Goodwood Racecourse Hotels

Goodwood Racecourse
Chris Thomas-Atkin / geograph.org.uk

Racegoers have been flocking to the West Sussex venue of Goodwood Racecourse for over two hundred years now, attracted not only by the spectacular setting amidst the picturesque Sussex Downs, but also by the high quality of the racing on offer.

Home to one of the most famous festivals in the sport, in the shape of the summertime highlight of the Goodwood Festival – Glorious Goodwood to the masses, or the Qatar Goodwood Festival for sponsorship purposes – this beautiful track looks set to remain popular with racing fans for some time to come. Fancy a visit?

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Hotels

One of the more rurally located racecourses in the UK, Goodwood does not benefit from an abundance of accommodation providers in the immediate vicinity of the track. There are however a couple of options lying relatively close by, with further choices to be found in the popular tourist destination of the South Downs and the nearby urban hub (relatively speaking at least) of Chichester.

Closest to the Course

For those looking to be as close as possible to the track, there a few options available within a 5 to 7 minute drive to the racetrack, including a number of privately owned bed and breakfasts. Whilst you may be tempted to try to walk to the course, the roads are quite narrow and this would not necessarily be safe for pedestrians with cars speeding by to get to the racecourse.

Woodstock Suites Goodwood
Woodstock Suites
5 min drive

Woodstock Suites is the closest option you'll find to Goodwood being just a 5-minute drive away. The accommodation includes little apartments with each unit containing a sofa, seating area, TV, kitchenette with dining area and private bathroom. Choose from one-bed, two-bed or studio apartments.

The Goodwood Hotel
The Goodwood Hotel
7 min drive

Located on a 12,000 acre estate with two golf courses, a health club and restaurants, the Goodwood Hotel is a luxury option for punters making their way to the races, as it's only a 7-minute car journey to the racecourse. The restaurants include a more informal brasserie, as well as fine dining options. Additionally, the leisure centre includes an indoor pool, hot tub, steam room, sauna and gym.

West Dean College Goodwood
West Dean College
7 min drive

This one is rather unusual in that the accommodation is located within a working college/university, which is located on a 6,350-acre estate. Rooms do not have televisions or phones, however, Wi-Fi is available. Breakfast is served in the college dining room amongst the students who attend classes on campus. Guests will have access to the landscaped gardens and there is an outdoor heated swimming pool in the summer. Best of all, it's close to Goodwood Racecourse!

Head Down in the Downs

Lying just to the north of Goodwood racecourse is the UK’s newest national park. Covering over 1,600 square kilometres, the South Downs National Park offers an ideal opportunity to balance the excitement of the racecourse with the relaxation of the beautiful British countryside. Unsurprisingly given the large number of visitors, the area in and around the park offers an array of accommodation options just around a 15-minute journey to the racecourse by car.

The Blue Bell Goodwood
The Blue Bell
9 min drive

The Blue Bell is a pub hotel located in Midhurst, which is just a 9-minute drive to Goodwood Racecourse. There is, of course, a bar and restaurant, and the bar also acts as a café and serves hot beverages. Additionally, you'll find a darts board and a terrace/beer garden with barbecue facilities.

The Cricketers Arms Goodwood
The Cricketers Arms
12 min drive

The Cricketer in Duncton near Petworth is another option in the South Downs National Park that is just a 12-minute drive to Glorious Goodwood. The pub hotel has a restaurant that serves local produce with traditional pub fare, as well as a bar. Please note that the pub is closed on Mondays, however, breakfast is still available that day for hotel guests.

The White Horse Inn South Downs National Park Goodwood
The White Horse Inn
18 min drive

Less than 20 minutes' drive to the racecourse, the White Horse Inn in Pulborough offers a restaurant and bar, along with a terrace. This 15th century pub hotel offers a warming fireplace, along with traditional pub food, such as fish and chips and pies, along with a separate pizza menu.

Chichester – The Choice for a City Stay

The serenity of the countryside isn’t for everyone, and no doubt many racegoers would prefer the hustle and bustle of a city for their overnight base. However, cities in West Sussex aren’t exactly plentiful. There is in fact just the one, and it comes in the shape of the cathedral city of Chichester. Only small as cities go, Chichester nevertheless boasts a good range of accommodation options, plenty of historical nooks and crannies to explore, and over 40 watering holes, including the highly rated Bar 54, The Hole In The Wall and Hornet Alehouse.

