Away from Ascot and Newmarket there are certain other tracks which are hugely important to British Flat racing, one of them being the picturesque Goodwood.
Though now run under a sponsor’s name, the fantastic five-day ‘Glorious Goodwood’ meeting, as it’s still known within the sport, remains one of the longest and most important meetings on the calendar.
Glorious Goodwood stages three of the UK’s 36 yearly Group One races with the meeting taking a similar format to Royal Ascot, running Tuesday-Saturday.
Other important races are also hosted at Goodwood throughout the Flat season at what is considered by many to be the most aesthetically pleasing racecourse in the country.
- Address – Goodwood Racecourse, Chichester, West Sussex, PO18 0PS.
- Owner – The Duke of Richmond.
- TV Station – Racing TV.
- Type – Flat.
- Surface – Turf.
Though described as a right-handed track, runners going over 2 miles, 2½ miles and 2 miles, 5 furlongs will also take in a left-handed turn early in their race.
There are two main right-handed turns at Goodwood; one around a mile from the line and then the final bend around a half-mile out. There is a chute at the top of the course for 1½-mile starts.
Goodwood is unique for riders and offers the most amazing views of the South Downs from the stands.
Goodwood is right-handed, at least for all races over 1¾ miles or shorter.
There are two different final bends at Goodwood. The lower bend is used for races from seven furlongs to a mile-and-a-quarter, while the top bend is used for the longer races to keep the distances accurate.
Races over five and six furlongs are run on the straight course, including the famous Stewards’ Cup.
Despite there being a long-sounding five-furlong run-in from the top bend into the straight, Goodwood remains sharp in nature. This is due to its turn types and unique downhill gradients. The topography of the track means handier horses are usually advantaged, though over longer distances this can level out.
Outside of Epsom’s famous downhill track, Goodwood’s five-furlong straight course is about the quickest in the country.
Very fast types such as the brilliant Battaash are favoured here, while over at Ascot for example a fast-run five furlongs can often suit those usually thought of as six-furlong specialists.
A notorious feature at Goodwood is the trouble that many runners get into in the home straight. Despite having lots of real estate to sort themselves out, time and time again there are hard luck stories here in the final 2-3 furlongs.
Goodwood Track Analysis
Riders to have experienced Goodwood all seem to note it as the trickiest course around. Many have had to sit through stewards’ enquiries numerous times having hit trouble in running up the straight.
Jockeys report the ground running away with them on the turns, causing a concertina effect when some runners don’t handle the turns entirely well.
Many consider, as mentioned above, that front-running types are needed here but jockeys don’t necessarily universally agree on that as many have stayed out of trouble on the round course and used the long straight to good effect.
In smaller fields on the sprint course, it’s simply a ‘point and go’ exercise with the quicker types fairing best. When there is a full field, those drawn on the far side (low numbers) usually have an advantage.
Visiting Goodwood Racecourse
Goodwood is a spectacular place to visit, both in terms of the quality and beauty of the racecourse as well as the natural surroundings of the South Downs.
Reachable from several south coast towns, airports and major training yards, Goodwood is always well supported and never more so than during Glorious Goodwood in the summer.
How to Get to Goodwood Racecourse
The nearest town is Chichester, four-and-a-half miles away. From there, simply head north up the A286 onto Kennel Hill.
From the Brighton and Worthing areas, head west onto the A27. Exit to Arundel Road then up onto Kennel Hill. The track is around 33 miles from Brighton.
Goodwood Racecourse is also just 20 miles from Portsmouth along the A27 towards Chichester. From there, take the A286 north to Kennel Hill.
Those coming from London should head down the A3. The journey is around 50 miles and the racecourse is clearly signposted.
The nearest airport is Southampton. From there, the track is 36 miles away along the M27 and A27 east to Chichester, then the A286 and Kennel Hill as before.
The closest train station is in Chichester, just a few miles away via taxi. Chichester station sees arrivals from Brighton, London Victoria, Portsmouth & Southsea and Southampton Central.
Where to Stay
There are limited rooms available near Goodwood Racecourse, with the majority nearby situated in Chichester, along the A27 and towards Bognor Regis on the coast.
Major Events at Goodwood
Goodwood boasts some top-class racing throughout the Flat season. The highlight is of course Glorious Goodwood, as we all still affectionately know it.
