There can be few racecourses in England more stunningly situated than Goodwood, this Flat-only course being located close to the south coast city of Chichester on the glorious South Downs. This is without a doubt one of the finest racecourses in the British Isles and while the switchback nature of the track can cause many runners a few issues, this doesn’t prevent Goodwood from hosting one of racing’s annual flagship events.
Glorious Goodwood, officially known as the Qatar Goodwood Festival, is one of the quintessential race meetings of the summer, with the stand-out races over the five-day racing feast being the Sussex Stakes, Stewards Cup, Nassau Stakes and Goodwood Cup. Elsewhere in the racing calendar, three-day meetings also take place in May and August and Goodwood has an atmosphere quite unlike any other major track in the UK.
Mark Johnston holds a healthy lead at the top of the trainers’ table over the past three years (as of July 2020) with 30 wins from 177 runners while pick of the jockeys at this course is Oisin Murphy with 21 wins from 140 rides over the same period.
Goodwood Flat Course
The track at Goodwood is one of the trickiest around and is undulating with two main bends, the lower bend being used for races of less than a mile and a quarter and the top bend in use for races of over 11 furlongs.
This is an especially difficult course for horses and jockeys, with hold-up horses tending to come up short in the straight, especially so when kept at the rail. Given the undulating nature of the track, horses that race close to the pace are at an advantage, especially in longer contests which involve a number of sharp turns, more than one of which are taken downhill making it hard to control a horse’s speed.
Goodwood is essentially a sharp, right-handed track for longer races with a tight triangular loop attached to a straight. The five-furlong course is extremely fast, so speedy sorts have an advantage here and the same is true of contests over six furlongs. Both of those distances are run on the straight course, the six-furlong straight being joined by a triangular loop which is run right-handed.
There are downhill gradients where the turn meets the straight tending to favour handy, nimble types more so than bigger long-striding runners, especially in the shorter distance races. Horses which tend to perform well on similar courses such as Epsom and Brighton usually tend to impress at Goodwood.
In races of between two miles and 2m 5f, runners head the ‘wrong’ way along the straight away from the finish line, then they branch to the left at the lower bend, go right around the loop and head back to the winning post. In races of between 7f and 2m, horses use a variety of configurations of the track, meaning that how the course rides and what biases there are, are very much dependent on distance.
The effect of the draw is in evidence at Goodwood with a low draw offering some benefit in the shortest races on the straight course. In contrast, high numbers tend to be better on the round course, especially over distances of seven furlongs and one mile. However when it rides soft, jockeys head over towards the stand rail which alters that bias somewhat. Over the past few years, a high draw has been preferable in the Stewards’ Cup, however this usually depends on where the pace is coming from.
Major Races at Goodwood
|Start Date||Race||Grade||Last Winner|
|30th Jul 2020||Nassau Stakes||Group 1||Fancy Blue (11/4)|
|29th Aug 2020||Celebration Mile Stakes||Group 2||Century Dream (11/4)|
|1st Aug 2020||Stewards’ Cup||Class 2||Summerghand (22/1)|
|31st Jul 2020||King George Stakes||Group 2||Battaash (2/7)|
|31st Jul 2020||Golden Mile Handicap||Class 2||Prompting (3/1)|
|29th Jul 2020||Sussex Stakes||Group 1||Mohaather (3/1)|
|28th Jul 2020||Goodwood Cup||Group 1||Stradivarius (4/7)|
|28th Jul 2020||Lennox Stakes||Group 2||Space Blues (2/1)|