Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) today announced a number of enhancements to the Irish Flat Pattern and Listed race programme for the 2016 season.
The principal changes concern the further improvement of the staying programme, with the Curragh Cup at the Curragh on Irish Derby weekend being upgraded from Group 3 to Group 2, and the upgrade to Listed status of Down Royal’s Her Majesty Plate (won in 2015 by Order Of St George) which will give a better spacing of opportunities over longer distances between the Curragh Cup and the Irish St Leger Trial (Ballycullen). The change of condition of the Challenge Stakes to fillies only will give another opportunity to middle and longer distance fillies following on from the successful initial editions in 2015 of the Noblesse Stakes at Cork in early April and Bluebell Stakes at Naas in mid-October.
Additionally, the Flame Of Tara Stakes staged at the Curragh in late August will be upgraded to Group 3. This race is ideally positioned in the both the domestic and international calendar and provides a first Group 3 race for Irish 2yo fillies over the distance of one mile.
Confirming the Pattern race enhancements, HRI’s Director of Racing Jason Morris commented:
"HRI is delighted to have secured European agreement for all our proposed Irish upgrades in 2016. The promotion of the Flame Of Tara to Group 3 status and the addition of a new fillies Listed race over 14 furlongs will provide further encouragement to owners and trainers to put high quality fillies and mares in training in Ireland and to carry on racing them here beyond their three-year-old careers.”
"The promotion of the Curragh Cup to Group 2 status, along with Her Majesty’s Plate becoming Down Royal’s first Listed race on the Flat, reinforces HRI’s commitment to improve the Irish staying programme following the upgrading of the Vintage Crop Stakes and creation of the Loughbrown Stakes in recent years. The promotion to Group 2 of the Minstrel Stakes provides a further boost to the Irish Oaks weekend programme, following the addition of the Group 2 Sapphire Stakes in 2015.”
Pattern Race Changes for 2016
The following Irish Pattern race changes have been approved by the European Pattern Committee for 2016:
Upgrade from Listed to Group 3
|28th August 2016||Curragh||Flame Of Tara||8f 2yo fillies|
Upgrade from Group 3 to 2
|26th June 2016||Curragh||Curragh Cup||14f 3yo+|
|17th July 2016||Curragh||Minstrel||7f 3yo+|
Creation of New Listed Race
|Mid-May||TBC||New Race||6f 3yo only|
|22nd July 2016||Down Royal||Her Majesty’s Plate||14f 3yo+|
Listed Race change of Conditions
|14th July 2016||Leopardstown||Challenge||14f 3yo+ fillies only|