Goodwood Racecourse has a long and illustrious history. From its early days as a flat horseracing course for local officers, as opened by the third Duke of Richmond in 1802, to part of the current Duke of Richmond's son, Lord March's vast Goodwood estate, Goodwood has played host to many a royal over its two centuries. On its second year as a racecourse, the then Prince of Wales' (later George IV) horse Trumpator beat the Duke's horse Cedar. I'm sure the Duke was none too pleased! Side note: just found Trumpator's lineage and pedigree!
Edward VII at Goodwood
Edward VII arriving at Goodwood
And Queen Alexandra doing the same
Contrary to the pictorial evidence of his wife arriving there, Edward VII often attended Goodwood with his mistress Alice Keppel (apparently a rumour abounds that he left an illegitimate daughter in the area...no comment), though it looked a little different in those days.
Goodwood Racecourse in 1912 (a little late)
And now - extra stands, extra railings and extra people!
Edward VII famously described the summer racing meet as a "garden party with racing tacked on". As we all know by now, he loved a good shindig! He was also a huge fan of horses, racing and betting. There is still the King Edward VII Stakes race run at Epsom every year. He owned several champion horses, one of which, Minoru has his own Wikipedia page with some lovely stories, inclusing this one about him winning at Epsom in May 1909, the first time a King (or Queen) had had such a victory.
The victory for the "Royal" colt provoked "the wildest scenes of enthusiasm ever known in England", including a mass rendition of the National Anthem as the King led his horse to the winner's enclosure. Minoru himself was "swallowed up" by a crowd of supporters, several of whom attempted to obtain souvenirs by pulling hairs from his mane and tail, while his owner was informally congratulated with cries of "Good for you old sport!" and "Well done Teddy!". Minoru's victory was the first in the Derby for a reigning British monarch. The King received many congratulatory telegrams, his favourite reportedly being one which arrived from Argentina and read: "Minoru, England. Congratulations from your father– Cyllene."
But despite being a conservative dresser and something of a stickler for traditional dress codes when on official Royal business, King Edward VII actually set a new trend for Goodwood attire. Instead of the morning suits and top hats that were de rigueur at Ascot and Epsom, King Edward started to wear linen suits and panama hats to the more southern meets and caused a fashion sensation that has lasted to this day.
Horse sculpture in the Richmond Enclosure
The Telegraph says, 'According to Debrett's it was his championing of more informal attire in the first few years of the 20th century that granted the hoi polloi licence to wear the same. And according to Christopher Hibbert's biography of Edward, Winston Churchill later assured his mother that it was the King's "sensible example" that meant "everyone wore tweed suits" to Goodwood. As well as tweed, they wore flannel and linen, and on hot days the recently introduced Panama hat, too.'
Even now, the gents' dress code for the Richmond Enclosure at Glorious Goodwood reads:
At all race meetings in the Richmond Enclosure, gentlemen are required to wear jackets and ties, cravats or polo-neck sweaters. For the traditional, linen suits, waistcoats and the archetypal ‘Goodwood’ Panama hat can be worn, as popularised by King Edward VII in the early 20th Century.
I wasn't in the exclusive Richmond Enclosure, but it was still nice to see lots of both linen suits and panama hats everywhere.
And uniforms, which are always allowed!
Anyone know what these uniforms are?
Men aside, it was Ladies' Day at Glorious Goodwood when I attended - the middle of the week but most definitely not an average kind of a day. Apparently, famous ladies' man Tom Cruise* was there awarding prizes, as well as the usual (in this case) minor royalty in the form of Zara Phillips and... the one and only Carol Vorderman. Suffice to say I didn't get to rub shoulders with the elite, although, thinking about it, I should have used my miniature bottle of King's Ginger as a passport in... who could turn me away? Next time!
Being a 'stylish and relaxed occasion', there's no absolute rules for anyone, even ladies. We are encouraged to wear hats, it's not a requirement, but the vast majority do. I absolutely did!
Dress: The Seamstress of Bloomsbury
Hat: Betsy Hatter
Shoes: Swedish Hasbeens
It's not difficult to get a good spot to watch the action. I watched several races, from the stands...
This was the Lily Langtry Stakes, named for his Majesty's most well-known mistress...
I had to get a photo!
I got up close and personal as the riders went out for the final race!
Though King Edward would most likely disapprove of such reserve, we only placed one bet all day, and it was for the final race. One of the horses was called Angelic Upstart and, as my mother writes books about angels, it was only right to place money on that aptly titled horse. One whole pound - each way. So our horse had to come in either first, or in the top three. He was on at 12/1, so it wasn't a particularly safe bet, hence the £1 stake.
Halfway round the course and Angelic Upstart (number 10) wasn't in the top 5. But then!
Ahead by a nose in the final furlong... Angelic upstart only won!!
The largest part of the fun at Goodwood (or any racing) is the excitement building as they come around the final bend, people starting to cheer and shout loudly as it all reaches a crescendo in that final half furlong! And to see your horse actually win... What brilliant fun!
We left a full £13 richer (would have been more but they apparently took the favourite horse out at the last minute so the winnings were adjusted down) and feeling on top of the world. Needed a nip of KG after that.
Lucky mascot or what?
A toast to the King!
Thanks for reading the latest instalments of my King's Ginger adventures. As ever, please do check out the site and find out more about this delightful drink. I may be serving it myself at an event soon... more on this later!
Today's recipe contains champagne to toast Angelic Upstart! The Ginger Royale is dangerously delicious (by which I mean it is very easy to drink a lot of it, take it from me)!
PS * Tom Cruise a ladies man? *cough*