The British Horseracing Board today announces that three races have been upgraded to Grade 1 status in the Jump Racing Pattern, following approval by BHB’s Race Planning Committee.
The Victor Chandler Chase at Ascot, run over 2 miles and 1 furlong in January, and Cheltenham’s Festival Trophy Chase and Spa Novices’ Hurdle, run over 2 miles 5 furlongs and 3 miles respectively, both at the Festival, have all been raised from Grade 2 status.
BHB’s Jump Racing Committee felt that a strong case could be made for a new mid-season Grade 1 and that the timing of the Victor Chandler Chase was ideal. It sits logically in the Pattern, falling midway between Sandown Park’s Tingle Creek Chase and Cheltenham’s Champion Chase, providing another top level opportunity for the leading two-mile chasers.
In its first three years, the Festival Trophy Chase has performed well within Grade 1 parameters. The same applies to Cheltenham’s Spa Novices’ Hurdle, which since its inauguration has seen its rating exceed that of the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Festival, and it was felt the race was a justified Grade 1 addition to the 3 mile Novice division.
With the upgrade of Cheltenham’s Festival Trophy Chase and Ascot’s Victor Chandler Chase, there is now a balance of three Grade 1 races across the 2 mile, 2 ½ mile and 3 mile chase categories.
BHB Racing Manager Stuart Middleton said: “We are convinced that upgrading the Victor Chandler Chase to a level-weights Grade 1 contest presents a really exciting opportunity, not only for Victor Chandler and Ascot, but for the top two-milers who are so cherished by racing fans: they have been some of the outstanding performers in Jump Racing in recent years and we wanted to address an increasing trend that saw some of them having a mid-season break. Similarly, Cheltenham’s races were fully deserving of their upgrades, having performed so well since their inception.”
Victor Chandler’s Head of Public Relations Neal Wilkins said: “Since its inaugural running in 1989 when Desert Orchid beat Panto Prince in one of the Racing Post’s Top One Hundred Races, the Victor Chandler Chase has provided some great finishes and proved an ideal stepping stone for the Champion Chase. Its elevation to Grade 1 status will ensure that the race attracts top quality two-mile chasers who will ultimately be aimed at the Queen Mother Champion Chase.”