Truly Glorious Goodwood

In High heels, Men, Older women, People, Shoes on July 30, 2011 at 12:13 am

I’d always thought the name of Goodwood’s annual summer race meeting was rather self-congratulatory. Now I understand it’s simply the most accurate description.

I went on Thursday for Ladies Day and had what I can only describe as one of the most glorious days of my life. The weather was glorious, the setting is glorious, the racing was glorious – and the people watching was truly glorious.

Although it was Ladies Day and Grazia ’s lovely Paula Reed was out with her Channel 4 crew filming the ‘fashions in the field’ (to quote one of my favourite Aussie terms), it was the gents who caught my eye.

And they were ‘gents’. Gentleman of the old school, looking so happy and at ease in their natural habitat and their preferred summer plumage.

Not for Goodwood the painful morning dress of Royal Ascot’s Royal Enclosure.

Even in the smart bit of Gooders – the Richmond Enclosure, my new eden – the dress code for men is nothing more taxing than a suit and tie.


The ideal version being a linen suit worn with a panama hat. They all looked so happy in that get up. Feeling a bit jaunty, but not done up.

The relaxed but chic atmosphere of the event put me most in mind of Henley Regatta, with the big difference that Goodwood is not peopled by a superrace of breathtakingly beautiful love god rowers.

The young men at Henley can make you swoon away – in my early 20s, I could hardly stand it – at Goodwood, I enjoyed admiring the style of the more mature ones.

And it made me reflect, that one of the benefits of growing older is that there is an ever increasing pool of people to find attractive.

Of course it was also fun checking out the women’s oufits, and once again I found I was more taken with the seasoned racegoers, tearing to get to their favourite spot in the stand to watch the race, than I was by the fillies.

Those towering platform stilettos beloved of the under-40s do not look right for the races and they’re so unpractical. I saw a lot of sh’agony – shoe agony – as a result, because you spend your whole time at Goodwood milling about over very uneven terrain.

Over to the parade ring to look at the horses – the true beauties of the day – back to the Tote to place your bet, time for a quick drink, study the form, then over to the stand to watch the race, back to the Tote to collect your winnings, then off to the winners’ enclosure to watch the presentation and generally perve, queue up for some strawberries, listen to the band, and so on.

The whole event is one long passagiata. Which equals people-watching paradise.

I had a wonderful time, not unenhanced by winning on three races and going home £96 richer. Watching the beautiful Gifted Girl romp home, ahead for the whole race, coming in at least four lengths ahead (or so it looked to me…) was a moment of true bliss.

But watching Frankie Dettori, my absolute favourite jockey, collect his second trophy, for winning on a horse I hadn’t backed, was just as good.


I’m already planning next year’s visit. And, of course, I’ll be taking my lucky handbag.


I must add here that I went to Goodwood as a guest member of the press, but that’s not why I’m raving about it. This is my personal blog and I write what I like on it. I can’t be bought – as Giorgio Armani will tell you. He once banned me from his shows for writing a frank and honest review of one I didn’t care for. Not used to being told the inconvenient truth, he got the hump in a big way, but later forgave me.

I’ll be going back to Goodwood next year on my own dollar.


I took far too many pictures to post on here, so I’ve created a Flickr account if you want to have a look at the whole lot (and see what I was wearing ha ha ha).

I don’t really know what I’m doing on there yet, but it’s the ‘set’ called ‘Goodwood 2011’ and you click from shot to shot. They’re all captioned which takes you through the flow of the day.

  1. I grew up in Goodwood. It is glorious. All year round. But especially when the races are on.

    Thank you for all the snaps – the are a lovely reminder of a Sussex summer.

  2. I am so envious of your adventures! I wouldgive anything to live in the UK and not here.
    Waht is up with new feedback from Word Press? The comments are in tiny font and odd and I can’t see them. Do you know why?

    • They’ve changed them???? Not on my computer – it’s all so random. I was up until 2am last night trying to put all those photos where I wanted them, it just about drove me potty.

  3. People watching is practically my favourite sport ever. I do love to see what the more mature ladies are up to out-fit wise- their grooming and are jewels are always so superior to the younger whippersnappers (one of the benefits of aging).

    Hurry up with your next novel x

  4. I’ve never heard of it before! Sounds wonderful, am off to Google it so I can go next year.

  5. Lovely English weather from the looks of it, but so many men (in your pics) were wearing what looked to me like tired old business suits. I love the idea of Panamas and linen, and so suitable for a summer’s day outing. Thought that some of the mature ladies looked perfectly comfortable and groomed in their clothes (skins) and surely that is the point of being out and making la passagiata?
    Love your column Maggie, so glad I still get to read you in Sunday Age.

