The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has today announced a number of upgrades to British Jump Pattern and Listed races across Jockey Club Racecourses for the 2015/16 season, including the elevation of the E-Lites Top Novices’ Hurdle Race at the Crabbie's Grand National Festival to Grade 1 status.
The 2015 running of the 2m 1f contest at Aintree saw northern trainer Malcolm Jefferson’s exciting prospect Cyrus Darius rout a strong field by 10 lengths, while the race also boasts the likes of My Tent Or Yours amongst its recent winners. The upgrade will see a total of 12 Grade 1 races run at the 2016 Crabbie's Grand National Festival, with four Grade 1 races on each day.
Further to this, three other races at Aintree, Cheltenham and Sandown Park have earned upgrades from Listed to Grade 2 status, including Aintree’s Mares’ National Hunt Flat Race, providing a further boost to a Mares’ programme which has been strengthened significantly in recent years.
Applications for upgrades were considered in detail by the BHA’s Jump Racing Committee. All races to receive a change to their status for 2015/16 season are:
Andrew Tulloch, Jockey Club Racecourses’ Regional Head of Racing for the North West and Clerk of the Course at Aintree
“We are really delighted that these two races have achieved Grade 1 and Grade 2 status respectively. The E-Lites Top Novices’ Hurdle race has always performed well and it was pleasing to see this race won by northern trainer, Malcolm Jefferson, this year. Although a relatively new addition, this upgrade now sees all three novice hurdles at the Crabbie’s Grand National Festival achieve Grade 1 status and, overall, Aintree will now stage 12 Grade 1 races during the three-day event, which is a testament to the meeting’s quality and growing appeal.”
Simon Claisse, Jockey Club Racecourses’ Regional Head of Racing for the South West and Clerk of the Course at Cheltenham
“Introduced to Cheltenham’s Open Meeting just six years ago, the Shloer Steeple Chase has become established as an early season target for the best two milers, with the most recent winner, J P McManus’s Uxizandre trained by Alan King and ridden by Barry Geraghty, going on to score Grade 1 success in this year’s Ryanair at The Festival with A P McCoy. Previous winners also include Well Chief, Gauvain (twice) and Wishfull Thinking so we are delighted the quality of the event has been recognised with its elevation to a Grade 2.”
Andrew Cooper, Jockey Club Racecourses’ Regional Head of Racing for London and Clerk of the Course at Sandown Park
“Sandown Park is thrilled that, after just two runnings, both won by the Philip Hobbs-trained Menorah, the Oaksey Chase at the bet365 Jumps Finale has been elevated to Grade 2 status. Credit to BHA Race Planning for suggesting the race two years ago and as Sandown Park had no greater supporter than Lord Oaksey it is fitting that the race named in his memory has made such an immediate impact.”
Ruth Quinn, Director of International Racing and Racing Development for the BHA
“We're really pleased to be able to upgrade The E-Lites Top Novices’ Hurdle race at Aintree to Grade 1 status. It's a race that has performed consistently well, time and again attracting quality young horses who have gone on to further success either over Hurdles or when making the progression to Chasing.
“In 2016 there will be 12 Grade 1 races at the Crabbie's Grand National Festival, a clear sign of the tremendously high-class racing staged there now over all three days of the meeting.”