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Goodwood is five miles north of Chichester in West Sussex. It is only 30 miles from Brighton and Southampton and 60 miles from London. The racecourse is clearly sign-posted from the A27 at Chichester. There is a frequent rail service from London Victoria to Chichester and a coastal rail service from Brighton and Portsmouth. The 900 bus service runs every half an hour from the station to the course.
Goodwood is regarded as the most scenic racecourse in the British Isles with superb views over the Sussex Downs. It is a very undulating track with a straight six furlongs. The first furlong is uphill but the remainder is downhill, making for some thrilling finishes. The five furlong track is one of the fastest in the country
The track is officially right-handed, although it is a switchback track with horses setting out left-handed for races over two miles and beyond before looping back into the home straight. Goodwood is notorious for horses meeting trouble in running, particularly off the sharp home turn. A low draw may hold a slight advantage in sprint races while those drawn high in large fields can be at a disadvantage over seven furlongs or a mile.
Goodwood Horse Racing History
The racecourse dates back to 1802 when the Third Duke of Richmond introduced horse racing for the Sussex Militia. It remains part of the Goodwood Estate which also stages Motorsport, Flying, Golf, Shooting and Cricket. The Duke was one of the first patrons of equestrian artist George Stubbs. His legacy as the founder of the racecourse has been passed down through the generations.
Goodwood became increasingly popular after the Second World War and 55,000 spectators made their way to the first day of the Festival in 1953. The May meeting was added in 1968 and the racecourse has undergone many improvements since. Goodwood staged its first evening meeting in 1985 and Sir Peter O’Sullevan opened the Sussex Stand at the 1990 Festival meeting.
Goodwood’s Festival meeting, known as “Glorious Goodwood”, takes place in late July/early August. The five-day meeting runs from Tuesday to Friday and features many of the horses successful at Royal Ascot in June.
Goodwood’s Spring Meeting features Derby and Oaks Trial races, although they have become less significant in recent seasons. The Celebration Mile meeting takes place in August and there is a two-day Autumn meeting in September.
Goodwood stages three Group 1 races, all at the summer festival meeting. The Sussex Stakes is one of the most prestigious mile races of the season with three-year-olds clashing with their elders. The race was originally run as a six-furlong race for two-year-olds in 1848, becoming a one mile event for three-year-olds in 1878. The Sussex Stakes did not open up to older horses until 1960 and prize money for the race is now in excess of £1 million.
The Goodwood Cup is often the natural target of Ascot Gold Cup winners and was finally granted Group 1 status in 2017. The Cup dates back to 1808 and is run over two miles. The final Group 1 race of the meeting is the Nassau Stakes for fillies and mares over ten furlongs. There are twelve Group races in total at Glorious Goodwood. The Group 2 Vintage Stakes and Richmond Stakes are valuable two-year-old races. The Group 2 King George Stakes is one of the most significant five furlongs races in the calendar.
The signature race of the Festival is the Stewards’ Cup, a six furlong handicap now staged on the closing Saturday. The inaugural running of this race took place in 1840 and it has long been established as one of the premier sprint handicaps of the season.
Famous Races and Racehorses at Goodwood
The Sussex Stakes has been won by some of the very best milers in racing history. Brigadier Gerard (1971), Wollow (1976), Kris (1979), Zilzal (1989) and Rock of Gibraltar (2002) are all on the roll of honour. Towering above them all is Frankel (2011 and 2012), the first horse to win the race twice. His eagerly awaited clash with the previous year’s winner Canford Cliffs in 2011 was dubbed “the Duel on the Downs” but it failed to live up to expectations. Canford Cliffs picked up an injury during the race and was easily brushed aside, Frankel winning by five lengths.
Frankel repeated his victory 12 months’ later, this time beating Farhh by six lengths. He started at odds of 1-20 favourite, the shortest price of his unbeaten fourteen race career. That provided Sir Henry Cecil with a record seventh Sussex Stakes victory.
Double Trigger will always be fondly remembered at Goodwood, the winner of three Goodwood Cups. He was successful for Mark Johnston in 1995, 1997 and 1998. In 1997 he defeated his full brother Double Eclipse by a neck. The gallant Persian Punch also captured the hearts of the racing public, winning here in 2001 and 2003.
Further Flight recorded two Goodwood Cup victories for Barry Hills, ridden by his son Michael in 1990 and 1991. Big Orange attempted to join Double Trigger in the record books in 2017 but could not repel the younger Stradivarius. Four time Ascot Gold Cup winner Yeats also won two Goodwood Cups.
Sir Henry Cecil also tops the records in the Nassau Stakes with eight victories, three of them courtesy of Midday (2009, 2010 and 2011). The short-head victory of Ouija Board over Alexander Goldrun was arguably one of the greatest races ever staged at Goodwood. The two horses battled bravely throughout the final two furlongs and neither deserved to lose.
Five horses have won the Stewards’ Cup on two occasions, the most recent being Sky Diver (1967 and 1968). Soba was one of the most popular winners in the history of the race in 1982. Other notable winners include Petong (1984), Lochsong (1992), Borderlescott (2006) and Hoof It (2011). Lochsong would return to Goodwood to win the King George in 1993 and 1994.
Troy won the Predominate Stakes (now known as the Cocked Hat Stakes) before winning the Epsom Derby in 1979. This race was also won by Dubai Millennium in 1999.
Goodwood Betting Tips
Mark Johnston is the trainer to follow at Goodwood, particularly at the Festival meeting. Richard Hannon is the only trainer to saddle more runners here in the past three seasons, but Johnston has maintained a higher strike-rate and recorded a level stake profit. David Simcock has rewarded his followers at the Sussex track with a healthy level stakes profit and Henry Candy has a near 25% strike rate.
Ryan Moore has a fine record in big races at Goodwood but William Buick has proved more profitable to a level stake. Andrea Atzeni is also a jockey worth following here.