Head down to world-famous Goodwood estate this August to experience the excitement and glamour of one of the most important race meetings in the world: The Qatar Goodwood Festival. Our guide will help you make the most of the day, and maybe even bag you some winners…
Glorious Goodwood: The C&TH Guide
A Bit of Background
Even if you’re not a racing fan, you will surely have heard of the Goodwood estate in West Sussex. Owned by the Duke of Richmond and his family, it stands as one of the most impressive and beautiful estates in the country – and certainly one of the most active! Goodwood hosts a large variety of world-renowned events every year such as the Festival of Speed and Goodwood Revival, drawing a multitude of guests from all over.
The Qatar Goodwood Festival, popularly known as ‘Glorious Goodwood’, is one of the biggest social and racing events of the year, concluding the English summer season in style. The 2015 sponsorship contract with Qatar Racing & Equestrian club allowed for bigger race prizes than ever, as a result drawing the best competitors from all over the world and showcasing the highest calibre of sport. But not to break from tradition, the social aspect of the festival is still of the utmost importance. Famously described as ‘a garden party with racing tacked on’ by King Edward VII, the style, entertainment and food at Goodwood are second to none.
The Qatar Goodwood Festival takes place from 1 to 5 August this year, bringing guests five days packed full of thrilling action and some of the greatest races in the world. It’s undoubtedly the most beautiful racecourse in England with panoramic views of the lush green hills of the Sussex Downs, the Sussex coastline and the city of Chichester.
Goodwood boasts three prestigious Group 1 races, taking place over the first three days of the event, as well as smaller races which nonetheless see horses hurtling at speeds of over 40mps past the grandstands.
The Qatar Goodwood Cup is on the first day of the event. Recently upgraded to Group 1 status, it is the only Group 1 race of two miles in the UK and sees some of the best in the business vying for the £500,000 prize.
Don’t miss the Qatar Sussex Stakes! It’s the biggest race with £1m in prize money and a highlight of the flat racing season, previously won by Frankel, the highest-rated horse in history, in 2011 and 2012.
The third day of Glorious Goodwood is Ladies’ Day, by far the most glamorous of the festival. The most important events of the day are the prestigious Group 1 Qatar Nassau Stakes race and the Magnolia Cup, a unique ladies’ celebrity race.
The feature race on day four is the Qatar King George Stakes, and there are three further Group races. Another highlight is the ‘Best Dressed’ Competition hosted by Ormarins, the theme being their signature blue and white, in which the lady with the most elegant and original outfit will win the trip of a lifetime to South Africa. Better start getting ready now…
The Qatar Stewards Cup is a sight to behold, with over 20 sprinters thundering down the Goodwood strait in pursuit of the £250,000 prize.
The highlight of Ladies’ Day deserves a special mention. The Magnolia Cup is a race like no other, contested by inspirational women from the worlds of business, media, fashion and sport; some with riding experience, others who have learned specifically for the event, but none licensed jockeys. Drawing crowds in excess of 25,000, 12 riders will take place this year to raise money for UK children’s mental health charity Place2Be.
The riders wear bespoke jockey silks created by leading designers, who in the past have included the likes of Vivienne Westwood and Kate Moss, to make for a fabulously fashionable and colourful spectacle. For the first time this year, pupils at Place2Be schools were invited to submit their own designs for the jockey silks, the winner being chosen by Suki Waterhouse and worn by one lucky rider.
Notable participants for this year’s Cup include Olympic medallist Sarah Ayton, milliner to the Royals Emily London, former CEO of TalkTalk Dido Harding and Charlotte Hogg, former COO of the Bank of England. A fun and exciting event for a great cause.
Everyone knows that you don’t just go to Glorious Goodwood for the races! From food to music, there’s fun for kids and adults alike.
Guests can enjoy both formal and informal dining options, both of which are known for their excellent quality. Upgrade your ticket to dine at award-winning The Secret Garden, or treat yourself to the Charlston Hunt Restaurant with its unbeatable panorama of Chichester and the English Channel, not to mention the head-on views of the finish line.
There’s live music at every fixture, roaming performers on the estate and the music continues long after racing ends, while there’s a wonderful adventure playground for younger racegoers. All set against the backdrop of the rolling Sussex countryside, the atmosphere of relaxed sophistication keeps visitors coming back year on year.
The Qatar Goodwood Festival’s Style Guide explains the levels of formality required for each enclosure, the Richmond Enclosure being the most formal. It is advised to embrace a quintessentially English style of dressing, which is smart but never stuffy, and less formal than most of the other events of the summer season. Guests are encouraged to dress up, but mostly to express themselves.
For the Richmond Enclosure, we recommend a summery wedding outfit and a hat – this is the perfect place to experiment with millinery and stand out. Gentlemen are required to wear a tie and jacket, but to be relaxed and elegant. The classic is a linen suit, topped with a Panama hat.
Brush up on your racing knowledge before going to make the most of the occasion, with this Beginner’s Guide to Racing.
Read Goodwood’s guide to picking a winner so that you’re in with a sporting chance of leaving the course with that winning feeling!
Catch the mini bus 20 minutes before the start time of certain races for the unique opportunity to watch the runners and riders bursting from the starting stalls.
Gents: Get in the mood by donning the official racing stripe colours of yellow and red. You can buy special cufflinks, braces and a rather dapper Panama here.
If you haven’t already, buy your tickets to the most exciting event of the season here.