Goodwood brings glorious end to English social season
The lush green landscape blurs into the background. Eyes that were gazing dreamily over the rolling English countryside are now focused on the scrap between the mount of popular jockey Frankie Dettori and Japanese outsider Deirdre.
The red, white and blue silks seem to merge in a flash of color and as they duel to the line. The gentle hubbub from the stands builds into a roar. British cut-glass accents switch to guttural urgings. Panama hats and ladies’ bonnets nod like wild flowers in the wind as they exhort their favorite for one last push.
Stride by stride, the charging Deirdre — ridden by jockey Oisin Murphy — hunts down Dettori’s front-running Mehdaayih. She surges up the inside nearest the rail, and when the white flash on her nose draws alongside she accelerates again. To groans from the Dettori faithful, she scores a famous victory for Japan to land the £600,000 ($728,000) Nassau Stakes, first staged in 1840.
Back in the stands, Ladies’ Day is in full swing at a sun-kissed Qatar Goodwood Festival, more commonly known as “Glorious Goodwood,” the traditional finale to Britain’s social season.
The “glorious” moniker was added by the Victorian press, but as well as being handy alliteration it perfectly encapsulates the feeling as your eyes look out across the hilltop racecourse and take in the lush landscape of woods, fields and folds of the Sussex Downs in the far south of England. Glorious, indeed.