The European Pattern Committee (EPC) has made a number of changes to flat pattern and listed races in Europe for 2015.
One of the biggest changes involves moving Future Champions Day at Newmarket in mid-October to a week earlier in the calendar and to a Saturday. The six-furlong Middle Park Stakes will be moved away from that card and run instead at the Cambridgeshire meeting in late September.
Below are the main points from the EPC press release:
1. Upgrades and downgrades in 2015
The Committee approved upgrades for five pattern races, including the granting of Group 2 status to three fillies’ races, the Dahlia Stakes at Newmarket, the Ridgewood Pearl Stakes at the Curragh and the Baden Racing Stutenpreis at Baden-Baden. The Baden Meile at Baden-Baden, for three-year-olds and upwards, is also upgraded to Group 2.
The Curragh Stakes in Ireland, a race for two-year-olds held at the racecourse of the same name, is upgraded from Listed to Group 3 and eight new Listed races, including six races for older fillies and mares, have been created for 2015.
The Committee downgraded three Pattern races and nine Listed races following their 2014 renewals. These included the Ribot at Rome which will be downgraded from Group 2 to Group 3 and two other Italian Group 3 races, the Carlo Chiesa and Mario Incisa, both of which will be run as Listed contests in 2015. The Svenskt Derby (Listed) at Jagersgro in Sweden will be downgraded from 2016 on account of entries having already closed for the 2015 renewal of this race.
2. Changes to the autumn two-year-old programme
Reflecting the on-going review of the autumn two-year-old programme by the EPC, a number of changes to the date and distance of some key international races in both Britain and France were approved by the Committee.
It was acknowledged that work on the two-year-old programme would be a staggered process with further initiatives possible for 2016 and 2017.
For 2015, the Middle Park Stakes (Group 1) at Newmarket moves to an earlier slot on 26 September, providing a gap in the calendar of a fortnight prior to the running of the Dewhurst Stakes (Group 1). Newmarket’s Future Champions Day, featuring the Dewhurst, can revert to the weekend of Saturday 10 October 2015. Another race in Newmarket's two-year-old programme, the Zetland Stakes, has had its Listed status reinstated.
In France, the Jean Luc Lagadere (Group 1), run at Longchamp on Arc weekend, will change in distance from 1400m to 1600m. The Criterium International (Group 1) will now be run over the shorter distance of 1400m (reduced from 1600m), and it will be run on the same day (1 November 2015) as the Criterium de Saint-Cloud (Group 1, 2000m) which is being moved a week earlier.
The EPC also approved changes to the dates of a number of Group 2 and Group 3 two-year-old races in France.
3. Quality control/Races at risk of downgrading in 2016
Races that consistently underperform are identified as at risk of being downgraded, after which the host racecourse is put on notice that if the race fails to achieve the required performance rating in 2015, it could be subject to downgrade the following year.
As a consequence of this monitoring, 48 races, comprising 22 Pattern races (seven Group 1s, nine Group 2s and six Group 3s) and 26 Listed races have been identified as being at risk of downgrading in 2016.
4. Italian racing
The Committee was pleased to note some positive progress in relation to the distribution of prize money to both domestic and overseas connections in Italy. An update had been provided from the Italian Ministry for Agriculture. It was noted that:
• All prize money payments owed to overseas connections for Italian Pattern and Listed races run in 2012 and 2013 have now been paid, with the exception of a small number of owners for who it has not been possible to obtain bank account details;
• A commitment has been made for all outstanding payments to be made to domestic owners by the end of 2015. The Italian Ministry is continuing to monitor the progress of these payments to assess their ability to minimize this delay; and
• Prize money payments for Black Type races run in 2014 have been paid within 90 days of the race in accordance with the European Pattern Ground Rules.
The EPC will continue to keep the situation in Italy under review throughout 2015.
5. Weight-for-age scale and middle distance / staying races
A review of the weight-for-age scale had been undertaken by handicappers in Britain and Ireland and their findings were discussed by the International Handicappers in Hong Kong in December. The subject will be given further consideration by the individual member countries of the EPC at the next EPC meeting in June at which a decision will be made on possible implementation for 2016.
The Committee also agreed to give further consideration throughout 2015 to the programme for middle-distance and staying horses, with particular focus on the responsibility to ensure that races and horses in this category continue to thrive across Europe.
Announcing these changes, Brian Kavanagh, Chairman of the European Pattern Committee, said: “I would like to thank all the members of the Committee as I believe the outcome of this year’s meeting has delivered significant progress, while recognising that the autumn two-year-old programme, in particular, could be improved further in the years to come.
"It is a challenge balancing the interests and ambitions of individual jurisdictions with those of other member countries, but there is also recognition that a strong European Pattern brings benefits to all.
“In conjunction with the notable changes announced last year to the European three-year-old sprint programme, I am delighted with what we have been able to achieve and implement for 2015.”
MAJOR TWO-YEAR-OLD RACE CHANGES
*Group 1 Middle Park Stakes (6f) moved away from Future Champions Day (mid-October) to Saturday, September 26th, staying at Newmarket (pending BHA/Newmarket agreement)
*Future Champions Day (Dewhurst, Fillies Mile) to be run a week earlier (from Friday, Oct 16th to Saturday, Oct 10th) (pending BHA/Newmarket agreement)
*Group 1 Jean-Luc Lagadere for two-year-olds on Arc day at Longchamp changed from 1,400m (7f) to 1,600m (1m)
*The one-mile Group 1 Criterium International and 10-furlong Group 1 Criterium de Saint-Cloud (both for two-year-olds) will be run on the same November 1st card.
*Ridgewood Pearl Stakes at the Curragh in May upgraded from Group 3 to Group 2
GROUP 1 RACES AT RISK OF DOWNGRADE
*Prix Royal-Oak at Longchamp
*Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh
*Criterium de Saint-Cloud at Saint-Cloud
*Presidente della Repubblica and Premio Roma at the Capannelle
*Premio Milano and Premio Jockey-Club at San Siro
More on this story in The Irish Field next Saturday. Online from 9.30pm Friday