Goodwood racecourse has signed a ten-year deal with Qatar, marking the biggest sponsorship deal in British horse racing. From 2015, the 200-year-old Glorious Goodwood festival will be rebranded as the Qatar Goodwood Festival.
The agreement includes £2m investment in eight core races and a further £4.5m in annual prize money. Most notably, the Group 1 Qatar Sussex Stakes will offer prize-money of £1 million, an increase of £700,000 from 2014. This offer will strengthen its status as one of the world’s most valuable mile-long races. The Qatar Stewards’ Cup, controversially renamed the 32Red Cup last year as part of a one-year deal with a casino games and betting firm, will be worth £250,000. The minimum amount of race prize money will be £20,000. Arabian racing will also be permanent fixture.
This investment will attract more competitors from further afield, and anchor Goodwood’s reputation as a world-class festival. The value and length of the deal with Qatar is likely to make the iconic five-day festival a more significant competitor for both Ascot and York.
This deal marks another trophy asset for the Gulf state. Qatar is playing an increasingly significant financial role in the UK. Qatar Investment Authority owns luxury department store Harrods, the Shard, and a percentage of the London Stock Exchange. The partnership continues up to and beyond the 2022 FIFA World Cup, which is scheduled to take place in Qatar. The way in which Qatar was awarded the right to host the event and the scheduling has been subject to scrutiny. Allegations of corruption surrounding the bidding process, as well as poor pay and dangerous conditions endured by migrant workers have undermined confidence in the event. Adam Waterworth, managing director of Goodwood, does not believe the World Cup controversy will cause complications for Goodwood.
The first Qatar Goodwood Festival will take place from 28 July to 1 August 2015.