At its recent annual meeting held on Thursday 16 January, the European Pattern Committee (EPC) considered a number of changes to Flat Black Type races in Europe for 2014.
1. Upgrades & Downgrades in 2014
The Committee approved upgrades for four races, including the granting of Group 2 status to the British Champions Long Distance Cup at Ascot on 18 October and the Solonaway Stakes to be held on 13 September at Leopardstown. The Dick Poole Stakes at Salisbury and the Vintage Crop Stakes at Navan were upgraded from Listed to Group 3 status.
The Committee also downgraded ten races following their 2013 renewals, including the Gran Criterium at San Siro which will now be run as a Group 2. Moreover, the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial at Leopardstown, the Prix Noailles at Longchamp and the Goldene Peitsche at Baden-Baden were demoted from Group 2 to Group 3, having failed to achieve the required rating parameter for the previous three years. The Dee Stakes and Queen’s Vase were similarly downgraded from Group 3 to Listed, while four Italian Listed races will be cut from the Black Type programme altogether.
A summary of the races to be upgraded and downgraded in 2014 is attached.
2. Date and/or Venue Changes in 2014
The Committee formally approved the Pattern race programme on the newly created two-day Irish Champions Weekend to be staged at Leopardstown and the Curragh on 13 and 14 September 2014 respectively. The programme will comprise ten Group races, including five at Group 1 status. As a consequence, the Committee also approved Britain’s request to move the Sun Chariot Stakes at Newmarket one week later to 4 October, thus maintaining the current three-week gap between this race and the Matron Stakes. The Committee also approved changes to the venue of a number of end of season Group races in France, most notably the Group 1 Prix Royal Oak, in anticipation of the closure of Longchamp racecourse for redevelopment after the 2014 running of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.
All changes to either date or venue for Group 1 and 2 races are attached.
3. Quality Control / Races at Risk of Downgrading in 2015
Europe has always set a high standard in terms of quality control of its Black Type races, and the Committee approved further changes to the European Pattern Ground Rules which will ensure an even stricter level of quality control, particularly in relation to the upgrading and downgrading of races as well as continuing to extend the centralised regulation of Listed races.
In accordance with these Ground Rules, 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 in 2014, it could be subject to downgrade for the following year.
As a consequence, 43 races, comprising 14 Pattern races (6 Group 1s, 4 Group 2s and 4 Group 3s) and 29 Listed races were identified as being at risk of downgrading in 2015. A list of these races is attached.
4. Italian Racing
The wider Racing industry will be aware that for some time there have been grave difficulties with the distribution of prize money to both domestic and overseas connections of horses running in Italy. The Committee had previously written to representatives at the Italian Ministry for Agriculture, now responsible for the control of horse racing in that country, indicating the inevitable consequences of continued non-payment of prize money.
It was agreed by the Committee on Thursday that a final ultimatum would be presented to the Italian Authorities stipulating certain conditions in relation to the payment of prize money including the payment of all arrears by the end of March 2014, failing which Italy would cease to be a member of EPC from the start of 2015. In addition, the Committee would recommend to the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities (IFHA) and the Society of International Thoroughbred Auctioneers (SITA) that from 2015, all Italian Group and Listed races should be downgraded from Part I of the International Cataloguing Standards (ICS) Book to Part II, which would mean that Italy’s race gradings would no longer be indicated in sales catalogues.
5. Listed Races
The Committee also agreed to make a recommendation to the IFHA and to SITA that the Grand Prix de Jockey Club in Switzerland should be included as a Listed race within the IFHA’s International Cataloguing Standards Books for 2014. Two new Listed races were also approved for Ireland.
6. Other Matters
The Committee agreed to further consider as a special exercise the optimal European programme of Black Type races for sprinters and stayers, as well as for two-year-olds, at a special meeting to be held in April 2014. A review of the weight-for-age scale had been undertaken by Britain and Ireland, and the Committee agreed that further analysis would now be undertaken by Germany and France to determine if change was required across all member countries. The Committee also agreed to propose to IFHA the adoption of a new system under Article 1 of the IFHA’s International Agreement in relation to the treatment for racing purposes of horses which have run in countries appearing in multiple parts of the ICS Book.
Announcing these changes, Brian Kavanagh, Chairman of the European Pattern Committee stated:
“The European Pattern Committee made a number of important decisions last Thursday including an upgrading of the programme on QIPCO British Champions Day, the approval of the Pattern race programme for the inaugural running of Irish Champions Weekend and a further strengthening of the Committee’s Ground Rules. As a consequence, there will be an overall reduction of Black Type races in Europe this year and a total of 43 races, including 6 Group 1 races, will be subject to review after their 2014 running. The Committee greatly regrets the situation which has developed in Italy but is now setting out clear criteria which must be met in order for Italy to retain its membership of the European Pattern and the Black Type status of its races. The Committee has also agreed that the European programme for sprinters, stayers and two-year-olds would benefit from a special review and will convene a further meeting in April to consider this.”