East Walls Hotel Chichester
East Walls Hotel
15 min drive

Located 15-minutes drive from Goodwood Racecourse, the East Walls Hotel in the centre of Chichester has a bar and terrace for guests to enjoy. Additionally, the hotel serves breakfast each morning, including a continental and cooked breakfast option.

Chichester Inn
Chichester Inn
14 min drive

The Chichester Inn is a pub hotel that features a restaurant and bar and is less than 15-minutes driving from Goodwood Racecourse. There is a pool table in the pub and each room has a fridge. The pub food offered is traditional, including fish and chips, burgers, etc. and they often show live sports games or feature live music.

Purchases Restaurant & Accommodation Chichester
Purchases Restaurant & Accommodation
14 min drive

Purchases is less than 15-minutes driving to Goodwood Racecourse and is located in the heart of Chichester. There is a bar, restaurant, and garden/terrace. There is a continental breakfast buffet each morning and the restaurant features seasonal menus made with local produce.

About the Racecourse

Goodwood Racecourse grandstand
Ian Capper / geograph.org.uk

Goodwood stages a total of 19 race days over the course of its season which runs from late April to early October. Featuring a nice mix of single and multi-day events, the fixture list at the Sussex venue is of course lit up by the five-day extravaganza that is the Qatar Goodwood festival.

A popular venue through the campaign, it is at this late July/early August showpiece that the crowds hit their peak, with over 100,000 racegoers thronging the stands over the course of the five days. A Group 1 course in terms of the action on the track, racegoers can similarly expect the highest standards when it comes to the facilities on offer, at what is one of the UK’s flagship racing venues.

Whilst at the races, the serene location can quite easily fool you into thinking you are in the middle of nowhere. However – undoubtedly rural as the location is – Goodwood Racecourse is in fact only around 60 south of London, and 30 miles away from Brighton. Given that proximity to the capital, the train station at the nearby city of Chichester is well serviced by the southern rail lines, with regular services from both Victoria and Waterloo.

A bus shuttle service then runs from Chichester train station on race days, or a taxi will have you at the course in a round 10 minutes. Alternatively, the number 900 bus service will take you to the track, with tickets priced at around £5.

For those driving to the course, Chichester can be reached via the A3 from the north, the A27 from the east and west, and the A259 from the south. For those using Sat Nav the post code for the track is PO18 0PS, but once at Chichester the best advice is to follow the very clear signposting to the course.

Once at the track there are a range of car parks located around the site, some of which are entirely free to use, with others requiring a fee of around £5 for the day. For those staying within Chichester numerous parking sites can be found throughout the city, including the Southern Chichester Station Car Park and the centrally located 24-hour Little London Car Park.

The Course

One of the more unique tracks in the country, Goodwood is essentially an L-shaped track in which the runners use one of two alternate bends to turn right-handed into the long 5f home straight. An additional loop joining the back straight is used in longer races, whilst a one-furlong spur running into the home straight enables sprint contests of 6f to be staged on a straight course. Featuring pronounced undulations throughout and a very tight turn into the straight, this track is notoriously tricky to ride and one to which not all runners are suited. Bear that in mind when ou are studying the form ahead of your big day out!

In the past a high draw has proven to be an advantage over all distances, and whilst this seems to have levelled out in recent years, it can still pay to be drawn high in the 5f and 6f events, as the runners often congregate towards the far rail.

Dress Code

How you are required to dress at Goodwood depends entirely upon which of the enclosures you will be attending. Do however note that fancy dress and sleeveless tops for men are not permitted anywhere on the course.

Beginning at the most relaxed end of the scale, the family friendly Lennox enclosure has no formal dress code in place. Nevertheless, the majority of racegoers do opt to arrive in relatively smart attire – think shirt and trousers, rather than jeans and t-shirt – for the bigger meetings, and particularly so at the Qatar Goodwood Festival.

Moving on to the Gordon Enclosure and we find two dress codes in place; one which operates at standard fixtures, and another for the flagship Qatar Goodwood Festival. At all fixtures outside of the festival, racegoers are encouraged to dress smartly, with all shorts, trainers and sportswear discouraged. At the Qatar Goodwood Festival itself, gentleman are encouraged to wear a smart jacket and tie, with t-shirts and ripped jeans being added to the prohibited list. And for the ladies, a “dress to impress” stipulation is in place, with most racegoers opting for a smart dress or trouser suit.

