood. I dash off to prepare for the allocation of starting stalls for the Vodaphone Stewards Cup. I am swamped by the press today, with the break of the story about Kieren Fallon losing his job as stable jockey to Henry Cecil. It's a shame that this kind of news can take away coverage of the high-quality racing that we are putting on.


This is definitely the busiest week for all of us at Goodwood. My whole family has been involved: my 20-year-old son is assisting with the paddock commentary service, and my 16-year-old daughter is waitressing. I used to ride horses as a child but am afraid that I don't really get to see a great deal of the horses now - I'm more of an armchair enthusiast. I have a quiet evening in preparation for the best-attended race day tomorrow.