The five-day Qatar Goodwood Festival starts today with an action-packed card and ends on Saturday 1st August when spectators will be allowed to return to racing for the very first time since March.
Selected as a pilot event for the return of crowds, there will be a limit of 5,000 compared to the normal 25,000 crowd expected on the last day of the meeting, however it marks a very important day for not only racing, but the entire sporting industry.
Day One, Tuesday 28 July, and the undoubted highlight is the newest Group 1 race the Qatar Goodwood Cup worth £500,000, a 2-mile flat race. This, the first of three Group One races, will be headlined by Stradivarius ridden by Frankie Dettori. Fresh from a third Gold Cup win at Ascot, Stradivarius bids for a fourth straight victory and faces possibly his biggest challenge yet against Irish Derby winner Santiago. In a bid to make history, Dettori is aiming for a record fourth Goodwood Cup with the horse trained by John Gosden.
Day 2, Wednesday 29 July, and today’s card opens with the popular Goodwood Handicap but the feature race sees the best milers competing in the feature race the Qatar Sussex Stakes with prize money of £1 million attracting a world class field.
This will see a clash of the English and Irish Guineas winners, Kameko and Siskin who will face five other rivals including Mohaather and San Donato, as well as the O’Brien trained trio of Circus Maximus, Wichita and Vatican City.
Day 3, Thursday 30 July, traditionally Ladies Day and the feature race is the Qatar Nassau Stakes, a 1 mile, 1 furlong and 197 yards flat race. A long race, only the strongest filly will triumph is this competitive field, and the Japanese challenger Deirdre is returning to defend her title this year.
Day 4, Friday 31 July, and with no Group One race on the card punters still have four pattern races to consider. Charlie Hill-trained Battash is odds-on favourite in the most lucrative race, King George Stakes, after his maiden but convincing Royal Ascot success. The six-year-old will be looking for a 12th win in 22 starts, although Prix de l’Abbaye winner Glass Slippers is among the opposition.
The Friday feature race is the Unibet Golden Mile Handicap, a 1 mile flat race.
And so, on Day 5, Saturday 1st August spectators will return to Goodwood. While last year the final day welcomed 100,000 spectators last year, it will host a total of 5,000 this time – in eight mini-enclosures. The course will only be at 20 percent of capacity but it is a historic move forward in the race against Covid-19.
The fifth and final day of Glorious Goodwood sees the Qatar Stewards Cup Handicap take centre stage. This is the biggest betting race of the week, and sees the finest sprinters run over six furlongs to get to the £250,000 prize. Recent Newbury winner Nahaar is one of the favourites this year.
Adam Waterworth, Sport Managing Director at the Goodwood Estate, said: “We are delighted that the Qatar Goodwood Festival has been selected as a pilot event for the return of crowds.
“The Goodwood team will ensure the racecourse adheres to Government guidelines on social distancing and hygiene. We hope that this will be the next step in ensuring crowds for future sporting events.
“It is fantastic to offer our annual members them the opportunity to witness racing on the Downs again as a thank you for their support” he concluded.