These are the highlights of the season at Goodwood each year:
|Daisy Warwick Fillies’ Stakes||Fillies & Mares Only, 4yo+, Listed Race||1m4f||Season Opener||April|
|Height of Fashion Stakes||3yo Fillies Only, Listed Race||1m2f||May Meeting||May|
|Cocked Hat Stakes||3yo Colts & Geldings Only, Listed Race||1m3f||May Meeting||May|
|Festival Stakes||4yo+, Listed Race||1m2f||May Meeting||May|
|Tapster Stakes||4yo+, Listed Race||1m4f||May Meeting||May|
|Vintage Stakes||2yo Only, Group 2||7f||Glorious Goodwood||July/August|
|Lennox Stakes||3yo+, Group 2||7f||Glorious Goodwood||July/August|
|Goodwood Cup||3yo+, Group 1||2m||Glorious Goodwood||July/August|
|Oak Tree Stakes||3yo+ Fillies & Mares Only, Group 3||7f||Glorious Goodwood||July/August|
|Molecomb Stakes||2yo Only, Group 3||5f||Glorious Goodwood||July/August|
|Sussex Stakes||3yo+, Group 1||1m||Glorious Goodwood||July/August|
|Richmond Stakes||2yo Colts & Geldings Only, Group 2||6f||Glorious Goodwood||July/August|
|Gordon Stakes||3yo Only, Group 3||1m4f||Glorious Goodwood||July/August|
|Nassau Stakes||3yo Fillies & Mares Only, Group 1||1m2f||Glorious Goodwood||July/August|
|Thoroughbred Stakes||3yo Only, Group 3||1m||Glorious Goodwood||July/August|
|Golden Mile||3yo+, Handicap, Class 2||1m||Glorious Goodwood||July/August|
|King George Stakes||3yo+, Group 2||5f||Glorious Goodwood||July/August|
|Glorious Stakes||4yo+, Group 3||1m4f||Glorious Goodwood||July/August|
|Lillie Langtry Stakes||3yo+ Fillies & Mares, Group 2||1m6f||Glorious Goodwood||July/August|
|Stewards’ Cup||3yo+ Handicap, Class 2||6f||Glorious Goodwood||July/August|
|Prestige Stakes||2yo Fillies Only, Group 3||7f||August Bank Holiday Racing||August|
|March Stakes||3yo Only, Group 3||1m6f||August Bank Holiday Racing||August|
|Celebration Mile||3yo+, Group 2||1m||August Bank Holiday Racing||August|
|Supreme Stakes||3yo+, Group 3||7f||August Bank Holiday Racing||August|
|Foundation Stakes||3yo+, Listed Race||1m2f||Midweek Racing||September|
Owing to sponsorship, which is very much appreciated by organisers and horsemen, the flagship event of the summer here is now called the Qatar Goodwood Festival.
During the 19th century however, the press dubbed the meeting ‘Glorious Goodwood’ and the name has stuck ever since.
King Edward VII in fact, who attended just about every summer, famously said that the meeting was “a garden party with racing tacked on”.
Similar in format to Royal Ascot, Glorious Goodwood is staged over five days at the end of July or early August. The week features competitive handicaps and Pattern races, with three important Group 1’s held.
There is a much more relaxed feel to Glorious Goodwood versus Royal Ascot which has helped to make it even more popular with many regular racegoers, trainers and owners.
About Goodwood Racecourse
As well as motor racing and many other activities around the South Downs, Goodwood has always been one of the true homes of horse racing.
The first public race meeting was staged at Goodwood as far back as 1802. Up to 1801, the officers of the Sussex Militia had held an annual race meeting at Petworth Park close by.
When the Earl of Egremont withdrew his invitation for the officers to race, the Duke of Richmond stepped in allowing the meeting to go ahead on The Harroway, a ridge on top of the South Downs.
From then, racing and Goodwood were inextricably linked. Though the sport was suspended during the wars, popularity grew overall down the years with a crowd of 55,000 turning up in 1953. Even now, the public can see racing at Goodwood for free from the north-east slopes.
During the Qatar Goodwood Festival, or Glorious Goodwood to most racing people, more than 100,000 people turn up across five fantastic days of racing with the likes of Stradivarius, Battaash and Frankel gracing the turf in recent years.