Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) has today welcomed a number of enhancements to the Irish Pattern and Listed programme for the 2018 Flat season which have been approved by the European Pattern Committee.
The most significant change sees Ireland gain a Group 1 sprint for older horses for the first time ever with the promotion of the Derrinstown Stud Flying Five Stakes at the Curragh on Longines Irish Champions Weekend. The Flying Five sits perfectly within the European calendar between the Nunthorpe at York and the Prix de l’Abbaye at Longchamp, and will be just the fourth Group 1 sprint over five furlongs in Europe. Its prizemoney will be increased from €300,000 to €350,000 for 2018.
Jason Morris, Director of Racing at Horse Racing Ireland, said: “We are delighted to have secured an upgrade for the Flying Five as it has been a long-held ambition of HRI to create a first Group 1 sprint opportunity for older horses in Ireland and we have strategically increased prizemoney for the race over the past few years with a view to improving its quality. This policy has now reaped dividends with horses of the calibre of Sole Power and Caravaggio winning the race in recent years and we will now have a true championship sprint event in which to showcase the top Irish and international sprinters at the Curragh on Longines Irish Champions Weekend.”
As well as the addition of a sixth Group 1 race to the two-day programme, Longines Irish Champions Weekend will also see further significant enhancements with the promotion of the Willis Tower Watson Champions Juvenile Turf (registered as the Golden Fleece) at Leopardstown from Group 3 to 2 status and the conversion of the Leopardstown 2yo fillies’ maiden into a 2yo winners Listed race for fillies (with restrictive conditions to distinguish it from the Moyglare Stud Stakes).
In addition, there will be further improvements to the Irish staying race programme. The Stanerra Stakes, to be run over 14f at Leopardstown on July 12 will be upgraded to Group 3 as part of an on-going European project to improve the programme of black type staying races for fillies and mares. Furthermore, there will be a new Listed race for 4yo & up fillies & mares over 14f at Gowran Park on May 9. The programme for younger stayers has also been enhanced with a new 3yo only Listed race over 14f at Leopardstown on July 26.
The fourth new Irish Listed race to be added for 2018 will be a 5½f sprint for 3yo only fillies to be run on May 7 at Naas, the first such race (Listed sprint restricted to 3yo fillies) to be run in Europe.
Other changes approved by the European Pattern Committee for 2018 see a change in distance for the 2,000 Guineas Trial (Listed) at Leopardstown on April 14 from 8f to 7f, the Listed Patton Stakes at Dundalk being moved from April to March 2 and increased in distance from 7f to 8f, where the €75,000 contest will form part of the Road to the Kentucky Derby European Series.