• King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot gains Group 1 status
• A fillies and mares’ race promoted to Group 2 and two further upgrades into the Pattern secured
Britain will stage an additional Group 1 race in 2008, following the European Pattern Committee’s upgrading of the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot at last week’s annual meeting in Paris. The five furlong event has emerged as one of Europe’s leading sprints in recent years, consistently attracting an international field.
The strength of Britain’s Flat racing programme was further recognised with two Listed contests being promoted into the Pattern. The Glorious Stakes at Goodwood, run over twelve furlongs, and the John of Gaunt Stakes at Haydock Park, run over seven furlongs, have both gained Group 3 status for 2008.
In line with the aim of boosting the older fillies and mares’ programme across Europe, the Princess Royal at Ascot has been raised to Group 2 status from Group 3 and will be run at Newmarket’s Champions’ Meeting under a new name.
The Bentinck Stakes, a Group 3, over six furlongs, has been transferred to Ascot from Newmarket in exchange and will be run as the Bengough Stakes at their October meeting, whilst the Harvest Stakes, a Listed race over twelve furlongs at Ascot in September will adopt the name of Princess Royal Stakes.
The European Pattern Committee also approved the switch of the Temple Stakes, a Group 2 over five furlongs, from Sandown Park to Haydock Park. The race will have its prize money boosted from £85,000 to £100,000.
British Horseracing Authority Director of Racing Ruth Quinn said: “Ascot has invested a great deal of time and money in the King’s Stand and results in recent years are a clear indication that this is proving to be successful. As we know, the Global Sprint Challenge very quickly established itself as an attractive additional incentive for sprinters worldwide to travel and it has certainly added another dimension to a sphere that for some years had been lacking in narrative or interest. It can clearly be argued that there is a case for a European Group 1 over five furlongs in the first half of the season and with the King’s Stand now proving to be as strong as any existing Group 1 sprint race in Europe, we are finally able to justify rewarding it Group 1 status.
“The special project that the European Pattern Committee commenced in 2004 to enhance the programme for older fillies and mares identified a need for a strong twelve furlong race towards the end of the season. It was always the intention that such a race should be part of Newmarket’s Champions’ meeting and, with the help of Ascot racecourse, we have now succeeded in putting the final piece in the jigsaw for the European fillies’ programme. As a Group 2, this race should add further strength in depth to one of Newmarket’s showpiece events.
“The Glorious and John of Gaunt are also consistently strong races and fully justify their upgrade to Group 3. Both races will provide an improved balance to the respective distance categories within the Pattern in Great Britain.”
Charles Barnett, Chief Executive at Ascot, said: “We’re delighted to see the King’s Stand Stakes formally recognised as the championship race it has become over the last few years.
“The promotion of the King’s Stand could not have been achieved without the support and rigorous lobbying of the BHA on the European Pattern Committee over the last couple of years, for which Ruth Quinn and her team deserve tremendous credit.”
Nick Smith, Head of Public Relations at Ascot added: “British and indeed European sprinting has improved dramatically recently, and not in any small part down to the international nature of the Royal Ascot sprints, the Darley July Cup and the Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes.
“The King’s Stand is actually Europe’s most international race and has been won consecutively by Australia’s champion sprinter – Takeover Target in 2006 and Miss Andretti in 2007.
“Going into 2008, Britain is represented in the Global Sprint Challenge by three races – the King’s Stand, Golden Jubilee, and Darley July Cup. When the 2007 World Rankings are confirmed it is highly likely that these races will top the turf sprinting pile, worldwide, which shows the development of this division.”
John Smee, Jockey Club Racecourses Group Racing Director said: “Jockey Club Racecourses are very pleased that all three applications have been agreed by the European Pattern Committee. Newmarket are excited by the prospect of staging the new Group 2 fillies and mares race, which will further enhance the prestige of the Champions meeting, and Haydock Park are equally delighted that the transfer of the Temple Stakes to Haydock Park has been sanctioned as this now gives Haydock Park an impressive sprint portfolio.
“The upgrade to Group 3 status of the John of Gaunt, run at Haydock Park, again demonstrates Jockey Club Racecourses commitment to improve the quality of racing across its estate.”