THE National Horseracing Authority has taken a decision to downgrade four races from Grade 1 to Grade 2. The races to be downgraded in 2016 are:
The downgrading of these races followed a recommendation from the Graded Races Committee. The Graded Races Committee had received a letter from the Asian Pattern Committee expressing concern that the number of Grade 1 races in South Africa was excessive compared to other countries.
Wild One, 2015 Gr1 eLan Property Group Gold Cup winner.
The Asian Pattern Committee has in fact suggested that ideally South Africa should have no more than 25 Grade 1 races and against this background, the Graded Races Committee has agreed to aggressively review all of South Africa’s Grade 1 races over the next few years. The down grading of the aforementioned races is the first phase of this process.
In 2011 South Africa agreed to comply with the Ground Rules of the Asian Pattern Committee. In terms of the Ground Rules all races must justify their grading by the quality of its runners. The quality of the field is assessed primarily by the annual race ratings of the first four placed horses over a three year period. The Asian Pattern Committee also expressed concern that a number of South African Grade 1 races did not measure up to the international standards.
In recommending that the Golden Horseshoe and the Golden Slipper be downgraded, the Graded Races Committee was of the view that the number of Grade 1 races for 2-year-olds was excessive. These races had also not measured up to the international standards over the past years.
The SA Oaks and the Gold Cup also fell short of the international requirements for Grade 1 races. Notwithstanding that these are of the best races in their category, the overall quality of staying horses in South Africa unfortunately does not compare with other countries in Part 1 of the International Cataloguing Standards.