There may be hundreds of horse racing meets all over the country but Glorious Goodwood is the best kept secret of the racing elite and upper classes.
Held at the Goodwood estate, home to the Dukes of Richmond for over 300 years, Glorious Goodwood has a timeless quality that cannot possibly be replicated elsewhere.
With breathtaking scenery of the Sussex Downs, there are few places more beautiful and it is a race goer’s idyll. A haven for peace and serenity due to the stunning views over the untouched Downs.
At Glorious Goodwood you are able to enjoy the same backdrop that has been enjoyed by some of the most notable figures in British history for centuries.
Glorious Goodwood is considered by many to be not only the most beautiful of all of the race meets due to its wonderful setting but also the most prestigious and classy event as it has not yet been infiltrated by those just in search of a fun alcohol-filled day out. Goodwood remains Glorious thanks to its unique quirks and well-mannered audience.
But what is it about Goodwood that makes it so different to the other race meets?
The Earl of March states that his family’s estate is ‘somewhere to spoil yourself in an unspoilt world’ and this extends the idea that, at Glorious Goodwood, the old and the new are intertwined, producing an event that is so special that it kept a secret by the racing elite in order to try to conserve this unique quality.
The Glorious Goodwood experience is both enjoyable and also recognisable as being quintessentially English – the Earl of March declares that ‘good is never enough for us – everything has to be glorious.’
This strive for perfection runs through every thread of Goodwood’s being producing an event that is simply incomparable.
Of all the race meets, Goodwood is definitely the chicest and it is well known for its fabulous fashion among the racing world. For five enthralling days every summer, fashion, high society and horse racing combine to produce a delectable cocktail that cannot be seen anywhere else.
While Ascot and Aintree are now frequented by every man and his dog, Goodwood is now the place to go for genuine racing fans or the upper classes.
At Goodwood, the beautiful English countryside with its rolling hills serves to enhance the visitors’ experience, but its remote setting has another benefit – it provides a barrier between Glorious Goodwood and the masses. One race goer said that Goodwood is the ‘closest you can get to heaven without dying.’ It truly is paradise.
Goodwood’s distinctive traditions are adored throughout the racing world for the quintessentially English event that they produce. Goodwood is famed for being a stylish affair but it is also a relaxed occasion.
Men traditionally dress in linen suits and the classic ‘Goodwood’ panama hats which have become a symbol for the event.
During the five days of Glorious Goodwood the racecourse is overflowing with colour and the attendees revel in the vibrant atmosphere which is aided by the wonderful music that is played around the course and of course the fabulous racing.
Goodwood’s unique qualities ensure that Glorious Goodwood remains known for its eccentric ‘Britishness’ and so stands out from the cacophony of other meets. In late July and early August, Glorious Goodwood is the place to be and to be seen.
With five days jam-packed with the finest racing action, it is not called Glorious for nothing.
How Did Glorious Goodwood Begin?
Glorious Goodwood, one of the highlights of the British Flat Racing Calendar, has been providing people with the highest standard of horse racing since the early 1800s. However the early Goodwood bears little resemblance to the racing extravaganza of today.
Racing was introduced to Goodwood out of a sense of duty, rather than a particular fondness for the ancient sport. Goodwood House has been the seat of the Dukes of Richmond since 1697.
The West Sussex estate has extensive grounds and so when, in 1802, the Officers of the Sussex Militia were no longer able to hold their annual race at Pentworth Park, the third Duke of Richmond offered the use of Goodwood.
Rather than today’s collection of the finest ‘blue-blooded’ horses which have been bred and trained for the sole purpose of racing, this first race was an informal affair – simply a gathering of young officers and their steeds keen to demonstrate their talents.
A race course was hastily laid out at the Harroway on the Goodwood estate and the ensuing event was so popular that the Duke of Richmond decided to make the occasion an annual event in the racing calendar. The next year, the meet was extended to include three days of racing.
Glorious Goodwood became a royal affair as the second event was attended by the then Prince of Wales (later King George IV) and a royal battle ensued between the Duke of Richmond and the Prince.
In the first official Glorious Goodwood, the Duke and the future King shared the prizes as their horses triumphed during the event and due to the royal interest in the sport, racing cemented its description as the ‘Sport of Kings’.
