By and large, all things considered and weighing all things equally, its generally a bit of a relief to know that, whatever the morning may threaten – a ghastly commute, a sudden downpour or a particularly weak cup of coffee – one is unlikely to have to fight a duel. Very little can put one off one’s breakfast more than the idea that one may not be around to see it.
Of course, in one’s weaker moments, one may very well wish that one could demand satisfaction from whoever it was who made one’s unsatisfactory coffee, break out the swords or pistols, and to hell with refunds, loyalty cards and statutory rights. Then one remembers that getting shot at is, though probably jolly exciting, something one should engage in as little as possible. (If one does, however, find oneself going twenty paces with an ill-trained barista, we recommend wearing a silk shirt rather than a cotton one; a fight to the death definitely qualifies as a special occasion, and silk’s said to lower the risk of infection should one get winged.)
This week, the only duel we intend to be involved in is The Duel on the Downs at Goodwood, as Ribchester and Churchill duke it out in the £1m Group One Sussex Stakes. Alongside the spectacle of Big Orange attempting a record-breaking three-in-a-row in the Goodwood Cup, few sights are likely to gladden the heart than five days of flat racing on one of the country’s finest estates, starting today.
Edward VII described Glorious Goodwood as ‘a garden party with racing tacked on’, and the dress code reflects the sense of fun and low-key formality. When it comes to the dress code, ‘informal elegance’ is one phrase use by the organisers. ‘Smart – but not stuffy’ is another.
The Richmond enclosure is open only to members; ladies are encouraged to pick out a summer dress and as magnificent an example of millinery as they care to don. A jacket and tie is the bare minimum for gentlemen, who might (weather permitting) find that a linen suit and a sharp Panama will be just the ticket. The Gordon enclosure is more informal but no less elegant, and the Lennox enclosure has no formal dress code (though the organisers have found reason to inform their audience that they draw the line at bare chests or fancy dress; the mind boggles). Anything and everything else you might need to know can be found at https://www.goodwood.com/flagship-events/qatar-goodwood-festival/.
So stiffen the lip in the face of that commute, endure the occasional downpour with fortitude and put that watery coffee to one side – Goodwood is here, and everything else can wait.