Goodwood racecourse allows racegoers to gaze down upon the town of Chichester from its picturesque location in the South Downs. It has now been hosting top-class racing from over 200 years, with many of its top races created in the nineteenth century. The course stages three Group 1’s, all of which take place at the Qatar Goodwood Festival, which is often referred to as “Glorious Goodwood”. The three Group 1’s are the Sussex Stakes, the Goodwood Cup, and the Nassau Stakes.
Glorious Goodwood is so much more than just another horse racing meeting through, and it is universally regarded as the UK’s second biggest flat meeting after Royal Ascot. Men may swap top hats and tails for Panama hats and linen suits, but the fashion is every bit as important a part of this meeting as it is at Royal Ascot.
Below are some key facts about Goodwood Racecourse.
Course Type: Flat
Current Owner: Goodwood Estate
Notoriously tricky is how most punters, jockeys, and trainers would describe the switchback layout of Goodwood Racecourse, and the many undulations tend to cause enough equine traffic problems to make the stewards earn their wages.
The course is right-handed, but sprints run over five furlongs and six furlongs are run on a straight course. The draw is never easy to work out though, with ground conditions and the pace-angle all needing careful consideration on what is one of the fastest sprint courses in the United Kingdom. Meanwhile, the main course has a lower-bend and a top-bend, with races between a mile and 10-furlongs starting on the lower-bend, and races over 11-furlongs starting on the top-bend.
A low draw on the main course is often considered an advantage, and horses that can dictate their own pace from such a position are greatly favoured. However, in big races, the competition to be prominent can be so fierce that the front runners often set the race up for a horse that comes with a late and well-timed run. The trouble with trying to come from behind is that horses tend to bunch up and it can be difficult to get a run when you want to. This means Goodwood meeting tend to create more than their fair share of hard-luck stories. However, Goodwood also produces more than its fair share of course specialists.
The Goodwood May Meeting features three Listed Races, which are the Daisy Warwick Stakes, the Cocked Hat Stakes, and the Height of Fashion Stakes, with the latter two races being trials for The Derby and The Oaks. Famous winners of the Cocked Hat Stakes include Troy, Pentire, and Dubai Millennium. Meanwhile, Love Divine and Snow Fairy both won the Height of Fashion Stakes.
The Qatar Goodwood Festival then hosts 13 Group Races. These include three group races for two-year-olds, which are the Group 3 Molecomb Stakes, the Group 2 Vintage Stakes, and the Group 2 Richmond Stakes.
Meanwhile, other non-Group 1 Races run at the Qatar Goodwood Festival are the Group 2 Lennox Stakes, the Group 3 Gordon Stakes, the Group 2 Lillie Langtry Stakes, the Group 3 Oak Tree Stakes, the Group 2 King George Stakes, the Group 3 Thoroughbred Stakes, and the Group 3 Glorious Stakes. The course also stages the prestigious Steward’s Cup Handicap sprint over six furlongs.
However, the highlights of the Qatar Goodwood Festival are the Group 1’s, the Sussex Stakes, the Goodwood Cup, and the Nassau Stakes. The Sussex Stakes takes place over a mile and usually sees the three-year-old milers take on the best of the older generations that haven’t been retired to stud. Recent winners have included Solow and Kingsman, whilst Frankel won it twice in his glittering unbeaten career. The Goodwood Cup has also had its fair share of dual winners, including Yeats, Big Orange, and Stradivarius. Meanwhile, Midday won the Nassau Stakes three times in succession between 2009 and 2011, whilst recent winners have included the multiple Group 1 winning fillies Legatissimo, Minding, and Winter.
Goodwood also stages more group races at its August Meeting, with these being the Group 2 Celebration Mile, the Group 3 Prestige Stakes, and the Group 3 Supreme Stakes.
Fashion is a huge part of the occasion at Goodwood, so much so that King Edward VII once said the Goodwood Festival is a “Garden party with racing tacked on.” Meanwhile, today, the fashion at Glorious Goodwood is considered stunning but never stuffy. Goodwood even commissions fashion gurus to compile “The Goodwood Look” which is designed to help racegoers choose the right outfits and accessories required to comply with the dress code used on big occasions.
If frequenting the Richmond Enclosure, gentleman (16+) must wear a jacket, with a tie or cravat. Favourites with male racegoers include linen suits and Panama hats. Boys under 16 are requested to wear a collared shirt, whilst all kinds of fancy dress, shorts, trainers, and denim are not permitted.
Meanwhile, the Gordon Enclosure is often considered the place to dress to impress. Women are often seen in stunning outfits and matching hats, whilst jackets and ties are a must for men.
The Lennox Enclosure is less formal, but many racegoers still see a day at the races at Goodwood as an excuse to show off the highlights of their wardrobe, or even treat themselves to a new outfit for the occasion.
The Earl of Richmond’s love of horse racing lead to him commissioning the building of Goodwood Racecourse, with the inaugural meeting taking place in 1802. Sadly, he lived to see just five years of racing at Goodwood, but his brainchild has meant that generations of racegoers have continued to enjoy thrilling racing on the Sussex Downs for over 200 years.
Address and Contact Details
Goodwood Racecourse, Kennel Hill, Chichester PO18 0PS