The South Downs green is a green just a little bit greener than all other greens. But of course it is, because this green is the rolling hills and impeccable turf of Goodwood Qatar Festival. And Goodwood is never second best. Against this backdrop, the red of Qatar carnations blooming upon the lapels (against the hearts) of race goers reflecting the pulsing organ as it throbs in time to the beat of hooves. And the highlight of this glorious Goodwood morning? The Magnolia Cup!
The Magnolia Cup is a race like none other. An entirely charitable affair, now in its fifth year, the race involves the most high profile and prominent ladies to raise finances for female focused charities. And what a sight it was. Jockeys are famed for their silks but these were something else. Each one created by a prominent designer. Aptly named Harrods Hero, ridden by Alexis Green was dressed by Liberty of London no less! Those synonymous florals in a wash of pastels gleaming under the flash of press bulbs. Lenora Smee, dressed by Beluah, hand on hips, and pearly whites bared, had honed her pose with all of the professionalism of a ‘horsewalk’ model.
But while every lady shone just as brightly as her designer, the race itself gave more excitement than could possibly have been anticipated. With a false start seeing Doha bolt to the finish line followed by two stragglers, the race was finally underway, seeing High Fidelity ridden by Camilla Henderson gallop to triumph. In second place came Bette’s Daughter ridden by Shadi Halliwell, with Celestial Night coming in at third ridden by Emily London.
The immaculate HRH Princess Eugene handed out the prize in gleaming white, accompanied by a beaming Lord March, Camilla Henderson glowed with the wash of compliments and camera flickers. Over the last five years the race has raised over £800,000 for charity and so to win was to be so much more than the owner of a red rosette.
As amateur jockeys, working tirelessly for months before the race to prepare for this one off, every single woman was a winner. For who could not walk away as a champion, having felt the force of a galloping thoroughbred beneath them, dressed entirely in designer silk, upon the magnificent race track that is The Qatar Festival!