The South Downs cover 260 sq miles from Hampshire’s Itchen Valley to Eastbourne in East Sussex. Nestled near the southernmost point is Goodwood racecourse, which claims to be the most beautiful track in the world — and you can certainly see why. The downs are stunning, and from the top of the stands you can look out for miles.
The course — part of the Goodwood estate — is owned by Charles Gordon-Lennox, the current Lord March and future 11th Duke of Richmond, who lives just a few hundred metres away in Goodwood House. His true passion is, admittedly, cars. He is president of the British Automobile Racing Club, and in 1998 reopened the Goodwood Motor Circuit, which had closed in 1966. The Festival of Speed and the Goodwood Revival might eclipse the horses somewhat, but horse-racing here is still a class act.
This year, the site will host 19 days of racing. The jewel in its crown, however, is Glorious Goodwood — now officially the Qatar Goodwood Festival. When the Qatari deal was first announced, it’s safe to say that not everyone thought it was a good idea. But Goodwood has managed to retain a special charm, and the Qatari sponsorship means that the prize funds for the key races have been boosted — attracting some of the best horses, trainers and jockeys in the world.
After breaking his shoulder a month ago, Frankie Dettori has said that he’ll be keeping his riding to a minimum in the build-up to Goodwood so as to be in the finest possible fettle — or as he puts it: ‘I want to be riding at Goodwood in every race.’