Glorious Goodwood is synonymous with linen suits and panama hats and this defining characteristic of the event was introduced by another royal patron of Goodwood.
Edward VII spurned tradition by bucking the trend of Ascot and Epsom (which decreed that acceptable attire involved morning suits and top hats) and instead chose to wear this more casual apparel – a tradition that remains to this day.
Since the early 1800s, the popularity of Glorious Goodwood has increased steadily – particularly after the Second World War. While not a rival for Ascot in terms of attendance, Goodwood still draws a large crowd of people in search of a relaxed and enjoyable day out watching the finest racing that the country has to offer.
In the 1970s Goodwood responded to the ever-increasing interest in the event by lengthening Glorious Goodwood to encompass five days of racing and additional fixtures were also added.
In the beautiful setting of the Sussex Downs, the Dukes of Richmond have created the most stunning race course in the whole of Britain and the rolling downs of the English countryside are a highpoint of Glorious Goodwood.
The Goodwood of old links with the present Glorious Goodwood as the spectators gaze upon the same view that the original visitors saw back in 1802 while enjoying the same marvellous racing.
The Owners of Goodwood Estate – The Original Dukes
Nestled between the rolling hills of the Sussex countryside and the calm waters of Chichester Harbour lies the Goodwood Estate.
An assortment of different styles from centuries past, each Duke has added to Goodwood House leaving behind a fusion of Jacobean, Georgian and Victorian architecture and so it is arguably the most unusual of England’s great family seats.
Each successive generation undertakes the responsibility when they inherit to ensure that their ancestor’s legacy of Glorious Goodwood lives on.
Who are these noble organisers? The first member of the current Richmond dynasty was Charles Lennox – an illegitimate son of King Charles II.
The King bestowed upon him the previously dormant title of the Duke of Richmond (the fourth time the title had been created since the Dukedom first emerged under Henry VIII) amongst others in 1675.
Goodwood House, built at the beginning of the 17th Century, became the seat of the Dukes of Richmond in 1697 when it was bought by the first Duke and thus begun the journey of Glorious Goodwood.
A century later in the early 1800s, the third Duke of Richmond built the famous racecourse at his family’s seat in his retirement. Born in 1735, Lennox became duke in 1750 and embarked on an illustrious military career in which he distinguished himself at the Battle of Minden and became a Major General aged just 26.
He then rose to the rank of Field Marshal, the highest rank that can be held in the British Army, and he was also a prominent politician with many radical views.
However, in retirement he turned his hand to more pleasurable pursuits, like racing – the pastime is dubbed the ‘sport of kings’ – and became the patron of many notable artists including George Stubbs.
While indifferent to racing when he first built the racecourse, simply doing so as a favour to the militia, he grew to love the sport – and the royal rivalry between himself and the Prince of Wales that resulted from it.
The third Duke died in 1806, leaving no legitimate children to succeed him and so it was the responsibility of his nephew to continue to develop his legacy of Glorious Goodwood.
Like the third Duke, the subsequent generations of the Richmond dukedom were also eminent soldiers and the fourth duke was heavily involved in battles with Napoleon.
His son, the fifth duke, was aide de camp to the Prince of Orange at the infamous Battle of Waterloo and the sixth duke became ADC to the legendary Duke of Wellington.
The Dukes of Richmond were heavily entrenched in both the political and military aspects of society in the 19th Century, but they also managed to uphold the legacy of their ancestor by evolving the Goodwood Estate.
The sixth duke of Richmond had the biggest impact on the development of Glorious Goodwood.
As well as improving the living conditions for the estate employees by building several hundred cottages for them to live in, he also improved the grounds of his estate by planting many trees, which remain there to this day, creating an even more beautiful landscape for people to admire when they attended the event.
Any spectators important enough to stay at Goodwood House were also able to appreciate the concessions to modern living that the sixth Duke had made by installing gas works to improve the heating and lighting of the Jacobean house.
From the creation of the Goodwood Estate during the reign of James I as a gentleman’s residence to the elegant, Palladian style home of the Regency Era, the Dukes of Richmond created not only a home that they were able to enjoy themselves, but also one that they could share with the public during the annual Glorious Goodwood.
