Update from the BHA’s Flat Pattern Committee

13 Feb 2024 BHA Features Racing/Fixtures

The British Horseracing Authority’s (BHA) Flat Pattern Committee has today confirmed changes to the Flat Pattern and Listed race programme for 2024, following ratification by the European Pattern Committee.

With a view to consolidating the significant changes instigated in 2023, which focused primarily on a reduction in the number of Group 3 and Listed races, and following a review of those interventions, the Flat Pattern Committee has approved further refinement to Britain’s black type programme.  As such, the following races will not form part of the Pattern and Listed programme for 2024:

•    Group 3 Sovereign Stakes, Salisbury (8f, 3yo+, August)
•    Listed Ganton Stakes, York (8f, 3yo+, June)
•    Listed Scarbrough Stakes, Doncaster (5f, 2yo+, September)

Notable increases to minimum values for Britain’s Pattern and Listed races in tandem with the industry’s launch of Premier Racedays in 2024 has been welcomed by the committee, with significant uplifts at most levels which is hoped will help bolster the production and retention of high-quality horses in Britain.

Other changes to note include alterations to the race conditions for two of Britain’s black type 2yo races. In the Listed Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot (7f, 2yos), horses will no longer be eligible to qualify via their dam’s performance, and the race will return to a stallion only qualification as the race was prior to 2019 (sire must have won over 10f+). The change was made following a review by the Flat Pattern Committee of the effectiveness of the race in terms of producing quality, embryonic middle-distance/staying types for the future. Also, in the Group 3 Acomb Stakes at York’s Ebor Festival (7f, 2yos) the win restriction has been removed from the race conditions to boost the potential pool of eligible horses for this race.

Two races will have new race handles in 2024, with the Group 3 Pinnacle Stakes at Haydock Park (12f, 4yo+ fillies & mares, early June) renamed as the Lester Piggott Stakes, and the Listed Ben Marshall Stakes at Nottingham (8f, 3yo+, late October) will now be known as the Robin Hood Stakes.

Unfortunately, the European Pattern Committee could not agree unanimous support for the upgrading to Group 1 status of either the City Of York Stakes at the Ebor Festival or the Long Distance Cup on British Champions Day, despite strong applications for both of these very successful races, which offer considerable levels of prize money (£500,000).  Britain’s desire for a domestic Group 1 race over seven furlongs has been a long-term, well-publicised ambition, so it is with great disappointment that the race has not been upgraded for 2024. The Flat Pattern Committee will consider the performance of both races in 2024 ahead of a possible further application in 12 months’ time, which it is hoped can be supported by the Member Countries of the European Pattern Committee.

In 2025, three of Britain’s Pattern races could in theory be at potential risk of downgrade depending on their performance in 2024. Those races are the Group 1 Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot (6f, 3yo, June), which could be subject to a majority vote, the Group 2 Temple Stakes at Haydock Park (5f, 3yo+, May) and the Group 3 Chester Vase (12f, 3yo, May).

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

“After more than a decade of building towards Britain’s first 7f Group 1 in the City Of York Stakes, with the open encouragement of the EPC, the race achieved the required rating parameter in 2023. Sadly, however, it seemed the committee could not support this upgrade unanimously at this time. We remain hopeful of working with the committee to demonstrate why our ambition would be of collective benefit to the European Pattern, in the same way as we will for the Long Distance Cup on QIPCO’s British Champions Day in order for that too to become a long-awaited and much-deserved Group 1 race.

“We in Britain continue to believe that European racing is stronger on the worldwide stage when we work together.

“The Pattern Committees have much to contribute within the wider strategy for the sport, particularly in terms of incentivising the continued production and retention of sufficient high-class horses to uphold our place on the international stage.  The particular focus on the middle-distance and staying horses must continue – an area which the FPC has helped champion for some time as has been highlighted in the past.

“Our Pattern remains strong, but there are some distinct signs of fraying in certain areas and the industry needs to address these with some urgency.”

About the Flat Pattern Committee

The BHA’s Flat Pattern Committee advises and makes recommendations to the BHA Board on matters relating to improving the programme of Flat Pattern and Listed races.

Flat Pattern Committee members:

Lydia Hislop (C)
Emma Berry
Gina Bryce
Simon Crisford
William Haggas
Richard Norris
Rishi Persad
Maddy Playle
Ruth Quinn
Julian Richmond-Watson
Nick Smith
Nicholas Wrigley

For more information, see the Committees page of the BHA website.