Goodwood Racecourse


A history stretching over two hundred years. From the first private race meeting for local army officers arranged by the third Duke of Richmond in 1801, to the 19 days of racing that are held each year, Goodwood has always been inexorably linked with horseracing.

The Sport of Kings

Goodwood is synonymous with racing: the first public race meeting took place here in 1802, the year after the third Duke of Richmond first held a private race meeting for the officers of the Sussex Militia and members of the Goodwood Hunt. Up until 1801, the officers had held their annual races in nearby Petworth Park, courtesy of the Earl of Egremont, but the invitation was withdrawn in 1801. The Duke of Richmond came to the rescue, allowing the officers to race on “The Harroway”, a narrow ridge on top of the South Downs. The family’s links to horseracing go back even further to the seventeenth century: Charles II, father of the first Duke of Richmond, rode in races himself, even setting out rules and adjudicating over disputes.

And They're Off

The private meeting in 1801 was so successful that it was decided to hold a public race meeting the following year, held over three days. A head-to-head race was the highlight: Rebel, owned by the Prince Regent (later King George IV) beat Cedar, owned by the Duke of Richmond, for 100 guineas. At this time, races were a test of stamina as horses might have to run three two-mile heats, with a prize for the horse who won two out of three heats.

The Steward's Cup - 1802

Re-live the highlights of yesteryear at Goodwood Racecourse through this superb, unseen footage. Synonymous with racing: the first public race meeting took place in 1802 and, through the nineteenth century, ‘Glorious Goodwood,’ as the press named it, became a highlight of the summer season. Featuring black and white edits from one of the oldest handicap races in the British flat-race calendar, the six-furlong Steward’s Cup evidently remains as competitive as ever to this day.

Growing Popularity

Through the nineteenth century, ‘Glorious Goodwood’, as the press named it, became a highlight of the summer season. King Edward VII (who came almost every year) famously dubbed it “a garden party with racing tacked on”. Horseracing was suspended during the First and Second World Wars, but Goodwood’s popularity began to grow again during the second half of the twentieth century. When Goodwood’s record one-day crowd of 55,000 turned up in 1953, well over a third were to be found up on the Trundle (pictured above). Members of the public can still enjoy free, grandstand views of Goodwood racecourse from its north-east slopes. Today, the racecourse welcomes over 100,000 racegoers during the annual Qatar Goodwood Festival. Many more come to the other fixtures in the spring and summer.

An Equestrian Family

In addition to introducing horseracing at Goodwood, the third Duke of Richmond also commissioned the celebrated architect, Sir William Chambers, to design a magnificent stable block, which is one of the grandest in the country and still in use today. The fifth Duke of Richmond was particularly instrumental in drawing up the rules of horseracing and was a successful racehorse owner himself. During the twentieth century, Goodwood also hosted horse trials, carriage driving championships and for twenty-one years, international dressage.

Leviathan of the Turf

Lord George Bentinck, also known as the ‘Leviathan of the Turf’ and The Fifth Duke of Richmond were senior stewards of the Jockey Club and together they made many innovations, putting Goodwood at the leading edge of racing and forming the basis of race organisation as it is known today. Bentinck commissioned the first ever horsebox to take his horse, Elis, from Goodwood to Doncaster for the 1836 St. Leger. As horses were normally walked between racecourses, Elis arrived fresh and won easily, netting his owner the prize and £12,000 from a bet.
Goodwood Racecourse

Greatest Moments



Goodwood Cup

The Goodwood Cup was first run in 1808 and is one of the leading staying races in the country. Double Trigger famously won the race three times in the 1990s, making the trip from his native Yorkshire. Arguably the most famous horse to race at Goodwood was Kincsem, a Hungarian racehorse – who won the Goodwood Cup in 1878. Kincsem was unbeaten in a staggering 54 races.



Sussex Stakes

The feature race at Goodwood is the Sussex Stakes – a Group 1 race for milers. The best milers in the world have contested this race over the years, including Brigadier Gerard in 1971, who was on his way to becoming the champion racehorse of his generation. The mighty Frankel, officially the highest-rated horse in the history of the turf, is the only horse to have won the race twice: in 2011 and 2012.



Nassau Stakes

Possibly the greatest race in the modern history of Goodwood was the Nassau Stakes in 2006. This is Goodwood’s third Group 1 race, when the fillies take centre stage. On this occasion, The Earl of Derby’s Ouija Board, one of the superstars of international racing, battled with Alexandra Goldrun – who had won the previous year’s Nassau Stakes. The two fillies fought it out all the way down the Goodwood straight with Ouija Board eventually winning in the closest of photo finishes.

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