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Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) today announced a number of enhancements to the Irish National Hunt Pattern race programme for the 2015/16 National Hunt season, including further improvements to the Mares Programme with three additional Listed races, two of which were introduced as conditions races in recent years and have earned inclusion in the Pattern. The three additional races are the Pat Walsh Memorial Hurdle at Gowran Park in October, which has been won by Cailin Annamh and Little King Robin; the Opera Hat Chase at Naas in February, which was claimed by Avondhu Lady in 2014 and Jacksonslady this year; and the Liss A Paoraigh EBF Flat Race, which will replace the ITBA Scheme Bonus Bumper at the Punchestown Festival.

Three other races have been awarded new Black type status: the EBF Novice Chase at Navan in December which has been won by Felix Yonger and Clarcam in the last two seasons; the Ballymore Eustace Handicap Hurdle over three miles at the Punchestown Festival which will have a rating cap of 140; and the two and a half mile Conditions Chase at Killarney in May which was won in recent years by high-class performers such as Baily Green and Rathlin.

Two races have been upgraded from Grade 3 to Grade 2 status, the three miles Dorans Pride Novice Hurdle at the Limerick Christmas Festival, the last two renewals of which have been claimed by Faugheen and Martello Tower, and the Percy Maynard Juvenile Hurdle at the Fairyhouse Easter Festival. The latter change has been made in conjunction with the downgrading of the Winning Fair Juvenile Hurdle to Grade 3 at the same venue in February, so as to provide a better progression through the spring for 4yo hurdlers.

Further upgrades include two handicap hurdles and a handicap chase at major festivals which have achieved high race ratings and have been awarded Grade B status, namely the Mervue Handicap Hurdle at Galway, the Island Handicap Hurdle at Listowel and the Black Hills Handicap Chase at Punchestown.

A full list of the National Hunt Pattern race changes is provided below:

Upgraded from Grade 3 to 2

Date Racecourse Race Title Conditions
29th Dec 2015 Limerick Dorans Pride 3m Novice Hurdle
29th Mar 2016 Fairyhouse Percy Maynard 2m Juvenile Hurdle

Upgraded from Grade C to Grade B

Date Racecourse Race Title Conditions
1st Aug 2015 Galway Mervue 2m 5f Handicap Hurdle
17th Sep 2015 Listowel Island 2m 5yo+ Handicap Hurdle
28th Apr 2016 Punchestown Black Hills 2m Handicap Chase

Introduced at Grade 3 status

Date Racecourse Race Title Conditions
5th Dec 2015 Navan EBF Novice Chase 2m 1f Novice Chase
9th May 2016 Killarney An Riocht 2 ½m Conditions Chase

Introduced at Listed status

Date Racecourse Race Title Conditions
2nd Oct 2015 Gowran Park Pat Walsh Memorial 2 1/2m Mares Hurdle
6th Feb 2016 Naas Opera Hat 2m Mares Chase
29th Apr 2016 Punchestown Liss A Paoraigh 2m Mares Bumper

Introduced at Grade C status

Date Racecourse Race Title Conditions
28th Apr 2016 Punchestown Ballymore Eustace 3m Handicap Hurdle

Downgrade from Grade 2 to Grade 3

Date Racecourse Race Title Conditions
20th Feb 2016 Fairyhouse Winning Fair 2m Juvenile Hurdle

Amended Condition

Date Racecourse Race Title Conditions
15th Sep 2015 Listowel Lartigue (Limited Hcp 11.10 – 10.03) Grade C 4yo only Hcp Hurdle

Amended Distance

Date Racecourse Race Title Conditions
13th  Mar 2016 Limerick Shannon Spray (2m 6f from 2m) Grade 3 Mares Novice Hurdle

Amended Date

Date Racecourse Race Title Conditions
14th  Nov 2015 Punchestown Grabel (from  15th Oct 2014) 2m Grade 3 Mares Hurdle