At its recent annual meeting, the European Pattern Committee (EPC) considered a number of changes from the five EPC member countries and two associate members to Flat Black Type (Group and Listed) races in Europe for 2013.
1. Upgrades / Downgrades in 2013
The Committee approved upgrades for eight races for 2013 including the granting of Group 1 status to the BCS Fillies and Mares Stakes at Ascot on 19th October which increases the number of Group 1 races on British Champions Day to three.
The Committee downgraded the ratings of six races for 2013 including the Europa Meile at Munich and the Royal Whip Stakes at the Curragh, both which drop from Group 2 to Group 3. Two Listed races at Deauville and Pisa drop out of the Black Type programme altogether.
A summary of the races to be upgraded and downgraded is attached.
2. Races at Risk of Downgrading in 2014
As well as considering applications for changes for the current year, the EPC reviews the performance of all Pattern and Listed races run in member countries. Races that consistently underperform are identified after which the host racecourse is put on notice that, if the race fails to achieve the required rating parameter in that calendar year, it could be subject to downgrade for the following year.
Fifteen races, including four Group 1 races, were identified as being at risk of downgrading in 2014 if their ratings do not achieve the required parameter in 2013. A list of these races is attached.
3. Future Champions Day 2014
The Committee approved a request from the British Horseracing Authority and Newmarket Racecourse to stage in 2014 a programme featuring three Group 1 races for 2 year olds (the Dewhurst Stakes, the Fillies Mile and the Middle Park Stakes) and three other Group races at Newmarket on Friday October 17th, the day before British Champions Day at Ascot. The full programme for this fixture, which is promoted as Future Champions Day, is attached. This change sees the Dewhurst Stakes move back to its traditional slot in the calendar.
4. Quality Control
As well as Pattern races, the EPC Ground Rules now also embrace Listed races, meaning that all Black Type races across Europe are subject to consistent quality control mechanisms. Europe has historically led the world in the quality control of its Black Type programme, as demonstrated by the reduction in the number of Listed races for the last two years – down from 471 in 2010 to 460 in 2011 and to 445 in 2012.
The EPC is committed to an on-going review of its Ground Rules under which European Black Type races are managed, recognising that recent foal crops have fallen across Europe following a significant expansion in the horse population during the 2000’s.
Further changes that are under consideration for 2014 include:
• Reducing the number of new Pattern and Listed races that can be created in any year
• Setting higher rating thresholds which races will have to achieve in future in order to qualify for admission into the Pattern (i.e. an upgrade from Listed to Group 3)
• Further tightening of downgrading procedures in the Listed race area
• During the year the EPC will further consider the programme of Pattern races for two-year-olds, which it considers to currently be still less than ideal.
5. Listed Races
The EPC has made a recommendation to the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities (IFHA) and the Society of International Thoroughbred Auctioneers (SITA) that five races in Spain and one race in Switzerland should be included as Listed races within the IFHA’s International Cataloguing Standards Book and so be accorded Listed status in sales catalogues published by the world’s major international auction houses under the auspices of SITA.
Announcing these changes, Brian Kavanagh, Chairman of the European Pattern Committee, stated:
“The major European racing authorities are now actively working together to create a co-ordinated and compelling end of season Group 1 programme in Europe. The addition of a third Group 1 race to British Champions Day is a positive development and due recognition of the success of the event in its first two years. The EPC supports Britain’s ambition to stage five Group 1 races on this card. The restoration of British Future Champions Day to its correct calendar location is also to be welcomed, as it will ensure a more suitable gap from the Arc weekend between races such as the Prix Jean Luc Lagardere and the Dewhurst Stakes, the Prix Marcel Boussac and the Fillies Mile, and the Prix de la Foret and the Challenge Stakes. Together with British Champions Day, it will form an outstanding two days of racing in 2014.”