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BHA frustration as Long Distance Cup remains at Group 2 level

Stradivarius and Frankie Dettori win the 2018 Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup at Ascot
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Ascot's hopes of gaining Group 1 status for the Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup have been dashed once more by the European Pattern Committee, but director of racing Nick Smith accepts the reasoning and insists it will not detract from the race itself, or Champions Day as a whole.

The Long Distance Cup has been won by four Gold Cup winners since Champions Day was created in 2011, with Fame And Glory and Rite Of Passage successful in the first two years when it carried Group 3 status, and Order Of St George and Stradivarius taking the most recent renewals at Group 2 level.

Group 1 status has long been an aspiration, but while BHA director of international racing Ruth Quinn said the failure to secure Group 1 status remained "an ongoing frustration" and pledged to continue to work with France Galop to try to find a way through it, Smith can understand why it has not been forthcoming so far.

"It's not at all surprising," he said. "As part of the Pattern Committee I'm fully aware of the rules that govern it and there are races close to the Long Distance Cup that have similar conditions. We probably need to have a look in a more holistic sense at how the programme for stayers comes together in the autumn, rather than look at this race in isolation.

"If you weren't seeing the likes of Stradivarius and Order Of St George competing it would be a bigger issue, but with the prize-money on offer and no penalties we're consistently getting the best horses."

The Long Distance Cup takes place on the weekend before the Prix Royal-Oak and a fortnight after the Prix du Cadran, and consistently attracts stronger fields despite its lesser status.

Smith added: "Of course we want it to be Group 1 and we'll continue to apply for it, but Champions Day and Ascot have been huge beneficiaries of the Pattern and it would be inappropriate to take a hostile stance over one race, and there are perfectly sound grounds for their decision. The European Pattern is doing the right job."

Expert Eye: Breeders' Cup Mile victory helped to get the City of York Stakes upgraded

While Ascot's application was unsuccessful, there was good news for York, with the City of York Stakes, won last year by subsequent Breeders' Cup winner Expert Eye, promoted to Group 2 and a hint that in due course it might be upgraded again.

York chairman Lord Grimthorpe, also racing manager to Expert Eye's owner Prince Khalid Abdullah, was delighted by the news and said: "York takes real pride in the quality of racing it offers, so it's tremendous news the Sky Bet City of York is to be upgraded and so become the fifth Group 2 at our feature festival. The ongoing investment in prize-money sees the race get a more than ten per cent increase, to a total value of £200,000."

The BHA accepts the race's promotion "may cause some short-term imbalance" in the seven-furlong pattern because of its proximity to Newbury's Hungerford Stakes. However, it is felt the growing success of the Ebor meeting, and the timing of the City of York within the Flat season, means it is the most likely candidate to become Britain's first Group 1 over seven furlongs, ahead of the Group 2 Lennox Stakes.

There was also good news for Newmarket, whose Pride Stakes and Zetland Stakes both had their status raised from Listed to Group 3 level.


2019 EUROPEAN PATTERN UPGRADES
& DOWNGRADES

Upgraded from Group 2 to Group 1

05/10/19

Royallieu

Longchamp, France

3yo+ f

1m6f

Upgraded from Group 3 to Group 2

28/06/19

Balanchine

Curragh, Ireland

2yo f

6f

24/08/19

City of York

York, GB

3yo+

7f

20/10/19

Dormello

San Siro, Milan, Italy

2yo f

1m

Upgraded from Listed to Group 3

19/05/19

Juvenile Fillies’ Sprint

Naas, Ireland

2yo f

6f

11/10/19

Pride

Newmarket, GB

3yo+ f

1m2f

12/10/19

Zetland

Newmarket, GB

2yo

1m2f

New Listed races

24/03/19

TBC

Naas, Ireland

4yo+

1m2f

02/05/19

TBC   

Chelmsford, GB

3yo f

6f

06/05/19

TBC

Curragh, Ireland

2yo

5f

04/08/19

TBC

Deauville, France

3yo

6f

09/08/19

TBC

Clairefontaine, France

4yo+

1m1f

Downgraded from Group 1

04/11/18

Lydia Tesio

Capannelle, Italy

3yo+ f

1m2f

Downgraded from Group 3

15/07/18

Zawawi Cup

Jagersro, Sweden

3yo+

6f

Downgraded from Listed

16/12/18

Sablonnets

Deauville, France

2yo

7½f

28/10/18

Neue Bult Pokal

Hannover, Germany

3yo+

1m

20/05/18

Rochestown

Naas, Ireland

2yo

5f

12/10/18

Carlingford

Dundalk, Ireland

3yo+

1m3f

29/04/18

Carlo Chiesa

Capannelle, Italy

3yo+ f

6f

26/08/18

Norsk Derby

Ovrevoll, Norway

3yo

1m4f

23/07/18

Grand Prix d’Avenches

Avenches, Switzerland

3yo+

1m4f


GROUP 1 AND GROUP 2 RACES
AT RISK OF DOWNGRADE IN 2020

Races listed by country, date, race name, racecourse,
age/sex and distance (* denotes Group 1)

France

01/07/18

Malleret

Saint-Cloud

3yo f

1m4f

15/07/18

Eugene d'Adam

Maisons-Laffitte

3yo

1m2f

Germany

10/06/18

Diana Trial

Hoppegarten

3yo f

1m2f

08/07/18

Deutsches Derby*

Hamburg

3yo c&f

1m4f

27/08/18

Goldene Pietsch

Baden-Baden

3yo+

6f

23/09/18

Europa*

Cologne

3yo+

1m4f

Italy

13/05/18

Presidente Della Repubblica

Capannelle

4yo+

1m1f

Turkey

03/09/17

Tokapi Trophy

Veliefendi

3yo+ c&f

1m


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If you weren't seeing the likes of Stradivarius and Order Of St George it would be a bigger issue, but we are consistently getting the best horses
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