Qatar Goodwood Festival

30 July 2024 to 2 August 2024 Goodwood Racecourse,

A lively horse race unfolds on a green track set against scenic rolling hills under a blue sky. Jockeys in colorful uniforms ride closely packed horses, while spectators in summer attire watch intently from behind a white fence.

The historic festival beckons another year of exhilarating racing, top-tier socialising, and an opportunity to flex your best threads.

One of the inarguable highlights of the British flat racing season, this summer’s Qatar Goodwood Festival, known as ‘Glorious Goodwood’ by patrons, has long-been acclaimed for attracting the greatest equine talents from the UK and the world over.

Beyond a world-class racing event, Goodwood is secondly one of the biggest social events on the calendar, offering spectators the grand opportunity to dress lavishly in all their resplendent finery.

Held over five days, let’s see what this years Qatar Goodwood has to offer:

Goodwood Cup Day – Tuesday 30th July

Four women are posing outdoors in front of a yellow flag with an emblem. Three wear elegant and colorful ball gowns in black, purple, silver, and blue, while the fourth wears a casual outfit with a corset and black long-sleeve top. Blurry people and a bench are in the background.

Day one begins with the historic Al Shaqab Goodwood Cup, established back in 1808, since attracting racers from all over to test their luck at long-distance racing.

One of Britain’s premier events for stayers – horses that specialise in racing over long-distance – the Al Shaqab Goodwood Cup forms the second leg of the Stayer’s Winners Crown, with the Gold Cup held prior and the Doncaster Cup held lastly.

But it’s not just racer’s that compete, as fashionista’s may contend for the Goodwood Talent in Fashion cup, and, after the racing’s conclusion, the annual cricket match between Lord March’s Racing XI and the Lord’s Taveners will take place in front of Goodwood House, seeing off an exciting first day of action.

Qatar Sussex Stakes Day – Wednesday 31st July

A jockey in red and blue checkered silks sits on a horse, smiling, while a handler in front leads the horse. People are gathered around, some in suits and dresses. Trees and a racetrack backdrop are visible. The atmosphere appears celebratory.
Image via Worldpool

Known as Goodwood’s race of champions, the Qatar Sussex Stakes was once historically overshadowed by the Goodwood Cup and the Stewards’ Cup (and a dappled history including 14 races ending in walkovers), but now, in its modified form, is undoubtedly the most prestigious race at Glorious Goodwood.

Held over a mile, the historic race often features a clash between Classic winners from England, France, and Ireland as they compete against top older horses for the first time. For reasons more than one, this is considered the main racing event of the festival. But, as we know, there is much more to Glorious Goodwood than the racing.

Ladies’ Day – Thursday 1st August

A group of five women stands outdoors, smiling and posing for the camera at a social event. They are wearing vibrant dresses in yellow, pink, red, yellow, and rainbow stripes, with matching fascinators and holding small clutches. Trees and a fence are in the background.
Image via The Sun

The women-centric third day of Qatar Goodwood falls directly in the middle of the festival, featuring the Markel Magnolia Cup where twelve female riders compete down Goodwood’s home straight, as well as the prestigious Group 1 Qatar Nassau Stakes, the most significant from a total of eight races throughout the day.

Beyond the sporting, Ladies Day holds a best-dressed competition – with the winner in 2022 winning a holiday to Turkey – and live music throughout the day. Be you fair lady or otherwise, Ladies’ Day marks the social highlight of the festival for all. 

King George Day – Friday 2nd August

Several jockeys ride their horses in a horse race. One jockey in green and white silks is leading on a brown horse, while the others follow closely behind on the turf racetrack. A crowd of spectators watches the event from behind white railings and tents.
Image via Equos

After the dizzy heights of Ladies’ Day, the Best Dressed is expanded to include a men’s category, where the very best men can don their merry dress.

King George Day, founded on 1911 to commemorate the coronation of George V, features Group 2 King George Qatar Stakes, where the top sprinters internationally go into battle.

The prime day for speed-lovers, the event was made famous in recent years by Battaash, a now-retired, unpredictably and impossibly fast gelding who in 2020 ran unbeaten in three starts, winning King Georges an impressive four years in a row.

In addition, the Coral Golden Mile and the Group 3 Bonhams Thoroughbred Stakes renders King George Day an exhilarating opening to the long weekend.

Stewards’ Cup Day – Saturday 3 August

Four jockeys in colorful racing silks ride their horses at full speed on a grassy racecourse. The jockey in the front wears a brown helmet and gray outfit, leading ahead of the others. Trees and a large screen are seen in the background.
Image via The Daily Telegraph

As the weekend of racing excitement draws to a close, the Steward’s Cup Day brings the emphasis more toward socialising; if you were to pick a day for families and groups of friends, this would be the day.

The main event of the day – the Coral Stewards’ Cup, is the fourth oldest race at the festival, with 28 runners racing a distance of six furlongs (approximately a mile).

A notoriously tough race, only two trainers have managed to win the cup on four occasions, and none since the First World War. The final day of Qatar Goodwood blends relaxed socialising with the action-packed Steward’s Cup race.

As for hospitality, there are three options: the members-only Richmond Enclosure that provides the best views of the Racecourse, the Gordon Enclosure which offers a relaxed yet vibrant atmosphere for spectating and socialising, and the family-oriented Lennox Enclosure which boasts its own children’s playground and grassy picnic spots.

Earl’s Lawn forms the central hub of raceday entertainment, with 10 DJ’s playing over the 5 days, and 10 street vendors selling their edible wares, and, of course, a gin bar, provided by Hendricks. 

A jockey is leaping off a horse in celebration under a bright, sunny sky. The event appears to be a horse race, as there are spectators and photographers capturing the moment. The scene is filled with excitement, with people cheering and clapping in the background.

One of the summers great highlights – for racing or otherwise – Qatar Goodwood Festival promises another packed year of excitement, relaxation, and socialising in the sun. Come on down in your Sunday best to experience the sport-social event of the year!