BIG READ: And they're off! The summer season at Goodwood begins
As its 2018 season of world-famous events kicks off today with seven high-class horse races,Â the hard-workingÂ teams that turn the bustling Goodwood calendar of fixtures into a reality tell of the preparation required to get things off the ground.
At the heart of it all is a 17thÂ century house, situated in picturesque parkland, part of a 12,000-acre site in West Sussex.
AndÂ there's a new Â£2m investmentÂ set to wow visitors.Â
Horses, jockeys and trainers from across continents visit the sporting estateÂ toÂ battle it out on itsÂ immaculately-groomed,Â 11-hectareÂ racecourse, for The Qatar Goodwood Festival each summer.Â
But rest-assured,Â on the site that has been home to the Dukes of Richmond for more than 300 years '“ there's something for everyone, including families,Â petrolheadsÂ and partygoers.Â
'It costs a lotÂ of money to prep theÂ racecourseÂ andÂ maintain it each year,'Â says Ed Arkell, whoÂ isÂ clerkÂ of theÂ course at the Goodwood Estate.Â
'We're a premier racecourse, it's vital we have the best possible racing surface to attract the best horses in the country and internationallyÂ '“Â it has to be pristine for each fixture.Â
'AllÂ ofÂ theÂ work weÂ doÂ is on a year-round cycle.Â We start preppingÂ for the next racing season atÂ the end of the current oneÂ in the middle of October.Â
'WeÂ do some remedial work onÂ the racecourseÂ '“Â cut theÂ turfÂ very shortÂ with a 21ft mower, rake it hard to get the debris out,Â and leave it alone for the winter.Â
'Then theÂ first thing we do is give the grass another cut, and once you do that it thickens at the bottom '“ you don't want masses of height you want it to growÂ outÂ and thickenÂ '“ thatÂ holds the surface together and there's less damage once horses are galloping on it.Â
'During the season we keep it cutÂ andÂ slit, and then after each race day we repair all of the damage by hand, weÂ lift upÂ all of the divotsÂ andÂ hoofÂ marksÂ so we have a nice, level surface.Â
'The parade ring requires the same kind of maintenance but on a different scale.'Â Â
TheÂ racecourseÂ sits at the top of the South DownsÂ and hosts 19 days of racing each year, from May to October.Â
Ed started working at Goodwood in September butÂ has worked with racecourses for 10 years. At Goodwood heÂ looks afterÂ theÂ racecourse, parade ring,Â stables, theÂ horses and theirÂ owners,Â trainersÂ and jockeys.Â Â
'I love preparing for the events and seeing them run successfully,'Â he adds.Â
'We haveÂ seven full-time ground staffÂ andÂ casuals who come in on race days and afterwards to helpÂ '“Â they all work very hard.Â
'The Qatar Goodwood Festival is myÂ favouriteÂ event, we have some of the best horses in the world racingÂ there,Â it's the pinnacle or our season.'Â
GoodwoodÂ has been home to theÂ DukesÂ of Richmond since 1697.Â GoodwoodÂ House is open to visitors fromÂ March toÂ October, whoÂ can take a tour of the state rooms, enjoyÂ works of art andÂ indulgeÂ in a quintessential EnglishÂ afternoon tea.Â
Alex Eade, general manager of the racecourse,Â has been overseeing the Â£3m investment into the racecourse and its surroundings.Â
'We'veÂ got a new Â£2m champagne bar being built on the Richmond lawn,' says the 42-year-old.
'We've alwaysÂ hadÂ a champagne lawn but there will be a sparkling new,Â concreteÂ terrace whichÂ willÂ allowÂ visitors to look out over theÂ racecourse, orÂ turn around and seeÂ the Isle of Wight.Â Â
'It's beenÂ designedÂ by SirÂ MichaelÂ Hopkins.Â You can see theÂ barÂ taking shape and itÂ will beÂ ready for this year'sÂ Qatar Festival.Â Â
'We're all incredibly excitedÂ aboutÂ it because it's going to be amazing and completely unique to Goodwood.'