And topping the table when it comes to the track’s style stakes is the Richmond Enclosure. Regardless of the meeting, all gentlemen should arrive in a jacket, together with a tie, polo-neck sweater, or cravat, with boys under 18 encouraged to wear a collared shirt. For the ladies, floaty dresses or stylish tops paired with skirt or trousers are recommended. The track does however recommend leaving those stilettos at home, as navigating the uneven ground in such footwear may prove treacherous.

Trainers and jeans of any description are not permitted, but one item of clothing which most certainly is, is the Panama hat – the headgear of choice in the Richmond enclosure, and indeed much of the rest of the course, at the Qatar Goodwood Festival.

The Stands

The most relaxed of the three main enclosures at Goodwood, the Lennox enclosure is also the cheapest, with tickets available for as little as £10 at the smaller meetings, rising to around £20 for the Goodwood Festival itself. Situated alongside the furlong pole, this partially covered area offers trackside viewing, a children’s play area, a big screen to assist with following the action, a selection of outdoor bars and food outlets and of course betting facilities. Whilst much of this enclosure is open to the elements, there is a large grandstand to the rear in which to take cover when necessary.

Moving on from the Lennox Enclosure and in the direction of the winning post, we find the Gordon Enclosure. Affording excellent access to the parade ring, and fine views of the action from both the standing March Grandstand and the seated Sussex Stand, the enclosure’s proximity to the winning post enables racegoers to catch those thrilling Goodwood finishes up close.

During the Goodwood Festival this enclosure is further enlivened by the hugely popular, and rather swanky, “Earl’s Lawn”, featuring live music and a champagne and seafood bar amongst other attractions. Tickets for the Gordon enclosure are priced in the region of £21 for a non-Festival fixture, rising to £40 or more for the big meeting.

And for those seeking the premium Goodwood experience, we have the stylish Richmond Enclosure. The most exclusive area of the track, this section is restricted to members and their guests during the Goodwood Festival – unless you are member yourself, or the guest of one, you won’t get in. For those interested in becoming an annual member – which grants entry to all 19 race days at the track in addition to a host of other benefits – prices are set at £579 for those aged 25 and older, and £195 for 18-24 year olds.

However, away from the big summer festival, the Richmond Enclosure is open to the public, with prices beginning at a very reasonable £29. Providing the best views of the finish line, the opportunity to view the hoses in both the parade and pre-parade rings, as well as access to a selection of restaurants and high-end catering/bar options, this is the section of the track thought to offer the best race-day experience. And for those who like to do a little exploring, a Richmond Enclosure badge also permits access to both the Lennox and Gordon enclosures.

Outside of the main enclosures, Goodwood also offers a fairly unique “Park and Picnic” option at the three-furlong pole. Priced at around £45 for most meetings, these tickets grant racegoers a parking spot by the rail from which to both watch the racing and enjoy a picnic. And for those wishing to stretch their legs, access to the Lennox enclosure for up to four people is also included in the price.

In addition to the above options, the track also offers a range of hospitality packages. For £30-£40, depending upon the enclosure and package specifics, racegoers will receive entry, a complimentary drink and a meal as well. The Sussex Lounge meanwhile caters for groups of 10 and upwards, and offers Gordon Enclosure admission, a complimentary meal, drink and bet, together with exclusive seating, terrace viewing and bar area. Coming in at around £49 per person, this is an understandably popular option for larger parties.

Upcoming Fixtures at Goodwood

Date Time Type Surface
Friday 3rd May 2024 Afternoon Flat Turf
Saturday 4th May 2024 Afternoon Flat Turf
Friday 24th May 2024 Afternoon Flat Turf
Saturday 25th May 2024 Afternoon Flat Turf
Friday 7th June 2024 Evening Flat Turf
Sunday 9th June 2024 Afternoon Flat Turf
Friday 14th June 2024 Evening Flat Turf
Friday 21st June 2024 Evening Flat Turf
Tuesday 30th July 2024 Afternoon Flat Turf
Wednesday 31st July 2024 Afternoon Flat Turf
Thursday 1st August 2024 Afternoon Flat Turf
Friday 2nd August 2024 Afternoon Flat Turf
Saturday 3rd August 2024 Afternoon Flat Turf
Friday 23rd August 2024 Evening Flat Turf
Saturday 24th August 2024 Afternoon Flat Turf
Sunday 25th August 2024 Afternoon Flat Turf
Tuesday 3rd September 2024 Afternoon Flat Turf
Wednesday 25th September 2024 Afternoon Flat Turf
Sunday 13th October 2024 Afternoon Flat Turf

