Glorious Goodwood, now know as the Qatar Goodwood Festival, is one of the key flat racing fixtures in the world. Held in the stunning West Sussex countryside, not only does the meeting include some of the best jockeys, trainers and races throughout the flat racing season, but it comes with all the glitz and glamour that these high-profile events seem to ooze.
The meeting is held at Goodwood Racecourse and is often held at the end of July or early August. It’s one of very few meeting that takes place over 5 days, with each day set up to target a wide range of calibre of races.
Glorious Goodwood Major Races
Late July/early August can mean only one thing for racing fans. That’s right, its time for Goodwood’s annual five-day equine spectacular. In what has been one of the most glorious summers in recent memory, the name of this ever popular festival could hardly be more fitting this year. Glorious in name, glorious in nature, expect many of the stars of the season to shine bright in Sussex during this meeting.
|Day||Race||Grade / Length||Last Winner|
|Tuesday||Goodwood Cup||Group 1 / 2m||Trueshan (2021)|
|Tuesday||Lennox Stakes||Group 2 / 7f||Kinross (2021)|
|Wednesday||Sussex Stakes||Group 1 / 1m||Alcohol Free (2021)|
|Thursday||Nassau Stakes||Group 1 / 1m 2f||Lady Bowthorpe (2021)|
|Friday||King George Stakes||Group 2 / 5f||Suesa (2021)|
|Friday||Golden Mile Handicap||Class 2 / 1m||Maydanny (2021)|
|Saturday||Stewards’ Cup||Class 2 / 6f||Commanche Falls (2021)|
The course itself is iconic, and not just because it’s relation to Glorious Goodwood. There are a number of courses within the circuit, including the Stewards Cup Course, Craven, Gratwicke, Bentnick and Cup Course. Whilst they all have their own names it really just signifies different sections on the track where horses start from, depending on the race.
The course is one of the hardest flat racing tracks in the UK and is especially tough for horses that are new to the meeting. In fact, there have been a historically low number of horses that have ever won on debut at Goodwood. The main reason for this is that it’s got a very awkward right-hand turn and then after an uphill pull and almost immediate downhill towards the finish line.
Whilst you may link the downhill section to speed, it’s actually thought that races are won and lost on the turn and the uphill section. The switch between downhill and uphill is very quick and often means horses lose stride and lose their rhythm within the race. This is where having a good jockey that knows the track will often stand novice horses in good stead.
Goodwood Festival Guide
The festival begins on Tuesday and runs through to Saturday, with top racing on each of the five days. There are 8 races on day one with 7 per day for the rest of the meeting making a total of 36. Included within these are three Group 1 races, five Group 2 races, five Group 3 races as well as a host of valuable handicaps.
As Glorious Goodwood is one of the pinnacles of the flat racing season, it will come as little surprise to hear that the best of the best brings out their big guns for the festival. The likes of Aiden O’Brien, John Gosden, Sir Henry Cecil and Richard Hannon Sr. have ben by far and away the most successful trainers over the last 5 years or so. If you were having to pick just one from the bunch, you’d have to say it was Aiden O’Brein, whose won both of the last 2 Nassau Stakes with Minding and Winter, together with the 2016 Sussex Stakes with The Gurkha.
The successful jockeys have been a bit more spread out, but still include some of the best of the best. Recent winners from the Group 1 races have included Ryan Moore, William Buick, Jamie Spencer, Kieron Falon and Tom Queally. Below is an overview of each day along with the most recent winners of the feature races.
Day 1 – Tuesday
The opening day is seen as one of the most prestigious days racing in the calendar. Tens of thousands of people would normally flock to the track, and whilst its very much seen as a ‘social highlight’ the quality of racing does shine through.
The highlight of the day on the tack is the Goodwood Cup. In fact, many would suggest that this recently upgraded Group 1 race is the highlight of the week. There have been some quality winners of the event in the past, including Double Trigger, Further Flight and more recently, Stradivarius. With 0ver £283k up for grabs for 1st prize, it’s also one of the richest races of the week.