Alex saysÂ another Â£1.5m is being spent on general updates, and thatÂ when people return to Goodwood this year they'll notice a big difference.Â Â
'It's about making a nicer experience for the customer, and this investment is over the space of three years, so there'll be more to come next year and the year after,' he adds.Â
'We're classically known for our Qatar Festival, butÂ our other events are growing.Â
'We're going fromÂ strength to strength each year.'Â
The Qatar Goodwood FestivalÂ hasÂ been a highlight of the flat racing season for many years.Â Â
While the sport isÂ theÂ centrepiece, many simply enjoy theÂ atmosphere with a glass of English sparkling wine, observing theÂ fashion that is unique to the event.Â
Ladies' Day seesÂ glamour paired with the excitement of the Magnolia Cup '“ a charity race for inspirational women fromÂ the worlds of fashion, media, sport and business.Â Â
Situated close toÂ Chichester, theÂ motorÂ circuitÂ at GoodwoodÂ hosts track days and experiencesÂ forÂ all.Â Â
Dan GarlickÂ isÂ the lead Festival of SpeedÂ organiser,Â and says motor racing fans love the event because of the touching-distance access fansÂ getÂ toÂ the most significant racing cars in history.Â
'The 2018 Festival will be a dramatic celebration of the event itself, in recognition of its 25thÂ anniversary,' says Dan.Â 'FansÂ rub shoulders with star drivers and it makes forÂ a very special atmosphere.Â Â Â
'Our aim every year is to make the festivalÂ louder, faster and more exciting than ever before.
'We have a large and dedicated team whoÂ agoniseÂ over every aspect of content and customer experience, to make sure itÂ continues to evolve.'
To find out more about this season's events, go toÂ goodwood.com.
The fascinating family history behind Goodwood
The first Duke of Richmond and Lennox (1672-1723)Â originally rented GoodwoodÂ to enjoy the foxhunting with the nearby Charlton Hunt. He then bought the original house on the estate as a hunting lodge in 1697.Â Evidence has shown a house existed at Goodwood as early as 1570.Â The (current) 11thÂ Duke of Richmond, Lennox, Gordon andÂ Aubigny, born in 1955, took over the chairmanship of the Goodwood Group of Companies in 1994. He is the founder of the Festival of Speed (1993) and the Goodwood Revival Meeting (1998). The duke has a career in photography andÂ lives with his wife,Â the HonÂ Janet Astor, and their three children, in Goodwood House.
May 24-26: Festival of Food and RacingÂ Â AÂ showcase ofÂ artisan producers and suppliers, with demonstrations, talks and a farmer's market. Plus, threeÂ afternoonsÂ of horseracingÂ June 1, 8 and 15:Â Three Friday NightsÂ RacingÂ followed byÂ DJ setsÂ on the Parade Ring decksÂ fromÂ Rudimental, Example & DJ Wire and Steve AokiÂ
June 10: FamilyÂ Raceday An opportunity to introduce younger generations toÂ racingÂ
July 12-15:Â Festival of Speed '“ The Silver JubileeÂ A global gathering of some of the greatest machines ever built, withÂ vehicles from the dawn of motoring to the present day July 31-August 4:Â The Qatar GoodwoodÂ FestivalÂ Horses, jockeys and trainers come from Â across continents to compete. Ladies' Day is onÂ August 2, when glamour pairsÂ withÂ the Magnolia Cup
August 24-26: August Bank Holiday WeekendÂ The event rekindles theÂ atmosphere of the Great British summer holidays of yesteryearÂ September 4 and 26:Â Midweek RacingÂ For anyone looking to enjoyÂ the races at a slower paceÂ September 7-9:Â Goodwood RevivalÂ AÂ historic motorsport event that assemblesÂ theÂ most significant racing cars and motorcycles from the halcyon days of motor racing
October 14: Season Finale