Following a request from the Newmarket Racecourse Executive, at its meeting on 7 December 2010, the Racing Committee reviewed the agreed changes to the two year old programme under plans for the creation of a new British Champions’ Day. The Committee specifically looked at the revised timing of the Middle Park Stakes and the alternative option of running the Middle Park at the fixture at Newmarket on the 24 September.
Analysis had been undertaken of those horses which took part in the Mill Reef before running in the Middle Park and those which ran in the Middle Park on the way to the Dewhurst since 1988. No horse has won the Middle Park and Dewhurst since Diesis in 1982.
Mill Reef-Middle Park Runners Since 1988
- 26 horses have run in both the Middle Park and the Mill Reef since 1988, an average of 1.13 horses per year
- In six of those 23 years, no horse ran in both races
- Seven winners of the Mill Reef have then run in the Middle Park, four of which won the Middle Park too
- Additionally, one other placed horse in the Mill Reef went on to win the Middle Park
- 14 of the 26 horses which ran in both races were placed in the first four in the Middle Park
Middle Park-Dewhurst Runners Since 1988
- 18 horses have run in both the Middle Park and the Dewhurst since 1988, an average of 0.78 horses per year
- In nine of those 23 years, no horse ran in both races
- Six winners of the Middle Park have run in the Dewhurst; none of those horses then won the Dewhurst
- Additionally, one other placed horse in the Middle Park went on to win the Dewhurst
- Nine of the 18 horses which ran in both races were placed in the first four in the Dewhurst
Mill Reef-Middle Park-Dewhurst Runners Since 1988
- Only two horses ran in all three races
- Zafeen, in 2002, won the Mill Reef, was fifth in the Middle Park and fourth in the Dewhurst
- Dark Angel, in 2007, won both the Mill Reef and Middle Park, but was only ninth in the Dewhurst
It is evident that there is a strong link between the Mill Reef and Middle Park and, if the two races were to be only seven days apart, the complexion of both races would be altered permanently, with horses having, perhaps, to tackle the Middle Park with less experience than would previously have been the case.
On the other hand, there is a less obvious link between the Middle Park and Dewhurst, and recent history shows that Middle Park winners have a far less impressive strike rate in the Dewhurst than Mill Reef winners do in the Middle Park.
However, 2010 certainly showed that a great deal of publicity can be gained from having the Middle Park winner, Dream Ahead, participate in the Dewhurst, although he ran below expectations.
Having considered all of the information, including NTF consultation with senior members, the Committee concluded that moving the Middle Park Stakes to the weekend after the Mill Reef would have a more damaging impact on the two-year-old pattern than the original proposals that were presented to them of running the Middle Park on the same day as the Dewhurst.
Explaining the decision, Adrian Grazebrook, acting Chairman of the Racing Committee, said:
“The principles and details of the end of season race programme have of course been debated at length over the past year by both the Flat Racing Sub Committee and the Racing Committee, which includes representatives from the RCA, ROA, NTF, TBA and PJA. We were asked to revisit the scheduling of the Middle Park, at the request of the Newmarket Executive, although we just had the two options to work with.
“The Racing Committee concluded that, looking at the pattern of two-year-old opportunities, running the Middle Park on the same day as the Dewhurst was, on balance, preferable to running it a week after the Mill Reef. The Middle Park and Dewhurst are both Group 1 events and our starting point was to test whether either would be seriously damaged if they were to be run on the same day. However it became clear that the linkage between the Mill Reef and the Middle Park has historically been substantially more significant than between the Middle Park and the Dewhurst.
“The Committee fully appreciates and understands the concerns of racing professionals and racegoers about the autumn two-year-old programme in general, and the timing of these hugely important races in particular. It will be this Committee’s role to monitor all the rearranged races and to do our best to see that they retain their significance and quality.”
Trainer Chris Wall, one of the NTF’s representatives on the Racing Committee, said:
“The NTF consulted with 16 senior trainers and three quarters were in favour of the Middle Park and Dewhurst Stakes being run on the same day. It was felt that there was a much stronger link between the Mill Reef and the Middle Park Stakes than there was between the Middle Park and Dewhurst Stakes which are Championship races in their own right. These views were made known to the Racing Committee.”
Michael Prosser, Director of Racing at Newmarket Racecourses, said:
“We were keen for the BHA Racing Committee to review the 2011 two-year-old programme to ensure the changes for next year are the best step for racing and its participants.
“We’re pleased to support the decision by the representatives of owners, trainers, breeders, jockeys, racecourses and racing’s governing body that the right call had been made originally.
“The Middle Park has been recognised as a championship race in its own right and will form part of an exciting card alongside the Dewhurst on Future Champions’ Day at Newmarket’s Rowley Mile next year.
“Future Champions’ Day will be a prime international showcase of the best juvenile horses, providing us with some great racing and also real insight into horses with the potential to win top races the next year.”