Italy's major races will see the most significant downgrades among European countries after the European Pattern Committee announced alterations to the 2023 Flat programme Wednesday, as a host of that country's major races are set to be demoted in status.
There will be 827 black-type races run in Europe this year, compared to the 852 in 2022, while group races have been cut by 13 to 412 and listed races drop to 415 from 427.
One of the most significant changes to the Irish programme comes in the case of the seven-furlong 2000 Guineas Trial, run at Leopardstown in April, being upgraded to a Group 3 from listed status. Ireland will also stage a new listed race for fillies and mares aged three years and older over eight furlongs at Navan in June.
Germany will stage two new listed races in 2023, both with a view to strengthening the stayers' black-type programme in that country. The first will be a race for 3-year-olds and older over 3000m at Hannover in July and the other will be a race for 2-year-olds over a distance of 2000m, also at Hannover, and scheduled for October.
However, the Italian racing programme has largely been downgraded, with the G2 Milano and G2 Federico Tesio, changed to Group 3s while the G3 Tudini, G3 Umbria and G3 Sergio Cumani all demoted to listed events.
Speaking about the changes, Jason Morris, the Chairman of the European Pattern Committee, said, “2023 will see a significant reduction in the number of Flat group and listed races staged within Europe, with 25 less black-type races to be staged overall. This reflects the voluntary downgrades that Britain has already announced for this year to aid the competitiveness of their Pattern race programme as part of an ongoing strategic review.
“Downgrades were also applied by the European Pattern Committee to a number of Group 2, Group 3 and listed races under ground rules which strictly enforce the highest standards of international quality control with underperforming races facing automatic demotion.
“At the same time the committee remains keen to encourage the development of the sport in the smaller racing jurisdictions throughout Europe, and Poland will now become the 11th country with a black-type race in 2023 (Britain, France, Germany and Ireland are full EPC members; Italy, Scandinavia (representing Denmark, Norway and Sweden) and Turkey are associate members; while Spain and Poland are emerging nations with one listed race each).”
Boost for Polish and Swedish Programme
While the Italian fixture list has been hit with a number of downgrades, the Eastern European programme in Poland and the Scandinavian division in Sweden has been boosted by a number of upgrades.
Sweden will stage a new black-type race in 2023, with the Challenge S. at Bro Park over seven furlongs for 3-year-olds and older being upgraded to listed status.
The EPC also agreed to upgrade Poland's flagship race, the Wielka Warszawska, to listed status as part of the committee's support of the emerging racing nations in the European and Mediterranean Horseracing Federation. The race will be run at Sluzewiec in Warsaw on the first Sunday of October, over a distance of 2600m for 3-year-olds and older.
Other changes were some alterations in dates for notable Pattern races in Europe in 2023. In France, the G1 Prix Saint-Alary at ParisLongchamp will move from late May to the Poule d'Essai fixture on May 14. The G1 Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud will move back by a week to Saint Cloud's evening fixture on July 8.
In Ireland, the G2 Curragh Cup will move from the Irish Derby weekend in late June to the Irish Oaks weekend on 22 July.
Across Europe, a total of 11 Pattern races have been downgraded in 2023, with a further eight listed races losing that status.
Meanwhile, as previously announced earlier this year, Britain took the decision to voluntarily downgrade 11 black-type (three Pattern races and eight listed races) for 2023, as part of a wider–and ongoing–strategic review of the Pattern and listed programme. A total of 48 Pattern and listed races will be at risk of potential downgrade in 2024 depending on their performance this year.
The full list of changes made to the European programme are as follows:
- G2 Greffulhe downgraded to Group 3
- G2 Hocquart downgraded to Group 3
- G2 Badener Meile downgraded to Group 3
- G3 Von Lotto Hamburg downgraded to listed
- Listed Grosser Preis Von Meravis loses listed status
- Listed Grosser Preis der Sparkasse Hannover loses listed status
- Listed Sparkassenpreis loses listed status
- Listed Dusseldorfer Stutenpreis loses listed status
- G2 Kilboy Estate downgraded to Group 3
- G3 Concorde downgraded to listed
- G2 Milano downgraded to Group 3
- G2 Federico Tesio downgraded to Group 3
- G3 Tudini downgraded to listed
- G3 Sergio Cumani downgraded to listed
- G3 Umbria downgraded to listed
- Listed Criterium Nazionale loses listed status
- Listed Gardone loses listed status
- Listed Bersaglio loses listed status
- Listed Unire loses listed status