Britain’s Flat racing programme was further strengthened at the 2006 meeting of the European Pattern Committee in Germany last week, with three races within the Pattern upgraded, and a further three Listed contests acquiring Group 3 status.
A pair of two-year-old races, the Norfolk Stakes – over 5 furlongs at Royal Ascot – and the Superlative Stakes, run over 7 furlongs at Newmarket, were both upgraded from Group 3 to Group 2 status, as was Newbury’s Hungerford Stakes, over 7 furlongs for three-year-olds and upwards.
The Acomb Stakes at York, also for two-year-olds, was upgraded from Listed to Group 3 status, as was the Hackwood Stakes at Newbury, over six furlongs for three-year-olds and upwards, and Lingfield Park’s Winter Derby, over ten furlongs for four-year-olds and upwards. The latter race becomes Britain’s first race on an All Weather Track to be upgraded into the Pattern.
In addition, York will stage a 10 furlong Group 2 race at its meeting on July 29th 2006. The race, formerly known as the Scottish Derby, was moved after Ayr racecourse chose not to stage it in 2006. The race will now fall equidistant between the two Group 1 midsummer races, the Coral-Eclipse Stakes at Sandown Park, and the Juddmonte International, also at York.
BHB Racing Director Ruth Quinn said: “The Pattern race programme in Britain is obviously a significant success story and the most diverse in the world. Our strength in depth is reflected by the six upgrades to be introduced for 2006.
“We’re delighted to be able to enhance the Royal Ascot week further, and also to see the achievement of our first Pattern race created from within the AWT programme. I am also particularly pleased that we are to see the upgrade of the Hungerford Stakes, as the improvement of the 7 furlong Pattern race programme is an area that we have focused on for some time.
“Recent years have seen the upgrade of the Lennox Stakes at Goodwood and the Park Stakes at Doncaster over the same trip, for example, and we aspire to have a 7 furlong Group 1 event in this country, hopefully in the not-too-distant future.”