Irish Flat Pattern programme gets a revamp
HORSE Racing Ireland has announced a number of changes to the Irish Flat Pattern programme for 2013 which includes two races being upgraded.
The races approved by the European Pattern Committee to be run at a higher level this year are the Kilboy Estate Stakes at the Curragh on July 21, which will now be run as a Group Two race instead of a Group Three, while the Icon Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Trial will be run as a Group Three rather than a Listed race on September 7.
The Royal Whip at the Curragh on August 11 and Leopardstown's 2000 Guineas Trial on April 14 have, however, been downgraded from a Group Two to a Group Three and a Group Three to Listed respectively.
Curragh manager Paul Hensey said: "The support and commitment by our sponsors Mr. and Mrs. Shane Ryan since the inaugural running of the Kilboy Estate Stakes in 2004 has ensured we have been able to attract quality runners, and we are delighted this has been recognised by the European Pattern Committee.
"The newly upgraded Group Two contest will now take centre stage as the feature race on Day Two of the Darley Irish Oaks weekend on Sunday July 21, with the Darley Irish Oaks moving to a Saturday late afternoon/early evening card (on 20th July) for the first time."
Pat Keogh, Leopardstown's chief executive, said: "The promotion of the ICON Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf Trial (registered as the Golden Fleece) is a fantastic boost for Irish Champions Day at Leopardstown on Saturday September 7.
"The top quality card will now feature two Group One races and two Group Three races, with two of these contests Breeders' Cup affiliated races.
"The race's promotion is fully justified on the basis of the quality of the runners, with the 2012 renewal featuring two horses, Battle of Marengo and Trading Leather, which are prominent in this year's Derby betting."
HRI also announced an increase to the fillies' allowance which will rise from 3lb to 5lb following an analysis of all fillies in Listed races for the past three years.
HRI's director of racing Jason Morris said: "HRI is committed to encouraging the greater participation and retention of mares for racing and then breeding in Ireland, with a prime focus always on trying to improve quality.
"The move to increase the fillies' allowance by 2lb in Listed races should further this objective.
"Following on from the many initiatives already being undertaken in the National Hunt sphere, this change will provide a significant boost to the Flat breeding industry and will hopefully encourage more owners, both domestically and internationally, to put fillies in training in Ireland."