Progress continues on stayers’ project following further Pattern race upgrades

26 Jan 2018 BHA Features Racecourse Racing/Fixtures

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) together with British racing is pleased to announce further progress on the project to safeguard the staying horse following the most recent meeting of the European Pattern Committee (EPC).

As part of the project, the Lillie Langtry Stakes at Goodwood has been upgraded to Group 2 status with the March Stakes at the same course upgraded to become a Group 3.

York’s Listed Silver Cup has also been upgraded to Group 3, and the course will host a new Group 3 over 14 furlongs for older fillies and mares in May called the Brontë Cup. York’s Listed Grand Cup has been moved from May to mid-June to allow for the new contest.

The upgrades mark the continued progress of the industry-wide project to ensure the continued production of quality stayers which is being led by the BHA.

This follows on from the exceptional upgrades of the Goodwood Cup to Group 1 and Queen’s Vase to Group 2 for 2017 and a raft of grassroots initiatives and significant commitment from the BHA’s Development Fund for stayers also announced last year.

Despite concerted efforts on the part of British Racing, it was not possible to secure an upgrade to Group 1 status for the British Champions Long Distance Cup on QIPCO British Champions Day for 2018.

Ruth Quinn, Director of International Racing and Racing Development at the BHA, said:

“The Pattern upgrades announced today show we continue to be absolutely committed to our project to protect and enhance the programme designed to attract and encourage quality horses with an aptitude for stamina.

“Following a year of good progress in 2017 and a significant commitment from the BHA’s Development Fund for 2018, our current focus on boosting the programme for staying fillies and mares, and for three-year-olds, has been bolstered by the EPC’s support of the upgraded and new contests at Goodwood and York.

“The EPC weren’t able to reach a consensus regarding the Long Distance Cup at Ascot which is disappointing, but the race had another excellent renewal in 2017 and it remains a top priority for us to get the race the Group 1 status the ratings show it deserves, in the near future.”

Alex Eade, General Manager at Goodwood Racecourse, said:

“Goodwood are delighted by the recent upgrades and the continued progression of our race programme that it represents. Perhaps the most important point is that, of the additional £500,000 we have put into prize money this year, the majority has gone to our grassroots races.

“Our top end upgrades are extremely important for our international competitiveness and to provide a shop window for British Racing but they also allow us to generate the funds to invest in our commitment to providing a balanced programme that gives owners of all shapes and sizes the opportunities and rewards they deserve.”

William Derby, Chief Executive and Clerk of the Course at York Racecourse, said:

“We are pleased to be staging two additional Group 3 contests at York in 2018, further signposting the ongoing investment in our race programme. York is proud to be staging a record number of Group races in 2018, with 19 such high end contests and a renewed focus on the stayers.

“The upgrade of the John Smith’s Silver Cup is a reflection of the strength of a race that has featured many well-known stayers in the past, with Royal winners (Free Agent) as well as Ebor & Melbourne Cup contenders.

“The introduction of the new £90,000 Group 3 Brontë Cup on Saturday 26th May  over 14 furlongs is an exciting opportunity for fillies and mares and means that York will be able to frame its race programme to offer a Pattern race on sixteen of our eighteen racedays.”

Further upgrades

Also confirmed at the meeting were upgrades to Chester’s Huxley Stakes to Group 2 status, Newcastle’s Hoppings Stakes to Group 3 status and Epsom Down’s Derby Trial to Listed level.

A new Listed contest over seven furlongs for older fillies and mares has also been agreed which will take place at Chelmsford City Racecourse on 21 June, the first Black Type contest for the racecourse.

The creation of a Pattern race for fillies over 10 furlongs by upgrading the Listed Hoppings Stakes marks a significant step following on from the major review which the BHA undertook in 2015 relating to the landscape for fillies within British Racing.

One of the recommendations emanating was to, over time, improve the fillies’ Black Type programme in certain areas. Last year saw the Princess Royal at Newmarket over 12 furlongs upgraded to Group 3 on the back of the review, but there is now another contest to sit alongside the other Pattern races open to older fillies and mares in Britain over 10 furlongs, which are the Group 2 Middleton at York and the Group 1 Nassau at Goodwood.

