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Glorious Goodwood statistics and trends: Comparing the big races

| 30.07.2023

With August almost upon us, the British Flat racing season is heading to West Sussex for the Qatar Goodwood Festival, also known as Glorious Goodwood.

To mark this highlight of the sporting and social calendars, we have put together a Glorious Goodwood statistics-filled guide to the five-day meeting.

When are the big races?

Glorious Goodwood gets underway on Tuesday August 1 and finishes on Saturday August 5, with a minimum of seven races scheduled on each day.

The Goodwood Cup, Sussex Stakes and Nassau Stakes are the highlights of Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday respectively, with each race being part of the prestigious British Champions Series.

The historic King George Stakes is the main event on Friday, before Coral’s Stewards’ Cup – a wide-open handicap – takes centre stage on Saturday.

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The Sussex Stakes – sometimes referred to as the ‘Duel on the Downs’ – is the richest race of the week, with a cool £1million on offer for the competitors.

All of the main races are open to horses aged three and over, with entries in the Nassau Stakes restricted to fillies and mares.

Tuesday’s Goodwood Cup is the longest of the five major races at two miles, while the five-furlong King George Stakes is the shortest.

We have studied results from each day’s showpiece across the past 20 years to help punters with their betting.

How do favourites perform?

It makes sense to back the favourite in the flagship races, based on recent Glorious Goodwood trends.

The shortest-priced horse triumphed in all three Group Ones in 2022, with Kyprios crossing first in the Goodwood Cup, Baaeed cruising home in the Sussex Stakes and Nashwa doing the business in the Nassau Stakes.

This continued a trend that has seen the bookies pick 33 of the past 60 winners in those races. The Goodwood Cup has proved the most predictable, with 13 favourites emerging victorious, including all of the last five – Stradivarius in consecutive years between 2018 and 2020, Trueshan in 2021 and Kyprios most recently.

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However, the success of favourites has largely reflected small fields in the Goodwood Cup, Sussex Stakes and Nassau Stakes, which have seen an average of nine and a maximum of 15 horses take to the start line since 2003.

Favourites have been less likely to have it all their own way in the King George Stakes and the Stewards’ Cup, with average fields of 13 and 27 competitors respectively.

Last year was a case in point – while the three Group Ones went with pre-race odds, Khaadem won the King George at 8/1 (sixth-favourite) while Commanche Falls went back-to-back in the Stewards’ Cup at 25/1 (14th).

Who has the best record?

Newmarket trainer John Gosden has the best recent record in Goodwood’s premier races, with four victories in the Goodwood Cup, two in the Sussex Stakes and three in the Nassau Stakes.

Among active jockeys, Frankie Dettori leads the way in the Goodwood Cup with four wins – two of which came aboard the Gosden-trained Stradivarius – while Coral ambassador Jim Crowley and William Buick are top with three victories in the Sussex and Nassau Stakes respectively.

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Crowley is also the most successful rider in the Group Two King George Stakes, with four wins in consecutive years between 2017 and 2020 aboard the Charles Hills-trained Battaash. Hills tops the all-time list for wins in the King George, having scored his fifth victory last year with Khaadem.

In the Stewards’ Cup, Michael Dods’ twin victories in 2021 and 2022 with Commanche Falls make him the most successful trainer since 2003 in terms of win percentage. Among jockeys, the retiring Dettori has won on two of his 10 rides in the past two decades, most recently aboard Italian-bred Lancelot du Lac in 2017.

Does age make a difference?

There are some interesting differences in the age of winners across the five premier races from the Glorious Goodwood statistics.

While three-year-olds have been most successful in the Sussex and Nassau Stakes – winning 22 out of 40 races since 2003 – they have been outperformed by more experienced thoroughbreds when it comes to victory percentage.

Two of the six seven-year-olds to take part in the Sussex Stakes since 2003 went on to win, with back-to-back successes in 2017 (Here Comes When) and 2018 (Lightning Spear). In the meantime, four out of 18 five-year-olds to run the Nassau Stakes over the same period were able to triumph, with Lady Bowthorpe the most recent veteran winner in 2021.

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It’s been a similar story in the Goodwood Cup and King George Stakes, with six-year-olds faring best on success rate, but the Stewards’ Cup has instead favoured the athleticism of youth.

With younger horses perhaps better equipped to cope with a handicap weight, almost one in 10 three-year-olds have crossed the line in first place. The most recent was 2022 King George winner Khaadem, who underlined his credentials with a Stewards’ Cup victory at minimum age in 2019.

Where were the winners bred?

Glorious Goodwood attracts the best racing talent from around the world, with horses from 13 different countries having entered at least one of the main races in the past 20 years.

That said, British and Irish thoroughbreds have tended to come out on top through sheer weight of numbers, with a combined 89 victories across the five races compared with 11 by those from elsewhere.

Of the winners trained outside the UK and Ireland, five were bred in the United States, two in France and one in Germany, Japan, Australia and Italy.

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Irish-bred runners have enjoyed the better rate of success in the Goodwood Cup and the King George Stakes, while British entries have had the upper hand in the Sussex and Nassau Stakes. There is very little to choose between them in the Stewards’ Cup, with British thoroughbreds leading by 10 wins to nine since 2003.

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Tony Kelshaw