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Andrea Calo 30th Sep 2008 - 11:19

Glorious Goodwood and Goodwood betting

Some of the best horseracing and betting in Europe happens at Glorious Goodwood, and the racecourse is widely held to be one of the world’s most beautiful. But that isn’t why Glorious Goodwood is one of the most eagerly anticipated horseracing festivals of the social season.

In 1906 King Edward VII set the tone for the Goodwood’s most prestigious betting festival when he shunned the traditional morning suit – still de rigeur in the Royal Enclosure at Ascot – in favour of a more informal linen suit and Panama hat.

The King famously called Glorious Goodwood “a garden party with racing tacked on”. Or, as fashion writer Hilary Alexander said in the Daily Telegraph, “Goodwood is dressy, but not as dressed up as Ascot.”

The same could be said for the racing – in fact, Goodwood’s Wikipedia entry rather sniffily claims that “the meeting is very popular, despite not having the quality of horses to justify this popularity alone”.

Glorious Goodwood is the home of two of UK horseracing’s Group One contests, the Sussex Stakes – one of Henrythenavigator’s mile triumphs of 2008 – and the Nassau Stakes for fillies and mares, which also fell to the Johnny Murtagh/Aidan O’Brien partnership in 2008 when it was won by Halfway to Heaven.

Four Group Two races are run at Glorious Goodwood, too – so the racing isn’t of too low a quality (although it hardly compares to Royal Ascot’s seven Group One and seven Group Two races). The big handicap race is the Stewards’ Cup, which nowadays is held on the Saturday of the festival.

Goodwood racecourse’s proximity to the South Coast of England, in beautiful Sussex countryside, puts it in easy reach of London, and the festival’s position in late July and early August frequently blesses it with good weather. It’s therefore perhaps inevitable that Glorious Goodwood is known more for its socialising than its racing.

Linen suits and Panama hats are still the derner cri for men, while women aren’t restricted by the same stringent dress code that rules Ascot.

Hilary Alexander advises “tea-dresses, printed silk shifts, retro style halter-neck dresses with full skirts and floral patterned drop-waists…. Whatever style of dress you choose, make sure that it looks right for the daytime.

“You can bare shoulders - but don't go as far as Zara Phillips did … when she wore a tight-fitting boob-tube; have a shrug or pashmina handy in case the temperature drops, and slip a little brolly in your bag…. The crowning glory of your outfit may well be a hat.”

And she cautions, “Goodwood is not a cocktail party, a dinner dance or a bop in a bar with a trendy DJ.” Well, no – it’s a garden party.

But at least it’s got some horseracing tacked on.


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