Goodwood Racecourse Guide
Glorious Goodwood is one of the biggest race meetings on the UK calendar. We’ve got information on that brilliant occasion alongside a more general look at Goodwood Racecourse on this page.
Glorious Goodwood is up there with Royal Ascot and the Cheltenham Festival when it comes to the biggest and best events for horse racing fans. But whether you want information on the course’s major festival, history or practical information, our Goodwood guide is here to help.
The festival most people know as Glorious Goodwood is actually called the Goodwood Festival and, for sponsorship reasons, the Qatar Goodwood Festival. It is held in late July or early August each year and serves up five days of top class flat racing.
As one of the biggest race meetings around, there are usually some excellent free bets and offers for Glorious Goodwood. It is certainly a great occasion for punters and fans of racing, with betting action from Tuesday to Saturday and a number of huge contests.
It can’t compete with the orgy of Group 1 races we see at Royal Ascot but even so, the three top level races the meeting hosts are a significant proportion of the 36 on the flat schedule each year. Those, and the Goodwood Festival’s other major races are listed below.
- Sussex Stakes – Group 1, 1m
- Goodwood Cup – Group 1, 2m
- Nassau Stakes – Group 1, 1m 1f 192y
- Lennox Stakes – Group 2, 7f
- Richmond Stakes – Group 2, 6f
- Lillie Langtry Stakes – Group 2, 1m 6f
- King George Stakes – Group 2, 5f
- Stewards’ Cup – Handicap, 6f
As with most of the biggest and best horse racing meetings in the country, the Goodwood feast is notable for its variety as well as its quantity. There is a real range of races, both in terms of distance, standard, size of field and entry restrictions, so fans of all styles and types of flat racing are well catered for.
Each day has its own appeal with some of the biggest races kicking things off, and you can see a summary of each day below:
- Tuesday – the opening ceremony and Group 1 Goodwood Cup are the highlights of the first day
- Wednesday – all eyes are on the Sussex Stakes, won twice by Frankel and worth £1m
- Thursday – it’s Ladies’ Day, with female horses, jockeys and fans to the fore and £1m up for grabs in the Nassau Stakes
- Friday – day four offers the best depth of class racing, with four group races
- Saturday – Glorious Goodwood draws to a close with the historic cavalry charge that is the Stewards Cup
Visiting Goodwood Races
If you want to visit for the Goodwood Meeting or any other race day at the course, here’s what you need to know:
- Location – Goodwood Racecourse is five miles north of Chichester, about 60 miles from London and not far from Brighton and the south coast
- Address – Goodwood Racecourse, Chichester, West Sussex, PO18 0PS
- Contact details – firstname.lastname@example.org or 01243 755022
- Tickets – there are a wide range of ticket prices but even for the major Festival tickets start at £20. See Goodwood’s ticketing portal for all options
- Dress code – fancy dress and sleeveless tops (for men) are not allowed. Other than that there is a dress code only in the Richmond Enclosure, with men required to wear a jacket accompanied by a tie, cravat or polo-neck sweater. Ladies are encouraged to dress stylishly and Goodwood state “A floaty dress or an elegant top and trouser/skirt combination will suit any of our racedays.” Note that jeans, trainers, shorts and fancy dress are not permitted.
- Transport – driving is easy whilst Chichester train station is five miles away, with taxis and busses available from there. There is lots of parking with some free, and better areas paid for plus free parking for disabled guests
- Accommodation – the onsite Goodwood Hotel is the most convenient option with further small hotels and B and Bs in Chichester.
- Hospitality – Goodwood has no shortage of hospitality options. As well as private boxes there are a selection of exclusive areas and restaurants
- Food and drink – once again Goodwood offers something for everyone, with Michelin-starred dining at Glorious Goodwood, various restaurants, food kiosks and the option to bring a picnic into the cheapest area of the course
Goodwood Racecourse is owned and controlled by the Goodwood Estate. That is essentially the Duke of Richmond, whose seat is at Goodwood House, with many of Goodwood’s most famous races being linked to this peerage.
