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
|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
|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
|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
|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
|28th Apr 2016||Punchestown||Ballymore Eustace||3m Handicap Hurdle|
Downgrade from Grade 2 to Grade 3
|20th Feb 2016||Fairyhouse||Winning Fair||2m Juvenile Hurdle|
|15th Sep 2015||Listowel||Lartigue (Limited Hcp 11.10 – 10.03)||Grade C 4yo only Hcp Hurdle|
|13th Mar 2016||Limerick||Shannon Spray (2m 6f from 2m)||Grade 3 Mares Novice Hurdle|
|14th Nov 2015||Punchestown||Grabel (from 15th Oct 2014)||2m Grade 3 Mares Hurdle|