For two centuries, the cream of high society has flocked to Sussex Downs to celebrate a quintessentially English affair - the end of the summer social season. This horse racing festival in Sussex bookends a period featuring prestigious society events such as Chelsea Flower Week, the Henley rowing regatta and the Wimbledon tennis championships. It has been a fixture on the list since early in the 20th century when the Prince of Wales first declared that racing week at Goodwood was 'a garden party with racing tacked on'. Edward VII – as he later became – set the social tone to such an extent that he was able to single-handedly establish the more relaxed sartorial code that distinguishes Glorious Goodwood, adopting a lounge suit and Panama hat rather than the tailcoat and topper that remain de rigueur at Ascot.
With five days of thrilling action set against the magnificent backdrop of the rolling Sussex countryside, Qatar Goodwood Festival – popularly known as 'Glorious Goodwood' – is the sporting and social highlight of the flat-racing season. Now, Goodwood Racecourse has announced that the Qatar Goodwood Cup has been granted Group 1 status which is a huge boost to the circuit and means that this race is now the only Group 1 race of two miles in the UK.
It has the history, the aristocratic connections, a beautiful English setting and the stylish spectators which means that people are not only watching the sport but watching each other and that is one of the key things about a season event.
Standing at the top of Trundle Hill near Chichester and before you lies a slice of sporting heaven. Framed by the distant Channel and closer woodlands, the curves of Goodwood racecourse follow the undulations of the Downs on to the finishing straight flanked by the bright white pavilions of the grandstand.
All of which explains why the racing week at Glorious Goodwood has been an essential fixture on the British calendar for more than a century and, with the announcement of the prestigious upgrade to the Goodwood Cup, will continue to be for the foreseeable future....