Racing at Goodwood dates back to the start of the 19th century. Officers of the local Sussex Militia wanted somewhere to race and the Third Duke of Richmond allowed them to use Goodwood. The officers had previously held their annual races at Petworth Park, with the permission of the Earl of Egremont. However, in 1801 the Earl withdrew his hosting and the Third Duke of Richmond, Colonel of the Sussex Militia, stepped in.
In 1802 the first Goodwood races were held on a course known as the Harroway and the event was a great success. The two-day meeting quickly became a three-day affair and was soon held according to Jockey Club Rules, the Jockey Club having been established in 1752.
Racing continued to grow and become more popular, spreading from the upper echelons of society initially to become something even working men could enjoy. This was especially the case as the UK moved away from post-war (the Second World War) austerity and in the 1950s crowds of 55,000 and more came to see summer racing at Goodwood.
Goodwood has witnessed a number of racing firsts over the years. The first first came in the 1830s, when Lord George Bentinck introduced a flag start. Lord George Bentinck was a key figure in the Jockey Club and also a close friend of the 5th Duke of Richmond. As well as introducing the flag to start races, as opposed to someone just shouting “go!”, Bentinck also introduced numbered racecards.
Much later, in 1952, Goodwood became the first course to have race commentary broadcast, the BBC having radio commentary in July that year. That same year, Goodwood also became the first course to have loudspeakers at the track to broadcast commentaries and other race information.
More Goodwood Growth
In the 1960s the growth of racing really took off, in part due to the expansion of media capabilities as radios became widely owned and more people began to have televisions. The legalisation of betting shops was, of course, also a huge factor.
Several meetings were introduced in this decade, massively expanding the total number of races the course hosted. In the 1980s a first evening meeting was held at Goodwood and then in the 1990s it held its first ever Sunday meeting as laws were relaxed.
This continued growth saw a record crowd for the Glorious Meeting in 2015, with a huge total of more than 103,000 attending over the five days. That figure is now usually steady at around the 100,000 mark, with a massive 26,000 plus in attendance on the Saturday alone in 2016.
Goodwood’s Other Meetings and Key Races
Many of Goodwood’s biggest, best, richest and most prestigious races are part of Glorious Goodwood, of course. However, racing takes place between May and October and there are a number of other excellent meetings worth coming to Goodwood for. Here are the highlights, though note that there are further smaller meetings and race days as well.
The season gets underway at Goodwood in early May most years, with racing taking place on Saturday and being very well priced. This is a nice gentle way to dust the cobwebs off and although there aren’t any major races it is well worth a visit, especially if the weather is decent.
The May Festival takes place at the other end of the month and sees the racing step up a gear. This three-day affair spans Thursday, Friday and Saturday, with tickets slightly more expensive on Saturday. There are three Listed races on the agenda, with Saturday’s Daisy Warwick Stakes, a relatively new contest, probably the pick of the bunch.
August Bank Holiday Meeting
The Bank Holiday Weekend takes place at the end of August on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and if the weather treats us kindly is a great three days of racing. With tickets just £12 in the cheapest enclosure it is great value too. The Group 2 Celebration Mile is one of the bigger races, whilst the Prestige Stakes (for two year olds) was won in 2017 by Billesdon Brook who went on to shock us all by landing the 1000 Guineas at 66/1 the following year.
In addition to the meetings above, as said, Goodwood has a host of others. June sees a series of Friday night meetings as well as a family fun day whilst there are two midweek fixtures in September. The curtain is usually drawn in mid-October with a harvest and hops-themed occasion (as you do).
Goodwood is a quick course that will tend to favour a smaller, nippier animal, rather than a long-striding galloper. A picturesque and pretty course, for shorter races of five or six furlongs it is essentially a straight, downhill run, with races over greater distance featuring a bend, a slight uphill stretch and some undulations.
Over the minimum distances you would do well to back a hold-up runner, with very few winners being able to make all. Many argue that Goodwood is the hardest course to win from the front at, especially over just five furlongs.
It is classed as right-handed but obviously that only applies to races of seven furlongs and up. Races over seven and eight furlongs feature one sharp right-hand turn but things get more interesting over the longer distances. There is a switchback and the longest races of more than two miles will see a gentle left-hand turn followed by two sharp rights in quick succession.
This unusual layout means that past course form can be telling in longer races, with the bends testing, and tending to get congested. In shorter contests being used to the all-downhill nature is important.