    • True – the linen suits did look much better. Thanks for kind word about Rules column, after this it’s like shouting into the wind, so great to get feedback xxx

  6. So wish I had been there with you – what a fabulous day! I love the races, grew up in family of punters and race horse owners. You looked fantastic, as did those gents and ladies. I think I would have tried to snatch one of those panamas hats- perhaps not quite the done thing. Love your comment about the advantage of getting older – there is greater talent pool to check out. One of my male school friends explained that benefit to me, and I have say I agree.

  7. Dear Maggie,
    Fabbie you off to the races again! And home with extra cash! What a great day out! But please explain, the woman with the caramel coloured headpiece (veil standing on its head with feathers…showgirl-like?) What’s going on there? Was it a Hens Day at the races? Wonderful!
    Did you ever enjoy a Melbourne Cup Day in the Members’ car park during your time in OZ?. Complete hoot and much more fun than being stuck in the stand. Only drawback, difficult to get a decent view of the track so TVs dotted all about (including in the boots of Bentleys and Rolls from which the picnic lunches and champs are served.

    • It was the most outrageous hat there – and she was so nice about having her piccie taken. I have been many time to the Melbourne Cup and my favourite – the Derby. I won on every race at that one year… also a lot at Flemington. I’m a pretty keen race goer… xxx

  8. What a wonderful day out Maggie, I live near Flemington Racecourse here in Melbourn. I really love the buzz during Spring Racing Carnival, horse floats everywhere & of course girls walking home sans shoes at the end of the day, not to mention the hats of course!

    The gents at Goodwood look most stylish, remind me of the Italian men you see around Rome in summertime!

  9. Fabulous post Maggie, I just love looking at racing crowds. You looked very stylish and I feel rather smug that I have a hat almost identical to yours, bought sometime in the early 90s in an op-shop in regional Queensland (Aust), although mine is a bit more of a pinker shade (perhaps due to fading over the years). I will be sure to tell my husband this evening how fabulous it is……….

    • Thank you for that – I thought that dress made me look hugely fat. It billows out and looks like a maternity dress, but was very comfie in the heat! Love the sound of your hat. xxx

  10. I do love people watching at the races. It really seems to attract both the best and worst in fashion and it is amazing just how wrong and how right people can get it.

    One of my life ambitions is to go to every day of the Melbourne spring carnival with a different outfit and hat, that would be marvelous.

    • I so get that…. I’m already wondering how I can go to TWO days of Glorious Goodwood next year… one with daughter and niece (both horse mad beyond belief) and once with husband, best friend and her chap (all horse mad…) xxx

    • Lisa you are a woman after my own heart! I have the same ambition and am collecting suitable hats in preparation. Last year I managed Oaks Day, this year it is Melbourne Cup (added bonus of celebrating my sister’s 40th birthday). I am collating my outfits already so I have at least 3 choices to match all weather variations. Oh dear, written down that looks just a bit obsessive…..

  11. I love your blog. It always makes me smile and many don’t.

  12. A quiet weary little woman who lived in a bed sitting room off the Tottenham Court Road, and had a husband in a lunatic asylum, did our “Cooking Column,” “Hints on Education” – we were full of hints – and a page and a half of “Fashionable Intelligence,” written in the pertly personal style which even has has not altogether disappeared, so I am informed from modern journalism: “I must tell you about the DIVINE frock I wore at ‘Glorious Goodwood’ last week. Prince C.- but there, I really must not repeat all the things the silly fellow says; he is TOO foolish – and the DEAR Countess, I fancy was just the WEEISH bit jealous” – and so on.

    Poor little woman! I see her now in the shabby grey alpaca with the inkstains on it. Perhaps a day at “Glorious Goodwood,” or anywhere else in the fresh air might have put some colour into her cheeks.

    *The above excerpt from Jerome K Jerome’s “Three Men in a Boat” (1889) was the first I’d heard of Glorious Goodwood. I think of the woman as a predecessor of today’s fashion bloggers.

  13. Hi Maggie, I’m a Manchester girl living in Melbourne and loving it, for the first time in 13 years you’ve made me properly nostalgic!
    Miss Haberdash x

  14. I haven’t been to the races for years – used to go all the time here in Sydney (Randwick). I loved getting all dolled up and watching others do the same. And nothing beats the excitement of having a flutter (and winning!). My life’s ambition was to actually go to the Melbourne Cup one year, so exciting. Wandering around the Melbourne shops in October is so much fun – the windows are FULL of racing fashions, those Melbourne girls take their racing gear mucho seriously, as they should. My racing career at the moment consists of a Mothers Group Melbourne Cup Day lunch of BBQ chicken and champers in the playground! Sigh, maybe next year….

  15. Neat site and some great pictures! I’m looking forward to next week’s Glorious Goodwood meeting 2013 … great racing, mega atmosphere and hopefully lots of winners. Trainer Mark Johnston is worth following next week as his horses are absolutely flying at the momoent and Mark always gets a strong team ready for the GG festival. Enjoy all!!

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