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Official Review by Jeremy Inson, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
Goodwood Racecourse has played host to the Sport of Kings for over 200 years, ever since 1802 when the Duke of Richmond set it up as a flat racing venue for local military offices from the nearby Sussex Militia, of which he was a Colonel.
Since then it has grown into one of the most popular and picturesque racecourses in the UK. It is set in 12,000 acres of the current Duke of Richmond’s estate and among the rolling hills of the Sussex Downs, a designated area of natural beauty an hour and a half south of London.
The highlight of the course’s calendar is the Glorious Goodwood festival that takes place over five days over the height of summer and which features ladies and gents dressed in their finest enjoying the racing.
It is part of the classic English Summer Season of events that also features Wimbledon Tennis, the Henley Rowing Regatta and Cowes Weeks Sailing and was once described by King Edward VII as “a garden party with racing tacked on.”
Racing begins on the first weekend of May through to early October and along with Glorious Goodwood features three consecutive Friday night race nights in June and a full card of races over the August three-day weekend.
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There is a good variety of food and drink on offer at Goodwood and most of it reasonably priced. Fish and chips, steak sandwiches, hot dogs and bacon baps will all come in under £10 ($15), with fries coming in at around £3 ($5).
For something to wash the food down, beer, wine and cider cost about £5 ($7.50) per bottle or glass. As it is the racing most likely to push the boat out and enjoy a bottle of champagne, that comes in at about £25 ($38). Alternatively Pimms, the greatest British summer tipple, costs the same for a jug that will serve about five-six glasses worth.
There are three restaurants at the course which serve three course meals, plenty of local wine and provide unrivalled views of the course.
The first is the Italian-themed Sussex Bistro, where places cost £72-£114 ($110-$175), next comes the red meat heavy Horsewalk Restaurant, where a place costs £98 ($150) and finally is the Double Trigger Restaurant with places going for £124 ($190) per person.
One thing to note is that alcohol cannot be taken trackside.
Away from the course is Chichester, the nearest town, where there are plenty of eating and drinking establishments. Keep an eye out for Italian chain Zizzi which provides great food to help soak up much of the alcohol from earlier in the day.
Sun, alcohol, horse racing and a bit of a flutter produces a heady mix, especially if it is a warm summer's day.
Out by the parade ring and food and drinks stands there is the slow hubbub as the build-up to the next race gathers pace.
It continues to build as the heaving throng goes through to track-side and places a bet. As they watch the race unfold, the atmosphere is through the roof with screams, cheering and jubilation if you backed a winner or commiserations if your nag brought up the rear.
From there things quickly calm down, unless you're running to claim your winnings and the whole cycle begins anew.
The course itself couldn't be lovelier, set as it is among a huge English estate. Then there are the Sussex Downs, a designated area of natural beauty that stretches from just to the south of London to the English Channel and on any day, but particularly a sunny one, provide plenty of opportunities to stretch the legs.
Chichester is the nearest town that most people will arrive in and that too is a pleasant small town with plenty of drinking and dining establishments. The town dates back to Roman times and was an important centre for the Anglo-Saxons.
At its heart is a fabulous cathedral that is well worth a visit, while the south coast and its beaches is a short trip in either the car or by train.
Like all the best race meetings, the crowd at Goodwood is a mix across the social spectrum and thankfully without some of the snobbery that can be found at other English racecourses over the year.
That said, the alcohol ban trackside hints that there well may have been some booze-related incidents in the past, something that is believable considering that this correspondent witnessed men and women being thrown out of pubs on returning to Chichester once the meeting was over.
Still, at the course itself there is a good atmosphere with many friendly and knowledgeable race fans nearby to give pointers on which horse is worth a flutter.
Most fans will catch the train to Chichester either from London Waterloo or along the south coast. From there shuttle buses are available to transport fans to the course for £7 ($10) return. Taxis and minicabs are a touch steeper at around £25 ($38) one way.
There is parking available, but one is reserved for members and one takes spectators into the picnic area and costs £45 ($69). There are cheaper options with one costing £8 ($12) and the other two free and only a short walk to the course. There is disabled parking available, which is free.
Tickets are available for the four different areas of the course. The Richmond enclose overlooks the finish line, but during Glorious Goodwood is only available to members.
Next down is the Gordon's Enclosure, where tickets cost £42 ($64) or £37 ($56) for concessions and senior citizens. Finally there is the Lennox Enclosure where tickets cost £19 ($29) or £14 ($21) for concessions and senior citizens.
There is a sliding scale of what a ticket for each enclosure entails, but all three provide good vantage points of the action.
A day out at Goodwood is indeed glorious and a fun way to spend a day.
Two things help make it so. One is the weather, which in the English summertime is as unpredictable as ever. If the sun is out though it truly makes the day.
The second is success at the bookies. Punters have no shortage of options of where to enjoy a flutter, but for those with minimal knowledge of racing it is best to start small and enjoy the marginal victories, rather than go for broke and regret it later.
As well as Glorious Goodwood, the town hosts two other huge summer festivals; the Festival of Speed and Goodwood Revival.
The former does exactly what it says and is a festival of how fast women and men can push vehicles on two wheels or four. It has attracted some stellar names in the past, including Moto GP stars Valentino Rossi and Casey Stoner for the 2016 event.
The other is the Goodwood Revival which is a more genteel affair, with a celebration of classic motorcars and bikes from down the years.
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