OLBG Mares’ Hurdle elevated to Grade 1 status as BHA announces upgrades to Jump Pattern races for 2014/15

22 Jul 2014

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) is delighted to announce a number of upgrades to British Jump Pattern and Listed races for the 2014/15 season, including the elevation of the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle (registered as the David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle) at the Cheltenham Festival to Grade 1.

The OLGB Mares’ Hurdle was added to the Cheltenham Festival in 2008 and quickly saw history made with the great Mare Quevega winning the last six renewals and in doing so becoming the first horse to win a race in six consecutive years at the Festival. However, it is the strength in depth that the race has produced which has allowed its upgrading to Grade 1 status to be approved.

Applications for upgrade were considered in detail by BHA’s Jump Racing Committee. All races to receive a change to their status for 2014/15 season are:

Name of race Venue and approximate date Distance Previous status New status
The Hampton Novices’ Chase (previously The Betfred Goals Galore Extra Novices’ Steeple Chase) Warwick, January 3m 1/2f Class 2 Listed
The John Smith’s Scottish County Hurdle Musselburgh, February 2m Class 2 Listed
OLBG Mares’ Hurdle (registered as The David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle race) Cheltenham, March 2m 4f Grade 2 Grade 1
The Hillhouse Quarry Handicap Steeple Chase Ayr , April 2m 4f Class 2 Listed


As has already been announced by Arena Racing Company, BHA has added a new Mares’-only race to the programme at Doncaster, this will become the first Listed or Pattern race opportunity for Mares in the Jump season:

Name of race Venue and approximate date Distance Previous status New status
Doncaster Mares’ Steeple Chase Doncaster, December 2m 4f n/a Listed


BHA has strengthened the Mares’ programme over recent years by increasing the number of Mares-only races and introducing new Lised or Pattern opportunities for Mares. The objective of this has been to promote ownership of Mares in training by increasing opportunities for Fillies and Mares of all abilities in the race programme. This also provides further incentive for prospective owners to purchase Jumping-bred Fillies and Mares at auction.

Ruth Quinn, Director of Racing for BHA, said:

“We are extremely pleased to be able to upgrade the OLGB Mares’ Hurdle to Grade 1 status as it is a race which has performed consistently in the seven years since its inception. This is partially thanks to the presence of Quevega but also because the race has consistently produced large and high-class fields.

“The work of Quevega and the upgrading to Grade 1 status mean that the Festival now boasts a truly aspirational and important Mares-only race so soon after the concept was introduced to the Festival programme. This, alongside the wider work to upgrade the Mares’ programme, provides a real incentive to buy and keep top class hurdling Mares in training which is important for the horse population as a whole.”

Simon Claisse, Jockey Club Regional Head of Racing for the South West Region and Clerk of the Course at Cheltenham said:

“I am firstly delighted that the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle, registered as the David Nicholson, has been promoted to Grade 1 status. Quevega has made the race her own over the last six years, but since its inception in 2008, it has gone from strength to strength.

“Cheltenham Racecourse is committed to supporting Mare-only races with six Pattern and Listed races throughout our season and for the Championship race at The Festival to be promoted to Grade 1 shows the strength and depth in this area of the sport.

“Secondly, it is also great news that the race on Classic Chase Day at Warwick has been upgraded to Listed status and shows the strength of Jump racing at the course.”

David Brown, Managing Director of Ayr Racecourse said:

“I am delighted our feature race on the opening day of the Coral Scottish Grand National Festival has been elevated to Listed status. It is also a huge boost to the Hillhouse Quarry Group who have sponsored the race for more than 20 years.”

Bill Farnsworth, General Manager of Musselburgh Racecourse said:

“We are delighted that the John Smith’s Scottish County Hurdle has been awarded Listed status, accompanying the Listed Scottish Triumph Hurdle Trial, on Musselburgh’s Cheltenham trials raceday in February. Musselburgh’s trials day continues to grow in profile and stature and we’d like to thank BHA, Horsemen and sponsors for their continued support.”


Notes to Editors:

1. BHA’s Jump Racing Committee is responsible for maintaining the balance of graded races within the British Jump Racing Pattern. Applications for changes to Pattern and Listed races are assessed on the basis of the quality of runners over the previous three years, the average field size attracted by the race, and the effect of any upgrade on the shape of the British Jump Pattern as a whole.

2. In July last year BHA announced a further expansion of Jumping’s Listed and Pattern programme for Fillies and Mares for 2013/14 season. The full press release can be seen here:

The announcement of the enhanced Mares’ programme for 2012/3 season can be found here:

3. For the 2008/09 season BHA introduced six Listed and Pattern races for Mares, this included three Grade 2 races and three Listed races. For the 2012/13 season the Mares’ programme was further expanded, with seven Listed Novices’ and Juvenile Hurdle races and then for the 2013/14 season an additional three Listed races were added to the programme.

4. The press release outlining the full list of upgrades for the 2013/14 season can be found here: