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No upgrade for City of York Stakes as Ebor Festival race remains a Group 2

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Much work has been been put into trying to achieve Group One status for the seven-furlong contest in recent years, with the race achieving the requisite rating in 2023, when it was won for a second successive campaign by Kinross.

However, the European Pattern Committee failed to agree to an upgrading of the race, which would have been the only top-level contest at that distance in Britain, as well as opting not to reclassify the Long Distance Cup on Champions Day at Ascot as a Group One.

Ruth Quinn, the British Horseracing Authority’s director of international racing and development, said: “After more than a decade of building towards Britain’s first seven-furlong Group One in the City of York Stakes, with the open encouragement of the EPC, the race achieved the required rating parameter in 2023.

“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 One race.”

The Group Three Sovereign Stakes at Salisbury plus two Listed races, the Ganton Stakes at York and the Scarbrough Stakes at Doncaster, have been voluntarily removed from the black type programme while three high-profile British races are theoretically “at potential risk of downgrade depending on their performance in 2024”.

The Group One Commonwealth Cup – the six-furlong three-year-old sprint at Royal Ascot introduced in 2015 – is one of those in possible danger, along with the five-furlong Temple Stakes at Haydock and the Chester Vase, a Derby trial that has produced subsequent Epsom winners such as Henbit, Shergar and Ruler Of The World.

A notable downgrade in France is the Prix Saint Alary which drops to Group Two level, with the overall number of Pattern and Listed races declining from 852 in 2022 to 826 in 2024, a change that concerns EPC chair Jason Morris.

He said: “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.”

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