Ruth Quinn added:

“The Hoppings is a consistent high performer in terms of ratings and is fully deserving of the upgrade.  We would hope, over the next few years, to be able to introduce at least one other Group 3 race into the 10 furlong fillies’ programme, sited in the second half of the season.”

“The EPC Ground Rules continue to be significantly more stringent than any others around the rest of the world.  An effective promotion and relegation system is something which the BHA and the Flat Pattern Committee strongly supports.  The programme of Pattern and Listed races in Britain is performing very well however, and naturally we are pleased to see that, whilst there is a healthy number of races in Europe on the list for possible future downgrade by the EPC, none of those races takes place in Britain.”

“The EPC had recommended that Britain should ideally seek to no longer stage any handicaps as Listed races; a racetype which none of the other EPC countries features.  The number of Listed handicaps we stage has decreased over a period of time, with only five currently remaining.  Other than the European Free Handicap at Newmarket, which the EPC accepted has a unique history to it, the remaining four races will either become weight-for-age Listed events in 2018 or be converted into non-Listed handicaps.”

Andy Waitt, Clerk of the Course at Chelmsford City Racecourse, said:

“We are delighted that the governing body has seen fit to allocate this Listed race to Chelmsford City which we feel is another major milestone for the course as Chelmsford continues to establish itself as an integral part of British Racing.

“We thank the BHA and European Pattern Committee for recognising our commitment to quality racing.”

Andrew Morris, General Manager at Chester Racecourse, said:

“We are delighted with the EPC’s decision to upgrade the classification of the Huxley Stakes to a Group 2 race. This will be the first ever Group 2 run on the historic Roodee and will help form the centrepiece of the re-energised Boodles May Festival.”

James Armstrong, Clerk of the Course at Newcastle Racecourse, said:

“We’re absolutely delighted with the European Pattern Committee’s decision to upgrade the Hoppings Stakes.

“It has performed really well over the last few years, and has enjoyed excellent support from a number of trainers.  Recent winners include Hugo Palmer’s Covert Love and Roger Varian’s Nezwaah, the first winner of the race on tapeta in 2016, who went on to win the Pretty Polly Stakes at The Curragh later that year.

“An upgrade to Group 3 status will only help the race develop further and it will be an excellent boost for the Northumberland Plate Festival.”

Andrew Cooper, Clerk of the Course at Epsom Downs Racecourse, said:

“We are delighted to see Epsom’s Investec Derby Trial upgraded to Listed status. It reflects the resurgence of the race in recent years and the high standard of horse the race now attracts; most recently we saw Cracksman start his 2017 season by winning the race and go on to become the highest rated horse in Europe.”

Notes to editors:

1. The EPC release announcing the full details of the recent meeting can be viewed here.

2. You can read more about the grassroots initiatives for stayers here, and the BHA’s commitment from the Development Fund here.

3. Summary of changes to British Pattern for 2018:

Upgraded from Group 3 to Group 2
11/05/18       Huxley                                       Chester                       4yo+                  10f
02/08/18       Lillie Langtry                              Goodwood                   3yo+ f                14f

Upgraded from Listed to Group 3
14/07/18       Silver Cup                                  York                            4yo+ (from 3+)  14f
29/06/18       Hoppings                                   Newcastle                   3yo+ f                10f
25/08/18       March                                        Goodwood                  3yo                    14f

New Group 3 Race
26/05/18       Brontë Cup                                York                            4yo+ f                14f

New Listed Races
21/06/18       TBC                                          Chelmsford City             4yo+ f                7f
25/04/18       Investec Derby Trial                  Epsom Downs               3yo                  10f

New race date
16/06/18       Grand Listed Cup                       York                             4yo+                  14f
from 26/05/18

Removal of Listed status
18/05/17       Hambleton Handicap                  York, GB                     4yo+                  8f
21/06/17       Sandringham Handicap              Royal Ascot, GB          3yo f                  8f

4. The BHA’S Flat Pattern Committee is as follows:

Adrian Grazebrook (Chair)
Andrew Balding
Andy Clifton
Simon Crisford
Philip Freedman
William Haggas
Lydia Hislop
Ruth Quinn
Julian Richmond-Watson
Amanda Skiffington
Nick Smith
Nicholas Wrigley