Major Meetings

Goodwood Festival
Dan Taylor-Watt / Flickr.com

When it comes to racing at Goodwood, there is of course one meeting which puts all others in the shade. Whether being referred to by its official title of the Qatar Goodwood Festival, or the more traditional “Glorious Goodwood”, those five days in summer are what really puts this course on the map. It’s not ALL about the big one on the South Downs though, there are after all a further 14 race days on offer outside of the flagship fixture each year, including cracking multi-day affairs in spring and late summer.

Qatar Goodwood Festival

One of the undoubted sporting highlights of the summer months and, for many, right up there with the earlier five-day offering from Royal Ascot, this Tuesday to Saturday feast of racing excellence takes place at the tail end of July, moving into early August depending upon the calendar. A social event as much as sporting occasion, this Panama hat-laden celebration is one of the first dates in the diary of racing fans.

Top notch in terms of race day atmosphere, the action on the track isn’t too bad either, with no fewer than 13 Group class contests held over the five days, including the track’s only Group 1 events of the Goodwood Cup, Nassau Stakes and Sussex Stakes. Throw in the titanic betting heat of Saturday’s Stewards Cup, and it is no wonder this is one of the best attended race meetings of the season – be sure to book early!

May Festival

Much like the majority of the British flat courses, Goodwood opens its doors in late April each year. And whilst the track’s two-day curtain raiser is always a well-attended affair, just pipping it in the popularity stakes is this Friday-Saturday meeting in late May. With the sun regularly shining on Sussex at this time of year, there’s a relaxed garden party atmosphere to proceedings, whilst the action on the track is headlined by the Listed Cocked Hat Stakes – often contested by runners who go on to line up in the Derby.

August Meeting

Coming shortly before the seasonal finale in September, we have what is Goodwood’s most varied meeting. Taking place over the August Bank Holiday weekend, this three-day fixture features a racing and live music double bill on the Friday evening, followed by a hugely popular Saturday card headlined by the Group 2 Celebration Mile. Sunday then sees the meeting draw to a relaxed conclusion with what is one of the biggest family focussed days of the season at the course. Something for everyone at this fixture!

History

Goodwood in 1895
Goodwood in 1895 (Wikipedia.org)

Racing at Goodwood began all the way back in 1801 when the Duke of Richmond, Charles Lennox, stepped in to provide a venue for the local military to conduct their racing. Housed within the Duke’s vast 12,000 acre estate, this first meeting was confined to the military and local hunt, before being opened to the public for the first time in 1802. Remaining in the hands of the Duke of Richmond to this day, this sporting site now also encompasses the world-famous motor racing circuit.

The Goodwood Festival Is Born

And over the years the popularity of the course and its main meeting has only increased. Many of the track’s most famous races, including the Sussex Stakes and Goodwood Cup were established later in the 19th Century, as were the two contests named in honour of the Duke – the Richmond Stakes and Lennox Stakes. The early 20th century then attracted royal patronage in the shape of King Edward VII who labelled the Goodwood Festival as “a garden party with racing tacked on” and introduced the trend of sporting a linen suit and Panama hat which has lived on to this day.

Racing Firsts

Enjoying a huge surge in attendance in the years following the second World War, this period also saw the track record a couple of notable firsts. In 1947, we saw the first ever BBC radio race commentary from the track, with the first on-course loudspeaker commentary coming later in 1952. 1987 then marked the year in which a certain Frankie Dettori would make the first of what would turn out to be many trips to a British winner’s enclosure – the evergreen Italian breaking his duck aboard Lizzie Hare.

Possibly the most amusing first at the track though came in the late 18th century, with the first ever flag start at a British course. The previous method of waiting for the jockeys to confirm they were ready and then shouting go seemingly not mixing too well with the elderly starter at the track – who turned out not only to be deaf, but also in possession of a pronounced speech impediment! Thankfully things have run a lot more smoothly since at what remains one of Britain’s finest racecourses.