A concoction of breath-taking architecture, a stunning setting, an important family and fabulous racing created an event that was a focal point in society’s calendar and that was innovative enough to stand the test of time.
The New Generation
A holder of four titles, the Duke of Richmond has always been one of the most influential aristocrats in society. The titles of Duke of Richmond and Duke of Lennox were granted to Charles Lennox, Charles II’s illegitimate son, in 1675.
The third title of the dukes was gained by the second duke upon his grandmother’s death in 1734 which was the French title, Duke of Aubigny. Finally, the collection of titles was completed in 1876 when Queen Victoria bestowed the title of Duke of Gordon upon the sixth duke.
Thus, the Duke holds four dukedoms in Scotland, England and France which is more than any other peer.
Throughout the centuries the dukes continued to use the power which came hand in hand with the titles in order to improve Glorious Goodwood and to establish it as an event that everyone wanted an invitation to.
When the 7th Duke inherited the Goodwood Estate he recognised the need to extend its influence in the aristocracy, so he held famous house parties at his estate during Glorious Goodwood.
While at first people accepted the invitation because of his name alone and attended the races out of respect to their host, over the years people began to clamour for invitations to stay at Goodwood House during Glorious Goodwood because they did not want to miss a second of the fabulous racing at the noble event.
The 7th Duke was responsible for the metamorphosis of racing at Goodwood from great to glorious.
During the 20th Century the Goodwood Estate changed hands frequently due to the effect of World War I and II on the family. The ninth duke was the only Duke of Richmond that has not had the Christian name of Charles, instead he was Frederick Lennox.
This was due to the tragic early death of his elder brother on the British Eastern Front in 1919 who was due to inherit the earldom.
Nevertheless, each duke continued to make their mark on Glorious Goodwood by ensuring that it moved with the times in terms of innovation, but also that it remained the traditional Goodwood by maintaining a high standard of racing that is synonymous with the event.
Since 1989 the Goodwood Estate has been under the stewardship of the tenth Duke and his wife and they have played a leading role in the continuation of the tradition of horses at the Estate and also the evolution of Glorious Goodwood into the event it is today.
In 1994 his son, the Earl of March, took over the management of the Goodwood Estate. The current Earl of March is continuing his father’s task of reinventing Glorious Goodwood and bringing it into the 21st Century.
He is also responsible for the introduction of several new events to society’s calendar held on his family’s estate, including the reopening of the Goodwood Motor Circuit in 1998 and in 2010 he organised Vintage at Goodwood, a celebration of British fashion and music – the first ever festival of its kind in the country.
With such an eminent collection of Dukes – all of whom have been ingrained in every aspect of society – it is no surprise that all of their endeavours, particularly those related to Glorious Goodwood, have been a huge success.
Each Duke has played an integral part of Glorious Goodwood’s transformation from a humble event for the militia to the magnificent affair it is today.
Goodwood attracts the very best from the international world of horse racing to its little corner in the Sussex Downs and this ensures that the event will remain a highlight of the public’s summers for many years to come.
The Goodwood Racecourse
Goodwood Racecourse is the premiere horse racing venue in Britain and offers spectators the chance to witness some of the most famous jockeys and fastest horses in the world.
Upon entering the Goodwood Estate you cannot help but be struck by the awe-inspiring views and the lively atmosphere that is a central part of Glorious Goodwood, as well as being vital to the success of the event.
Every summer, more than 100,000 people gather at the Goodwood Estate during the five-day Glorious Goodwood festival, seeking to play a part in the event’s chic, relaxed atmosphere.
Glorious Goodwood, like Wimbledon and Henley, is a quintessentially British event and unsurprisingly champagne and Pimm’s flow freely at the event.
To accompany your drink there is an abundance of the finest English strawberries on offer to spectators, which also provide a perfect snack to enjoy while watching the best racing in the country.
In the same way as its tennis and rowing equivalents, Glorious Goodwood offers race-goers the opportunity to experience a unique atmosphere which cannot possibly be replicated elsewhere. This quality ensures that everyone who flocks through the gates of the Goodwood estate from all over the world are never disappointed.
