European Pattern Committee announces changes to 2015 sprint programme

horses2The European Pattern Committee (EPC) has announced a string of changes to the sprint programme from 2015, designed to address the current lack of opportunities for high-class three-year-old sprinters.

The measures include upgrades to races in Britain, France, Germany and Ireland, as well as the introduction of a new Group 1 three-year-old only sprint over six furlongs at Royal Ascot.

At January’s EPC meeting, the committee identified the programme as an area of weakness within the European Pattern, having previously undertaken comparable steps in 2004 when strengthening the races for older fillies and mares.

The proposals were developed in consultation with members and the revised programme was discussed at a specially convened meeting last month, subsequently receiving the required unanimous approval of all member countries in order to implement the upgrades.

Brian Kavanagh, Chairman of the EPC, said:

The strategic objective in reviewing the sprint programme was to implement measures that will have a long-term, positive impact, delivering meaningful benefits both for European racing and for the European horse population.

“For horses performing at every distance other than sprinting, the European Pattern provides a three-year-old only programme until mid summer, when the Classic generation is considered ready to take on the older horses. The Committee believes it is no coincidence that when it comes to milers and middle distance horses, Europe can genuinely lay claim to having the best in the world, however, there is a definite lack of top class European three-year-old sprinters.

“The measures we are taking to address the situation are two-fold.  Firstly, we have introduced a limited number of Pattern races restricted to three-year-olds in the first half of the European season, culminating in a new Group 1 race at Royal Ascot, and secondly, we have sought to deliver a more balanced overall sprint programme, providing better opportunities and greater incentives to run high class sprinters in Europe. This includes the upgrade of a number of races including the British Champions Sprint on QIPCO British Champions Day to Group 1, and the Flying Five on Irish Champions Weekend to Group 2.

“We acknowledge the steps we have taken are bold, some may consider them radical.  However, the Committee believes they are warranted and that they will be of considerable benefit to European horseracing and breeding.”

The new status of existing races, as well as the additional races approved by EPC, is as follows:

Month Racecourse Race name Distance Status Country
April Chantilly Sigy 6f Group 3 3yo FR
April Ascot Pavilion 6f Group 3 3yo GB
May Maisons-Laffitte Texanita 5½f Group 3 3yo FR
May Curragh Greenlands 6f Group 2 as 4+ IRE
May Haydock Park Sandy Lane 6f Group 2 3yo GB
June Naas Lacken 6f Group 3 3yo IRE
June Royal Ascot New race 6f Group 1 3yo GB
July Curragh Sapphire 5f Group 2 IRE
August Baden-Baden Golden Peitsche 6f Group 2 GER
September Curragh Flying Five 5f Group 2 IRE
October Ascot British Champions Sprint 6f Group 1 GB


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