Tuesday’s Full Racecard (2021)
|Time||Race||Grade / Length|
|13:50||Chesterfield Cup Handicap||Class 2 / 1m 2f|
|14:25||Vintage Stakes||Group 2 / 7f|
|15:00||Lennox Stakes||Group 2 / 7f|
|15:35||Goodwood Cup||Group 1 / 2m|
|16:10||Back To Goodwood Handicap||Class 2 / 5f|
|16:45||British EBF Maiden Stakes||Class 2 / 6f|
|17:20||Fillies’ Handicap||Class 3 / 1m|
|13:45||South Downs Fillies’ Handicap||Class 3 / 6f|
Day 2 – Wednesday
Day 2 is all about one race; the Qatar Sussex Stakes. It’s a one mile sprint and comes with a hefty purse of £1,000,000 with £567,100 of that going to the winner in 2021. It’s the festival’s flagship race these days and has been won by the likes of Frankel, Rock of Gibraltar and Henrythenavigator, the name just a few. The Oak Tree Stakes and the Molecomb Stakes are two more highly competitive Group races on the day as well.
Wednesday’s Full Racecard (2021)
|Time||Race||Grade / Length|
|13:50||Unibet Handicap||Class 2 / 1m 4f|
|14:25||Oak Tree Stakes||Group 3 / 7f|
|15:00||Molecomb Stakes||Group 3 / 5f|
|15:35||Sussex Stakes||Group 1 / 1m|
|16:10||Alice Keppel Fillies’ Conditions St.||Class 2 / 5f|
|16:45||EBF Premier Fillies’ Handicap||Class 2 / 1m 2f|
|17:20||Singleton Handicap||Class 3 / 7f|
Day 3 – Thursday
Ladies day! The style council are in town on the Thursday as Ladies don their best dress and the blokes stick on their best suit. Whilst not one a race you target for betting, the day has become synonymous with The Magnolia Cup, a race that includes 12 novice female jockeys riding for charity at one of the biggest race meetings in the world.
Thursday includes 3 Group races, including the Richmond Stakes, which is a Group 2 and run over just 6 furlongs. It is a hotly contested race and horses go at a staggering pace for the short sprint to the finish line. The other Group race comes in the form of the Gordon Stakes over one mile, four furlongs.
The pick of the races on day three however is the Nassau Stakes, one of just three Group 1 races throughout the week. The race comes with a huge prize pool of £600,000, with the winner picking up a cheque in excess of £340,000.
Thursday’s Full Racecard (2021)
|Time||Race||Grade / Length|
|13:50||Unibet Kincsem Handicap||Class 2 / 1m 2f|
|14:25||Richmond Stakes||Group 2 / 6f|
|15:00||Gordon Stakes||Group 3 / 1m 4f|
|15:35||Nassau Stakes||Group 1 / 1m 2f|
|16:10||Browne & Rudnick Nursery Handicap||Class 2 / 7f|
|16:45||EBF Maiden Fillies’ Stakes||Class 2 / 7f|
|17:20||Halnaker Handicap||Class 2 / 5f|
Day 4 – Friday
The King George Stakes is the pick of the bunch on Friday. Another short and sharp race measuring at just five furlongs, horses often pick up speeds of over 40mph as they come past the grandstand in what has to be one of the more exhilarating races of the day.
Other notable mentions must go to the other Group races in the Thoroughbred Stakes and the Glorious Stakes. There is also the hotly contested Golden Mile Handicap and the marathon Goodwood Handicap.
Friday’s Full Racecard (2021)
|Time||Race||Grade / Length|
|13:50||Goodwood Handicap||Class 2 / 2m 4½f|
|14:25||Thoroughbred Stakes||Group 3 / 1m|
|15:00||Golden Mile Handicap||Class 2 / 1m|
|15:35||King George Stakes||Group 2 / 5f|
|16:10||Glorious Stakes||Group 3 / 1m 4f|
|16:45||Unibet Nursery Handicap||Class 2 / 6f|
|17:20||Tatler Stakes||Class 3 / 1m 3f|
Day 5 – Saturday
The final day of the festival doesn’t go off with a whimper. The Stewards Cup is a 6f sprint sees a huge field of established sprinters and one of the most anticipated handicap races of the year. The highest class race on Saturday is the Group 2 Lillie Langtry Stakes over the staying trip of 1m 6f.
Saturday’s Full Racecard (2021)
|Time||Race||Grade / Length|
|13:50||Stewards’ Sprint Handicap||Class 2 / 6f|
|14:25||Summer Handicap||Class 2 / 1m 6f|
|15:00||Lillie Langtry Stakes||Group 2 / 1m 6f|
|15:35||Stewards’ Cup||Class 2 / 6f|
|16:10||Thames Materials Handicap||Class 2 / 7f|
|16:45||British EBF Maiden Stakes||Class 2 / 7f|
|17:20||Signature Apprentice Handicap||Class 3 / 1m 1f|
Qatar Goodwood Festival Sponsorship
In 2014 one of the biggest sponsorship deals in horse racing was struck, when Qatar has a £2million big accepted to sponsor Goodwood Racecourse over the coming 10 years. As part of the deal Qatar have not only committed to increasing prizemoney for races at the racecourse, but also invest into British horseracing as a whole.