Raced on the finest turf which is manicured by a team of expert gardeners all year round, Goodwood’s race course is completely deserving of the adjective ‘glorious’. It is every jockey’s dream to win on this hallowed turf which has been graced by some of the greatest names in racing – humans and horses alike.
Found in the English countryside, Goodwood is still only five miles away from Chichester and so it is easily accessible for spectators.
The attractive setting provided by the rolling hills of the Downs is over-looked by an Iron Age hill fort and this ancient stronghold is often used as an informal grandstand by spectators because it offers fabulous views over the entire race course.
The race course’s unusual and intricate layout ensures that it provides horses and their jockeys with an experience which is unlike any other found elsewhere.
Glorious Goodwood’s racecourse provides several different courses which are used over the five-day festival and this guarantees that every race is unique – one thing is certain, Glorious Goodwood could definitely not be accused of being boring.
A highlight of the British racing calendar, Glorious Goodwood’s course only hosts flat races and there are nineteen meetings, including the five-day festival, each year. This plays a key role in keeping every Glorious Goodwood fresh and new, unlike at Ascot where races are held much more frequently throughout the year.
It also ensures that every single Glorious Goodwood is delivered to a high standard as the organisers and grounds men are able to focus better on producing an outstanding festival.
What about the actual races? Horses competing in lengthier races, such as the Goodwood Cup, are known as ‘stayers’, while those who participate in the shorter races are unsurprisingly named ‘sprinters’.
For the ‘Steward’s Cup Course’, a sprint event and everyone’s favourite, a straight section of the track is used which consists of six furlongs. However, this race is not as easy as it might seems because for the first furlong the thoroughbreds have to race uphill, before continuing downhill for the remainder.
Invoking the image of a cavalry charge, the Steward’s Cup is one of the oldest races which still takes place at Goodwood. Located at the end of this straight is a tight loop and here you will find the starting points for many of the longer-distance, endurance races that are held during the festival of racing.
However, it is the Goodwood Cup course which provides jockeys and horses alike with the greatest challenge. The race is so long, being run over two miles and five furlongs, that the start of this epic race (undoubtedly the highlight of the festival) is situated practically at the winning post.
The Goodwood Cup is a true assessment of both the ability of the rider and the fitness of their horse, as this course is designed to test every aspect of their beings – it is definitely not a walk in the park. The course designers at Glorious Goodwood have created a track that includes both straights and tight turns.
Throughout the loop at the end of the six furlong straight, the horses and their jockeys will encounter severe undulations on the turf, as well as sharp turns, and if either loses concentration for even a second – with the speed that they are racing at – it could spell disaster.
It is no wonder then that the ‘sporting and social highlight of the year’ is a favourite with the young, the old, the racing fan or just someone looking for an enjoyable day out.
For those who are unable to attend the prestigious event, coverage is available on Channel 4 which ensures that no matter where you are, you do not need to miss a single second of racing action.
Fabulous Fashion at Goodwood
For five days every summer, the Goodwood estate is awash with colour. A vibrant sea of Panamas and linen suits, fascinators and posh frocks adorns the stands of Glorious Goodwood. Here fashion, high society and horse racing enthusiasts combine to watch five enthralling days of sporting action.
Known for its fabulous fashion, the dress codes at Goodwood are relaxed enough that people are able to show their individual styles while still maintaining the high standard of the event. In the Richmond Enclosure, men are required to wear jackets and ties or polo neck jumpers.
However for those wishing to portray a more traditional Goodwood vibe that harks back to the early 20th Century, linen suits, waistcoats and the archetypal Glorious Goodwood Panama hat are a better choice.
As well as the more relaxed rules for men in the formal enclosures, women are also not restricted by the same regulations that govern Ascot’s Royal Enclosure. Instead, the Glorious Goodwood dress code states that women are only required to ‘dress smartly’ and are ‘encouraged to wear hats’.
The one thing that the dress code is immovable on is that jeans and shorts are not welcome at this elegant event.
Of all the race meets, Glorious Goodwood is definitely the chicest. Vivienne Sheriff, the event’s guest milliner in 2013, works as an ambassador for Glorious Goodwood and many of the spectators can often be seen displaying her vibrant creations.
At Glorious Goodwood ladies dress up, but they do not resort to cheapening themselves for so-called ‘fashion’, which is seen with ever-increasing frequency at Ascot and Aintree.
