British Racing welcomes addition of two Group 1 races in boost to sprint programme

13 Aug 2014 Racing/Fixtures

  •  New Group 1 six furlong race for three-year-olds at Royal Ascot
  • QIPCO British Champions Series Sprint upgraded to Group 1 from 2015

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA), together with British Champions Series and Ascot Racecourse, today welcomed the plans announced by the European Pattern Committee (EPC) for improvements and upgrades to the programme of sprint Pattern races in Europe, which include an additional two Group 1 races in Britain.

As part of a package of measures to create a more balanced programme and better opportunities for high class sprinters, from 2015 Royal Ascot will stage a new Group 1 race, to be run over six furlongs for three-year-olds.

In addition, the QIPCO British Champions Sprint has been upgraded from Group 2 to Group 1, meaning that the 2015 running of QIPCO British Champions Day at Ascot will feature four Group 1 races with prize money on the day topping £4m.

The changes have been developed over the last six months after it was agreed at the EPC’s annual meeting in January that the European sprint programme warranted addressing. Unanimous approval was required in order to implement the exceptional measures recommended, which sees changes to the sprint programme in Britain, France, Germany and Ireland.

As well as the new and upgraded Group 1 races at Ascot, further enhancements to the sprint programme for three-year-olds in Britain are upgrades to the Pavilion Stakes at Ascot in April, from Listed to Group 3, and the Sandy Lane Stakes at Haydock Park in May, from Listed to Group 2.

Ruth Quinn, BHA Director of Racing and Britain’s representative on the EPC, warmly welcomed the changes:

“The introduction of the new Group 1 race at Royal Ascot and the accompanying upgrades to existing races represents a tremendous opportunity for British and European racing and the overall package of measures is, I believe, a significant step forward.

“The absence of a programme for three-year-old sprinters within the European Pattern was notable and it was an obstruction to Europe competing with other international jurisdictions in terms of producing world class sprinters. All of us on the EPC agreed that the opening months of the European season do not currently provide sufficient opportunities for young sprint horses to develop and progress to the best of their ability.

“Too often we see horses with quality two-year-old form over sprint distances having their stamina stretched in the early part of their three-year-old career to see if they might prove up to Pattern level over a mile. The alternative for such horses is to be pitched in against older, more experienced horses, a task not asked of other three-year-olds until they are more mature in July.

“In addition, and arguably more worryingly, we have seen a number of Group winning horses retired to stud at the end of their two-year-old season; decisions which can only have been influenced by the absence of a suitable programme that plays to the horse’s strengths during their three-year-old campaign. We strongly felt that such outcomes are not in the best interests of the sport and consequently we encouraged the development of the bold moves proposed by the EPC and we look forward to implementing them.

“We did something similar ten years ago when we created a much stronger programme for older fillies which served to encourage high class fillies and mares to stay in training. That project has worked well and I am confident that the changes to the sprint programme will do likewise. As is the case for any race granted Group status or an upgrade in exceptional circumstances, the performance of the races in question will be reviewed by the EPC after three years.”

Speaking on behalf of British Champions Series, Rod Street, Chief Executive, said:

“We are delighted that the Sprint will be upgraded to Group 1 from 2015. The upgrade means we have doubled the number of Group 1 races on QIPCO British Champions Day from two to four in as many years and prize money has improved from £3m to £4m. The news ensures that QIPCO British Champions Day will further build on its status as the richest day’s racing in Britain and assist our sponsor’s objective of developing one of the best race meetings in the world. It is tremendous that in such a short space of time the day has progressed so far.”

Charles Barnett, Chief Executive of Ascot Racecourse, said:

“We are very pleased to be able to stage what we hope will now become a significant new option for three-year-old sprinters at Royal Ascot before they go on to compete against their elders in the Darley July Cup and beyond.

“It is remarkable to think that in 2001, there were just four Group 1 races at Royal Ascot, none of which were sprint races and we now have eight Group 1s at the meeting. Three of them are for sprinters and the two established races are now major targets for international horses.

“I would like to thank Brian Kavanagh, Chairman of the EPC, for leading on these exciting developments and all the racing authorities around Europe for demonstrating such confidence in British Racing and Ascot to deliver on the focal points of the new sprinting Pattern which has been announced today.”

Kirkland Tellwright, North West Regional Head of Racing for Jockey Club Racecourses, said:

“This is a real endorsement for the investment in the track at Haydock Park and our continual approach of seeking to upgrade races and drive quality. The BHA must be congratulated for delivering this very exciting proposition for three-year-old sprinters.”


Notes for Editors:

1. The EPC press release regarding the changes to the European sprint programme from 2015 can be found here:

2. The new status of existing races, as well as the additional races approved by EPC, is as follows:

Month Racecourse Race name Distance Status Country
April Chantilly Sigy 6f Group 3 3yo FR
April Ascot Pavilion 6f Group 3 3yo GB
May Maisons-Laffitte Texanita 5½f Group 3 3yo FR
May Curragh Greenlands 6f Group 2 as 4+ IRE
May Haydock Park Sandy Lane 6f Group 2 3yo GB
June Naas Lacken 6f Group 3 3yo IRE
June Royal Ascot New race 6f Group 1 3yo GB
July Curragh Sapphire 5f Group 2 IRE
August Baden-Baden Golden Peitsche 6f Group 2 GER
September Curragh Flying Five 5f Group 2 IRE
October Ascot British Champions Sprint 6f Group 1 GB


3. Following the introduction of the six furlong Group 1 race for three-year-olds at Royal Ascot, the conditions of the Diamond Jubilee Stakes (Group 1), also run over six furlongs, will be amended and from 2015 the race will be open to four-year-olds and above. The conditions of the King’s Stand Stakes (Group 1) will be unchanged, with the five furlong race remaining open to three-year-olds and above. The Jersey Stakes run over seven furlongs will remain as Group 3, except that the conditions will exclude winners of Pattern races.