Ahead of the Qatar Goodwood Festival, Kevin Blake tells us about the picturesque and unique Goodwood track that will play host to five days of top class Flat racing...
"Goodwood can very much be considered a specialist track and horses that have performed well there in the past can be marked up when they return there."
Glorious Goodwood is one of the most iconic race meetings in all of British racing. With strong claims to be one of the most scenic settings for a racecourse anywhere in the world, Goodwood's racing year revolves around the Qatar Goodwood Festival which is staged over five days in late-July/early-August.
The meeting plays host to an array of top-class action, with the Sussex Stakes, Goodwood Cup and Nassau Stakes being the three Group 1 races run at the meeting. As well as that, there are five Group 2 races, five Group 3 races and one of the biggest handicap races of the year in the shape of the Stewards' Cup. It regularly plays host to some of the most significant action of the summer and has become a major focus point in the British Flat racing calendar.
A specialist track in every sense
Goodwood as a racecourse can only be categorised as a quirky, unorthodox track. The looping, switchback configuration of the course used for the races beyond six furlongs makes it one of the most challenging tracks to ride, with traffic problems often being a significant factor in races.
Even the straight track isn't particularly orthodox, with much of it being downhill and putting the emphasis on speed. For those reasons, it can very much be considered a specialist track and horses that have performed well there in the past can be marked up when they return there.
It isn't just a specialist track for horses either, as paying attention to the jockeys and trainers who have fared particularly well or poorly around Goodwood can be significant information to have to hand throughout Glorious Goodwood.
As well as being a much-loved host of top-class horse racing, Glorious Goodwood is also a significant date in the British social and fashion calendar. Panama hats are considered an essential accessory for male racegoers, though they don't suit everyone...