Instead they wear elegant, yet creative designs that are appropriate for the more relaxed ambiance of the event and gentlemen look suave in their linen suits or sports jackets. Goodwood has as a reputation as being a tasteful event – without anything brash.
‘But isn’t this boring?’ I hear you ask. Far from it. In fact, Goodwood is celebrated for its ‘gloriously’ different fashions. Women walk around in exotic headdresses and chic dresses while the men look dapper and the whole event is a cocktail of old traditions blended with new.
Now there is even more of an incentive for people to make an effort with their outfit for Glorious Goodwood as the event has organised a ‘Best Dressed Competition’ and the prizes make the extra effort required well worth it.
To celebrate their new partnership with Glorious Goodwood, L’Omarins – sponsors of the Queen’s Plate Stakes – have created the prize of a lifetime. As Glorious Goodwood says, ‘The sport of kings champions the queens of fashion’ and the prize on offer is certainly fit for a queen.
Guaranteed to ensure that the ‘fashion stakes’ are raised even higher at Glorious Goodwood, the judges of this competition will be searching for an elegant lady who embodies the spirit of the event by wearing the distinctive L’Omarins’ colours (which are blue and white) and is exquisitely dressed.
The lucky victor will win an all-expenses-paid trip for two to attend the L’Omarins Queen’s Plate race meeting in Cape Town, South Africa, with this once in a lifetime opportunity including a five night stay in a luxury hotel.
With the standard of the fashion already high at Glorious Goodwood, the introduction of this new event looks set to raise the bar even higher to astronomical levels.
The Races at Goodwood
So what can you expect while at Goodwood? With two Group 1 races, Glorious Goodwood provides you with the chance to witness the ‘crème-de-la-crème- racing world compete for the honour of being crowned a winner at such a prestigious event – as well as a chance to relax and enjoy the beautiful English countryside.
While Glorious Goodwood has none of the ‘stuffiness’ associated with a formal occasion, it definitely has the glamour. The Sussex Downs provide the perfect backdrop for a picnic and there are extensive grounds at the Goodwood Estate which are available for this purpose – the Secret Garden is a great place to visit.
So pack a box full of all of your favourite nibbles, Pimm’s (the stronger, the better) and maybe even some Champagne and then sit back and enjoy the racing – Glorious Goodwood is a perfect summer day out.
If picnics are not really your forte, Glorious Goodwood also employs a range of fabulous caterers offering a range of delicious food for you to dine on – there is no shortage of choice at Goodwood.
The racing action gets started at Glorious Goodwood on the Tuesday with the Opening Ceremony in which the Festival’s past winners are celebrated. On this first day, there is a wide variety of high-quality racing on display and the first feature race of festival is the Lennox Stakes, which is the most important race of the day.
Winners of the feature races are presented with specially commissioned cups which are revealed during the Opening Ceremony. Many enjoy attending this first day as the crowds are less dense and so you are better able to appreciate the racing action which is still as spectacular as it is on the other days of the festival.
No matter where you are – whether you are sat next to the race course or you are enjoying a glass of something bubbly in one of the enclosures – you are able to follow the action on Facebook and Twitter.
This allows you to gain extra information to help you to place a bet on the right horse, as well as helping you to understand what is happening – this Jacobean Estate has definitely arrived in the twenty-first century.
On the second day there is even more to enjoy. The Sussex Stakes, one of the two Group 1 races at Glorious Goodwood, is the major draw of day two and this prestigious race forms part of the British Champion Series, counting some of the sport’s greatest ever athletes amongst its victors.
People come from all over the world to attend the second day of the festival or enter their horses in the race, showing how highly regarded it is in the racing world.
Ladies’ Day is one of the most popular occasions of the festival. Thankfully not given the over exposure in the media as is afforded to Aintree and Ascot, Goodwood remains a glamorous event – not one where deep orange tans and scandalous dresses reign supreme.
Providing women with an opportunity to showcase their fashion sense and also a platform from which several new designers have been launched due to wide spread admiration of their designs, Ladies’ Day also includes a number of notable races.