Behind the Goodwood deal is the Al Thani family, who already have a plethora of horses that they train around the world and widely established as one of the best. As part of the deal the naming rights to a lot of races on offer at Glorious Goodwood will now include ‘Qatar’ in that. For example, the Sussex Stakes is now the Qatar Sussex Stakes.
But, the biggest change is to that of the iconic festival name. Glorious Goodwood will not officially be known as the Qatar Goodwood Festival, a move that has been criticised by fans of the racetrack and meeting. The flip side is that sponsorship money will increase year on year for the festival, with a prize fund of over £4.9 million achieved for the 2021 festival.
The racecourse was set up by the then Third Duke of Richmond. It was actually erected to allow service men and women to enjoy some relaxation time due to the Duke of Richmond being a Colonel in the army.
As the track started to pick up popularity, so did the intensity of the racing on show. By 1801 the meeting was already a success and as the two day layover didn’t seem enough, it was quickly expanded to 3 days, which was approved by the Jockey Club at the time.
In 1812, we saw the first running of the Goodwood Cup, still highly considered to be one of the standout races at the meeting today. Whilst the festival wasn’t quite like we know it today, it is widely regarded that these were the first steps in what has become and iconic meeting for horse racing fans and punters alike.
The meeting was originally run in March, but soon switched to the late July slot that we know today.
By 1953 we had seen several running’s of the Sussex Stakes, Nassau Stakes and the Molecomb Stakes. But, the Glorious Goodwood weekend was still the only racing that took place at the racecourse. In the same year the event saw 53,000 people enter on a Tuesday, with some 21,000 situated on Trundel Hill, a number that has still not been surpassed today.
The event eventually increased to 5 days in 1970, seeing the Saturday be included to the schedule.
The Magnolia Cup has become one of the most important races at the meeting. But, it’s got nothing to do with who wins and much more about who takes part. It’s aimed to raise money for charity and each year 12 brave women who have little or even no riding ability go head to head.
The race comes with a few changes and each rider are able to wear their own silks for the race, designed by a range of companies and even schools from the local area. The money that’s raised from the race goes to a dedicated charity for the year and in 2019 that charity is Wellbeing of Women, a leading UK women’s health charity.
The race has been running since 2010 and in that time, have been able to raise of £1.2million for charities across the UK.
Frankel v Canford Cliffs 2011
The ‘Duel on the Downs’ was dubbed as one of the biggest races of the 21stCentury. It was a race that ironically only included 4 horses, but that didn’t matter as it was only about 2 horses who has been street ahead of their rivals for some time; Frankel and Canford Cliffs.
Frankel came into the race undefeated and had won 7 from 7, most notably the 2,000 Guineas by an astonishing 6 lengths. He went off in the race as 8/13 favourite. Canford Cliffs was slightly older than Frankel and had seen losses earlier in his career. But, the horse had won 5 out of his last 5 Group 1 appearances, beating some huge names in the process, including Goldikova, Makfi and Twice Over.
Horse’s Record Prior to the 2011 Sussex Stakes
|Age||Races||Wins||Group 1 Wins||Rating||Total Prize Money|
Frankel went on to win that race and also all his remaining 6 races following that. His Timeform rating when he retired of 147 is the highest that’s ever been seen and with 14 wins from 14 races, will go down as one of the greats.
Following that race, Canford Cliffs was later retired to stud due to an injury. With 7 wins from 11 races, he will always be regarded as a top horse and in 2011 was ranked second best miler in the world, one spot behind that of his nemesis, Frankel.
Big Orange will always be regarded as one of the best 2 milers that the Goodwood Cup has seen. Winning in 2015 and 2016, the horse, trained by Michael Ball, owned by Bill Gredley and ridden by Jamie Spencer become the first back to back winner of the race since Double Trigger in 1998.
After Winning the Ascot Gold Cup in 2017 over 2 miles and 4 furlongs, Big Orange was favourite to complete a hat-trick of Goodwood Cup wins but narrowly missed out after finishing second to Stradivarius.
With 8 wins to his name from 24 races and over £1.2million in prizemoney earned so far, he’s definitely going to be regarded as one of the best over the turf at Goodwood.