Two upgrades to Britain’s Flat racing programme have been approved by the European Pattern Committee in 2005, following the 19 agreed for 2004 and 18 for 2003.
The Huxley Stakes at Chester on 5th May (1m 2f and 75 yards for 4yo and upwards) and the Albany Stakes at Royal Ascot (at York) on 17th June (6f for 2yo fillies) will have Group 3 status having been run previously as Listed races.
BHB also confirms that the Group 2 Temple Stakes, which was run at Epsom Downs in 2004 having previously been staged at Sandown Park, will return to Sandown in 2005 and will remain a Group 2 race.
In 2004, BHB had endorsed a request from Racecourse Holdings Trust (RHT), which owns both Epsom Downs and Sandown Park, that the race be transferred, but gave its approval on condition that, if the average Annual Race Rating of the 2004 and 2005 races did not meet the Group 2 parameter of 110, the BHB Board would require that other racecourses were offered the opportunity to apply to stage it for 2006. With the 2004 running achieving a rating of 96.25, it has been mutually agreed to move the race back in 2005.
Stephen Wallis, Managing Director of Epsom Downs, said: “We were delighted to have had the chance to run the Temple Stakes as part of the Vodafone Derby meeting in 2004. However, despite all our efforts, the race did not attract the high-class field for which we had hoped. The Temple Stakes is an important race in the sprint calendar and we fully agree that it is preferable that the race should remain within RHT at the venue where it will have the best chance of remaining as a Group 2.”
RHT Group Racing Director John Smee said that the Epsom Downs and Sandown Park Executive had carried out exhaustive discussions and listened to the views of owners and trainers responsible for the black-type sprinters and, with the weight of opinion supporting a transfer back to Sandown Park, RHT and both racecourses have agreed that the Group 2 Temple Stakes will be transferred to the Sandown Park Whitsun Meeting in 2005.
Ruth Quinn, BHB Racing Director, commented: “RHT very much wanted to give the Temple Stakes the opportunity to thrive at Epsom Downs and thus to raise the profile of the Vodafone Derby meeting. The Board approved the transfer but, as the quality of the field in 2004 proved disappointing, there was general agreement that it was right to move the race back to Sandown Park, where it will continue to have the Group 2 status which we are very keen to see maintained.
“As far as the European Pattern upgrades are concerned, we are very pleased that the recent strong records of two progressive races at Chester and Royal Ascot have been rewarded with deserved promotions to Group 3. The quality of the Pattern race programme in Britain goes from strength to strength.”