Glorious Goodwood: Pace and Draw Pointers

2023 Draw Bias: Qatar ‘Glorious’ Goodwood Festival

As we turn the calendar page from July to August, so the Qatar 'Glorious' Goodwood Festival heaves into view on the rolling Sussex Downs. To emerge victorious from a festival meeting contested on such a quintessentially quirky configuration requires more than a 'mere' understanding of the form. Preparations for those serious about the week will start with an awareness of the layout of the circuit and the implications on race shape.

Draw is rarely as simple - and occasionally not as complicated - as the pundits will tell you in their one line summaries. Let's review the course.

These are Goodwood's helter-skelter pistes:


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If you're confused, you'll not be alone. There is a tight right-hand loop, and a straight of a little shy of half a mile from which point the run in is pretty much all downhill - having been largely uphill to the turn.

Goodwood is normally a front-runner's track for a couple of reasons. Firstly, when horses get to the turn into the straight, they tend to fan wide, giving up ground, just at the moment the pacemaking railer is stealing a length or two. Secondly, horses held up for a later run often get caught in a pocket, with the far rail of the home straight cambering away from the grandstands. That said, a cutaway has been introduced more recently to try to offer patiently ridden runners an outlet close to the far rail and this has made life fairer for all that the clearest passage is usually in front or wide.

So that's the complicated layout of the track. Now what of the weather? With clerk of the course Edward Arkell reporting Thursday morning that they'd received 55mm (more than two inches) of rain in the preceding five days, the current official description is soft, heavy in places. Latest going and weather station news can be found here. The forecast is for intermittent and persistent showers from here on in, and throughout next week's five day meeting. Let's see how soft and heavy ground impacts optimal draw and run style criteria.

Goodwood 5f and 6f Draw / Run Style Bias (Soft or Heavy ground)

Using the Percentage of Rivals Beaten (PRB) metric can be a lot more instructive than simple win and place percentages, especially when the sample sizes are smaller. PRB gives some sort of score to every runner in every race, with the exception of last placed finishers who beat 0% of their rivals. Here's how the PRB draw / run style heat map looks for Goodwood straight track sprints on soft or heavy ground in fields of 7-10 runners:


And here's the same view for fields of 11+ runners:

Generally speaking high draws are at a notable disadvantage and, in bigger fields, being held up is a negative. The combined 7+ runner heat map corroborates that view:



Goodwood 7f and 1m Draw / Run Style Bias (Soft or Heavy ground)

As we move onto the round course and races of seven furlongs or a mile, things get a little less clear cut. Let's start by looking at 7f on soft or heavy, 11+ runners. Here's the win table:

Low favoured, over middle, over high, right? Erm, not necessarily. Let's add in the places to that table:


Now we're thinking anywhere but the middle... but if we extend the runner range to 7+ runners as we did for sprint trips, the picture is extremely vague:



This is better illustrated by a table:


In fact, middle draws have the best PRB figure, but only marginally. After all that prevaricating, the reality is that there's probably no draw advantage and only a narrow edge to those racing in the front half of the field.

At a mile, it's a similarly unclear picture when the going is soft or heavy. Below is the heatmap for 11+ runners, taking in the Golden Mile handicap.  It favours front end run style and/or a low draw in the main.


The Golden Mile itself typically has a strong low draw bias - indeed, it's one of the strongest draw bias races in the calendar, with just one winner exiting a stall more than ten from the rail since 2009 when our database starts:


The only renewal of the Golden Mile to be run on soft or heavy during that time frame was in 2017. Then, Master Of The World won, from stall 3. He beats stalls 6, 2 and 7. With the horse drawn 5 a non-runner, the actual draws of the first four home were 3-5-2-6! The trifecta paid £1251. I didn't have it 🙁

Keep an eye out for the low draws in that one.

With little to report on deep ground at longer trips, it's time to summarize the above.

Summary: Goodwood Draw and Run Style Bias on Soft or Heavy Ground

At sprint trips on the straight track, it has usually been a disadvantage to be drawn high. Horses racing prominently and on the lead have fared best in bigger fields.

Over seven furlongs and a mile, there is a largely level playing field; that said, in bigger fields over a mile, a low draw and / or a front rank racing position can be advantageous.

Good luck



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10 replies
    • Matt Bisogno
      Matt Bisogno says:

      Hi David

      Spencer doesn’t have to ride from the back, though I assume this is what you meant.

      No jockey has a dominant performance at Goodwood in bigger field handicaps. And riding hold up style generally is unsuited in the main to the track.

      RS Runs Wins Places Win % EW % Win PL EW PL ROI A/E IV
      Heldup 445 16 69 3.6 15.51 -298.5 -436.75 -67.08 0.51 0.6
      MidDiv 422 22 83 5.21 19.67 -178.67 -261.46 -42.34 0.7 0.87
      Prom 301 26 77 8.64 25.58 5 5.75 1.66 1.1 1.44
      Led 106 14 40 13.21 37.74 114.13 181.16 107.67 1.59 2.21


  1. lazyhazy
    lazyhazy says:

    Hi Matt,

    This article seems to have overwritten the older ‘Draw Biases at Galway and Goodowood’ article. Is that still available anywhere or will the Galway info also be updated this year? I only ask as I’m going to Galway!! Cheers Lee

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