Goodwood Festival: The Race of Kings

Glorious Goodwood — officially the Qatar Goodwood Festival, one of the highlights of the British flat racing calendar, takes place this year over five unmissable days, from the 27th to the 31st of July in picturesque Chichester.

With 14 hotly anticipated races from the King George Stakes five-furlong sprint to the two-mile five furlong staying race of the Goodwood Cup and everything in between, it’s an opportunity for the biggest names in the country to show what they’re made of.

History of Goodwood Racecourse

Racing at Goodwood began in 1801 when the 3rd Duke of Richmond laid out a course in the grounds of the Goodwood Estate known as “The Harroway”.

Himself, a colonel in the Sussex militia felt an obligation when the permission for the officers to race at nearby Petworth Park was rescinded by the Earl of Egremont.

The inaugural run of the Goodwood Cup occurred in 1812 over a three-mile course. Over the subsequent three decades, the Molecomb Stakes, the Stewards’ Cup (the now handicap highlight of the final day of the modern Qatar Goodwood Festival) and the Nassau Stakes all came into existence.

Popularity and numbers steadily increased over the years reaching a peak of 55,000 in attendance in 1953, 21,000 of which were on the slopes of the makeshift grandstand of The Trundle (an iron age hill fort with views of the entire track).

Betting on Prior Experience

The track is one of the most unique and challenging in the UK with sharp turns and deceptive undulations.

Because of this, horse racing odds tend to favour those with prior experience at the venue, or agile runners that have already demonstrated they can thrive in the unique conditions.

The sprints are some of the swiftest in the country due to the final three furlongs being all downhill. Shorter races can be won or lost in the first few strides if horses do not come out the gates well.

There’s a slight bias towards the low draws having an easier run out from the stalls across all length races.

The distances of the most renowned races are named as follows:
Stewards’ Cup Course: six furlongs
Craven Course: one mile two furlongs
Gratwicke Course: one mile four furlongs
Bentinck Course: one mile six furlongs
Cup Course: two miles five furlongs

Al Shaqab Goodwood Cup – Tuesday 27th July 2021

The eponymously named Goodwood Cup is a Group 1, 2-miler open to horses aged three years and older and is the highlight of the first day of the festival.

The seven-year-old sensation, Stradivarius is the name on everyone’s lips. Along with Battaash, his record at the meet is unrivalled having successfully brought home a win on the past four consecutive years, the last two of which ridden by jockey Frankie Dettori.

Santiago, who narrowly missed out to Stradivarius by one length last year, despite a 15lb advantage, will be looking to redress that on this occasion.

Subjectivist is also in fine form, having won both of his two starts at this distance and one of the two appearances at Goodwood.

Qatar Sussex Stakes – Wednesday 28th July 2021

The Group 1 highlight of the second day is run over 1 mile and favours horses with a good turn of foot.

Jim Crowley won atop Mohaather last year but we haven’t seen a dominant force since Frankel ten years ago.

The bookmakers are backing Poetic Flare and Palace Pier, but the race is wide open and seasoned vet Duke of Hazzard is also in with a chance.

King George Qatar Stakes – Friday 30th July 2021

The highlight of day four of the festival, this group 2 five-furlong race is open to horses three years and older. Dragon Symbol looks promising at this distance as does the untested at Goodwood, Rohaan.

Supremacy might be worth an outside look having won his only appearance at the course in the similarly distanced Richmond Stakes, last year—but will he cope with the step up to the three-year-old clique?

However, all eyes are on the record-breaking, ‘fastest horse in Britain’, Charles Hills’ Battaash to make it a fifth successive win. He’s much better suited here than at Ascot where he has his doubters.

Will he and rider Jim Crowley go on to claim the double at the Nunthorpe Stakes at York in August as they did in 2019?

Unibet Stewards Cup – Saturday 31st July 2021

The Stewards Cup takes centre stage on the final day of the festival. Loschong, Dancing Star and 2019’s victor Khaadem, are previous winners of the six-furlong handicap race.

Chil Chil has been causing a stir with odds shortening for both the Stewards Cup and the July Cup since her Chipchase Stakes win in Newcastle.

Qatar Nassau Stakes – Saturday 31st July 2021

The Nassau Stakes completes Saturday’s doubleheader at the festival. Three years and older fillies and mares compete over the 1 mile 1 furlong course.

Both Love and Audarya are among the 29 entrants for this year’s race and could recreate their epic Royal Ascot clash.