The British Horseracing Authority (BHA)’s Jump Pattern Committee has today announced a number of upgrades to British Jump Pattern and Listed races for the 2016/17 season, including The National Hunt Steeple Chase Challenge Cup – run at the Cheltenham Festival – being upgraded from Listed to Grade 2 status.
The race popularly known as the 4 mile National Hunt Chase has gained the upgrade after the 2016 renewal saw Jonjo O’Neill’s 6-year-old Minella Rocco take on a field of 20 to win by a length and a quarter, to the Colin Tizzard trained Native River. The race boasts past winners such as Cause Of Causes, who went on to win again at Cheltenham in 2016, and Butler’s Cabin, who went on to win the Irish Grand National.
Further to this, Sandown Park has also received an upgrade of its bet365 Select Hurdle race from Listed to Grade 2, and two Novices Hurdle races, at Cheltenham and Perth, have been granted Listed status.
All options are considered in detail by the BHA’s Jump Pattern Committee. The races set to receive a change to their status for 2016/17 season are listed below:
|Name of race||Venue and approximate date||Distance||Previous status||New Status|
|National Hunt Steeple Chase Challenge Cup||Cheltenham Festival – mid-March||4m||Listed||Grade 2|
|Neptune Investment Management Novices Hurdle||Cheltenham – New Year||2m 5f||Class 3||Listed|
|The bet365 Select Hurdle||Sandown – season finale, end of April||2m 5½f||Listed||Grade 2|
|The British Stallions Future Champions EBF National Hunt Novices’ Hurdle race||Perth Festival – mid April||3m||Class 2||Listed|
Ruth Quinn, Director of International Racing and Racing Development for the BHA, said:
“The Pattern Committee considered a number of possible changes to the programme for this season. The four races being upgraded not only qualified on ratings but were each felt to add a worthwhile dimension to the programme of Pattern and Listed races.
“I am particularly pleased to see both the Select Hurdle and the National Hunt Chase being upgraded into the Pattern. The Select was created as part of the aim to develop a fitting conclusion to the Jump season and is growing in stature, whilst the National Hunt Chase is a race that has enjoyed somewhat of a renaissance in more recent history. It’s clearly a race for the hardiest of novices, but it attracts a strong field with some quality horses who have gone on to further success.”
Richard Norris, Group Racing Director at the Jockey Club, said:
“The Jockey Club is committed to supporting Jump Racing at the highest level and are delighted three of our races are being upgraded for the forthcoming season.
“The bet365 Select Hurdle going to Grade 2 after just three runnings is another significant boost to Sandown Park’s Jump Finale, following recent upgrades of the bet365 Celebration Chase and the bet365 Oaksey Chase. These changes have helped the Finale to establish itself as a thrilling climax to the Jumps season.
“The upgrade of the National Hunt Chase to a Grade 2 recognises the constantly improving quality of runners at Cheltenham, with its status as a race only for Amateur riders remaining unchanged. Away from The Festival, the upgrade of the Neptune Investment Management Novice Hurdle on New Year’s Day provides a further boost to a quality-packed card that now offers five Class 1 races.”
Harriet Graham, Clerk of the Course at Perth Racecourse, said:
“The team here at Perth racecourse are ecstatic to receive an upgrade to our British Stallions Future Champions EBF National Hunt Novices’ Hurdle race, it is a great reflection of the work being done to ensure the racecourse is the best it can be. The race takes place during The Perth Festival, our premier fixture, which is so well supported by trainers from England, Wales, Ireland and of course Scotland.”
Notes to Editors:
1. BHA’s Jump Pattern Committee is responsible for maintaining the programme of Jump Pattern and Listed races in Britain. Any possible changes to Pattern and Listed races are assessed on the basis of the quality of runners over the previous three years, the average field size attracted by the race, and the effect of any upgrade on the shape of the British Jump Pattern as a whole.
2. The press release outlining the full list of upgrades for the 2015/16 season can be found here:
3. More detail about BHA’s Committees can be found below: