Saint-Alary Loses G1 Tag as Europe Drops 12 Stakes Races

The Prix Saint-Alary will be run as a Group 2 in 2024 | Scoop Dyga

Twelve fewer black-type races will be run in Europe in 2024 following the approval of the programme by the European Pattern Committee (EPC) which sounded a note of caution regarding “the reported increasing exports of quality horses overseas”.

France's Prix Saint-Alary will has been downgraded from Group 1 to Group 2 status and is one of five Group races to have been demoted, while Britain's G3 Sovereign S., traditionally run at Salisbury, will not be staged.

In Ireland, the Salsabil S. has been upgraded from a Listed race to a Group 3, and a new Listed contest has been introduced at Gowran Park in late July, which is to be run over 12 furlongs and is for three-year-olds only.

Denmark is to stage a new black-type race after Klampenborg's Golden Mile for three-years-olds was upgraded to Listed status.

The EPC ratified a total of 826 black-type races, down from 838 in 2023, comprising 415 Group races (418 in 2023) and 411 Listed races (420). 

 EPC chair Jason Morris said, “This year will see another contraction in the number of Pattern and Listed races to be staged throughout Europe, with the total number having declined from 852 races in 2022 to 826 in 2024. The European Pattern Committee continues to enforce the most stringent international quality control measures so that the racing and breeding industries can have the utmost confidence in the quality of European black type. 

“However, this also reflects a worrying overall decline in the ratings of European black-type races, with an increasing number of races coming under review and many three-year-old races in particular struggling to achieve their required parameters. The reported increasing exports of quality horses overseas is of concern to the EPC, and the major European racing nations are committed to working together to ensure the continued production and retention of sufficient high-class horses to sustain our domestic and international programmes, with a particular focus on the middle distance and staying race areas.”

Downgraded Races for 2024

France

    Group 1 Prix Saint-Alary downgraded to Group 2

Germany

    Listed Grosser Preis von Rossman loses Listed status

    Listed Grosser Preis der VGH Versicherungen loses Listed status

    Listed Bwin Sommerpreis loses Listed status

Ireland

    Group 3 Gladness downgraded to Listed

    Listed Patton loses Listed status

Italy

    Group 2 Premio Presidente della Repubblica downgraded to Group 3

    Group 3 Premio Carlo d'Alessio downgraded to Listed

    Listed Pisa loses Listed status 

    Listed Regione Toscana loses Listed status

    Listed Emanuele Filiberto loses Listed status

    Listed Tadolina loses Listed status

    Listed Criterium Varesino Mem Virginio Curti loses Listed status

    Listed M.Se Ippolito Fassati di Balzola loses Listed status

Sweden

    Listed Jagersro Sprint loses Listed status

Turkey

    Group 2 Bosphorus Cup downgraded to Group 3

There have also been some adjustments to notable Pattern races. In France, the G1 Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud will move one week earlier, reverting to its traditional slot at Saint-Cloud's fixture on June 30, as will the G2 Prix Eugene Adam. Saint-Cloud has also gained the G1 Prix Royal-Oak from ParisLongchamp.

Both German Guineas will be run nine days earlier, with the G2 German 2000 Guineas scheduled for May 20 and the G2 German 1000 Guineas to be run on May 26. The G2 Grosser Preis der Badischen Wirtschaft will be pushed back to June 2.

In Britain, there have been alterations to the race conditions for two black-type juvenile races. For the Listed Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot, horses will no longer be eligible to qualify via their dam's performance. The race reverts to a stallion-only qualification, as was the case prior to 2019. The horse's sire must have won over at least 10 furlongs. In the G3 Acomb S., the win restriction has been removed from the race conditions to boost the potential pool of eligible horses. 

There will also be two changes to race titles in Britain in 2024: Haydock's G3 Pinnacle S. will be renamed as the Lester Piggott S., and the Listed Ben Marshall S. at Nottingham will become the Robin Hood S.

'At Risk' Races for 2025

 A total of 42 Pattern and Listed races have been classified as at risk of a potential downgrade in 2025, including the G1 Commonwealth Cup, run over six furlongs for three-year-olds only at Royal Ascot.  The breakdown by country is as follows:

Britain – 3
France – 6
Germany – 7
Ireland – 5
Italy – 20
Turkey – 1

Britain's Dismay at Group 1 Veto 

In Britain, “notable increases to minimum values” have been announced for Pattern and Listed races, while the ongoing strategic review of the programme has led to the voluntary deletion of three black-type races for 2024 – the G3 Sovereign S., York's Listed Ganton S. and the Listed Scarborough S., which is run at Doncaster. This follows the removal of 11 Group 3 and Listed races in 2023.

The BHA Flat Pattern Committee had sought upgrades to Group 1 status for the City Of York S. at the Ebor Festival and the Long Distance Cup on British Champions Day, both of which were turned down by the EPC.

“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,” said Ruth Quinn, the BHA's director of international racing and development.

“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.”

She continued, “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.”

As already noted, the G1 Commonwealth Cup has been placed on the watch list for a potential downgrade, depending on its performance this year, along with the G2 Temple S. at Haydock Park and the G3 Chester Vase.

France Frustrated by Saint-Alary Demotion

Despite its move forward in the calendar last year to “Poules d'Essai Sunday”,  which brought about an upturn in the number of runners to 10 from six the previous year, the Prix Saint-Alary obtained a rating of just 107.75 in 2023. From 2021 to 2023 its average was 108.42, which is below the required rating of 111 for a Group 1 for three-year-old fillies.

In a press release from France Galop, deputy managing director Henri Pouret said, “The demotion of the Prix Saint-Alary to Group 2 is particularly frustrating but it falls within the framework of the quality control rules established by the EPC. This event should lead us to reflect broadly on the subject of Listed and Group races which have not reached the required level in recent years. To this end, the President of France Galop, Guillaume de Saint-Seine, recently decided to create a specific Committee for French Group and Listed races.”

 

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