The feature races of the third day of the festival are the historic Goodwood Cup and the Richmond Stakes (both group 2 races) and there is also some fun entertainment in the form of the Magnolia Cup race which involves female celebrities.
As if the previous three days had not been enough, the penultimate day of Glorious Goodwood offers a feast of high-quality racing for the more discerning spectator.
As well as four group races, the Betfred Mile steals the limelight on day four because it is the most cherished handicap of the festival due to its large amount of prize money – competitiveness between trainers and owners truly reaches boiling point during this fiercely contested race.
Day five is quite rightly the icing on the cake of the festival. If you were wondering how the previous four marvellous days could possibly be bettered, let me assure you it is achievable.
Saving the best till last, there is not one but two highlights of the day with the Steward’s Cup (a race with a long and illustrious history dating back to 1840 which offers the sprinters the chance to recreate the image of a cavalry charge) and the Nassau Stakes – the second of the group 1 races – providing a magnificent climax to Glorious Goodwood.
With five action-packed days such as these at the Glorious Goodwood Festival of Racing, it is no wonder that large crowds continue to be drawn to the event over two hundred years after it begun.
Past Winners at Goodwood
What makes a Glorious Goodwood Champion? To become a champion of a race at Glorious Goodwood, noble thoroughbreds must complete endless amounts of training on a regimented schedule in order to ensure that they reach peak condition precisely in time for their race.
This task falls to the trainers of the race horses, but they, with the owners, must also select the perfect jockey. Racing is about a partnership between man and beast, horses are noble creatures and a true jockey is one who understands his mount and how to aid it in reaching its full potential.
Spectators look to other events in the racing calendar in order to help them to try to place a bet on the winner.
Many examine the rankings horses have achieved in the Ascot Gold Cup in order to help them to determine the winner and the betting frenzy that ensues during Glorious Goodwood comes to a pinnacle on the final day during the running of the Steward’s Cup.
However, no matter how much research you have done into the horses in the race, you are not guaranteed to have picked the winner – if there is one certainty in racing, it is that there is none and this always provides an enthralling spectacle.
All of the races at Glorious Goodwood attract a top class field and so previous champions at the event include many of the most notable names in the racing world.
In the Goodwood Cup, the highlight of Thursday’s racing, the most successful horse was Double Trigger who managed to win the race a phenomenal three times and this race always provides spectators with a thrilling finish.
Previous winners of the Sussex Stakes can count the excellent Rock of Gibraltar and the mighty Frankel – holder of the record for becoming the first horse to win this prestigious race twice – amongst their ranks.
The historic Molecomb Stakes is not as prestigious as some of its other counterparts, but it still counts some of the best sprinters in history amongst its winners, such as Kafu, Fleeting Spirit and Monsieur Chevalier.
Goodwood is a very fast race track and so certain horses have a distinct edge over the rest of the field with the required quality being a fearless streak a mile long. Horses not in possession of this trait, known as ‘hold-up merchants’ are still able to win due to a clever plan and this is where the jockeys and trainers come in.
Many renowned jockeys have triumphed at Glorious Goodwood over the centuries and several have been crowned champion a multitude of times.
Goodwood is a racecourse that ‘requires plenty of riding’ and as it is similar in style to Epsom, therefore if you are able to win at the Epsom Derby, you stand a greater chance of winning at Glorious Goodwood.
The emphasis at Glorious Goodwood is speed, but due to the mix of gradients and undulations a jockey must also be able to settle their flighty thoroughbreds as well as urging them on.
Ryan Moore leads the way at Goodwood in terms of the amount of times he has become a champion at this event – in his career 58 of his horses have won from 286 rides – and he is followed by the likes of Frankie Dettori and Richard Hughes.
It is not just jockeys who have enjoyed repeated success at Glorious Goodwood but trainers as well. The most successful trainer at the track between 2005 and 2009 was Richard Hannon who trained 51 champions out of 484 entrees.
Goodwood’s racecourse appears to bring out the best in humans and horses alike and it is very effective in separating those who can be champion and those who simply cannot. During the race competitors have the choice; to rise to the occasion and deliver a winning race or sink like a stone.
Glorious Goodwood combines the best elements of British racing and culture and creates an event that is unforgettable. If you have not visited already, then you are missing out on something truly spectacular.