Royal Ascot to Add Group I Sprint Next Year
Ascot Racecourse announced there will be an eighth group I race at Royal Ascot beginning next year, the name of which will be announced later.
The new six-furlong race for 3-year-olds will be run for £375,000 on the Friday of the Royal Meeting. The Buckingham Palace Stakes will be removed from the program and the race name retained for future use at Ascot.
"Much discussion has taken place with the British Horseracing Authority and European Pattern Committee to address the decline in quality of European sprinters," said Ascot chief executive Charles Barnett. "As a result, we are very pleased to be able to stage what we hope will now become a significant new option for 3-year-old sprinters at Royal Ascot before they go on to compete against their elders in the Darley July Cup (Eng-I) and beyond.
"As part of the overall program, the Pavilion Stakes at Ascot in the spring also goes to group III and, to deliver the necessary end of season championship race in Europe at six furlongs, the QIPCO British Champions Sprint has been promoted to group I. This brings the number of top level races run at Ascot annually to 13 from next year.
"In order to maximize the field for the new Royal Ascot sprint, the Diamond Jubilee Stakes (Eng-I) will be closed to 3-year-olds going forward.
"Importantly for us, this won't have significant adverse effect on our overseas promotion of this race as Southern Hemisphere 3-year-olds are counted as 4-year-olds in the Northern Hemisphere," Barnett said. "Equally, the sprinters we attract from Hong Kong, Japan, America and such, have always been older horses.
"The King's Stand Stakes (Eng-I) remains open to 3-year-olds as this is quite a different test to the stiff six furlongs at Ascot and all parties felt that 3-year-olds should still have this option.
"We feel six-race cards preserve quality and fit best at Royal Ascot so we gave a lot of thought as to which race should be removed to make way for the new race and decided on the Buckingham Palace Stakes.
"The Buckingham Palace does not have as long a Royal Ascot history as some other races and we have many seven-furlong handicaps at Ascot outside the Royal Meeting. There are also several other handicap options for this type of horse during Royal Ascot."
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