Friday, 24 July 2009

World's Weirdest Racetracks: #4

Of the features that set the freak show that is British racecourses apart from the rest of the world in the "national team" category, this beauty’s got it all: straights, loops, undulations, multiple directions to run in; and the quality races to show off what it's got. But expectations are high at the very top of the WWR Top 10, and while all the effort put in is certainly admirable, Goodwood Racecourse lacks that special touch of extra eccentricity that would push it into the medal ranks.

There is nothing wrong with the quality of racing, which is good on any given raceday, and top-notch during the five days of Glorious Goodwood (starting next Tuesday). The course consists of a six-furlong straight and easily the most unique loop of any track in the world, with chutes, alternative routes and shortcuts all over the place. The 2-mile Goodwood Cup gets an extra point for being run without a starting gate, and starting mid-turn.

Goodwood’s racing history dates back to the year 1800, when the 5th Duke of Richmond allowed members of the Sussex militia to conduct Gentlemen’s races on his premises at Goodwood House (which is actually more than a mile away, but Dukes have a different understanding of the word "backyard"). From 1801 on the public was allowed to attend these races and the track quickly established itself among Southern England’s finest, despite a certain tendency to be covered in fog from the nearby coast on racedays. Ownership of both the estate and racecourse has remained with the Dukes to this day. Over the last decades, it has become one of the more innovative of British racecourses, building a modern grandstand and being one of the first to twin with another club: Oak Tree (the reason for the Goodwood Stakes at OSA and the G3 Oak Tree Stakes during Glorious Goodwood).
WWR Fun For Nuts:
The weirdness of Goodwood Racecourse is in the course layout and details. Comparing the 2 graphics above (which I callously stole from and, respectively), try to figure out the route horses have to take for every distance!

WWR Quiz:
Find out which of the two images is wrong, and why!
(If that's not enough for you, the layout in the Hamilton Park chapter also includes two mistakes, both hinted at in the text).

(Image on top is a Picasa image by John)


  1. I've been studying for the bar exam, and this series has been really the highlight of my study breaks. I'm looking forward to the top three.

  2. Thanks.

    Looking forward to read more on your blog after you passed. Good luck!

  3. Yeah, Goodwood is incredible. Gotta hand it to the Brits. The build racetracks any old "how" they want.