The charitable side of ... Glorious Goodwood

John Plummer

Charitable activity at Goodwood isn't that regular. But when it happens, it does so gloriously.

The English aristocracy decamped to the countryside in West Sussex last week to enjoy the frolics at Glorious Goodwood, the July festival horse race meeting that precedes Cowes and the grouse shooting season on the social calendar. "Flirty frocks and effortless chic" are the order of the day, according to the website.

Edward VII famously described Goodwood as "a garden party with racing tacked on", and a century later little has changed. There is a certain amount of charitable activity tacked on as well.

For example, there's the Race Week Ball, although this isn't an annual event. Tickets for the last bash in 2003 cost £125. The money raised went to Racing Welfare, which supports people from the racing industry, and St Richard's Hospital in nearby Chichester.

Last year, celebrities such as Ian Botham and Ronnie Corbett also supported a charity race day at the course, raising £125,000 for Cancer Research UK, Racing Welfare and St Richard's Hospital. But there are no plans to repeat it this year. In practice, then, the only time visitors to last week's meeting were asked to dip into their pockets was when they passed the collection tins for St John Ambulance that were dotted around the course.

But the Earl of March, whose family has owned the estate for more than 300 years, is clearly a man who likes his visitors to have a good time.

Besides horse racing, the Goodwood estate hosts motor racing and golf, and Goodwood House holds an enviable art collection.

"Good is never good enough," purrs the Earl from beneath a picture of him peering rakishly out of a suitably sporty motor in the estate brochure.

"Everything has to be glorious."

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