Group races, also known as Pattern races, or Graded races in some jurisdictions, are the highest level of races in Thoroughbred horse racing. They include most of the world's iconic races, such as, in Europe, the Derby, Irish Derby and Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, in Australia, the Melbourne Cup and in the United States, the Kentucky Derby and Breeders' Cup races. Victory in these races marks a horse as being particularly talented, if not exceptional, and they are extremely important in determining stud values. They are also sometimes referred to as Black type races, since any horse that has won one of these races is printed in bold type in sales catalogues.
In Australia, the Australian Pattern Committee recommends to the Australian Racing Board (ARB) which races shall be designated as Group races.The list of races approved by the ARB is accepted by the International Cataloguing Standards Committee (ICSC) for publication by The Jockey Club (US) in The Blue Book, thus providing international recognition for Australia's best races.
There are four grades of Group races in Australia:
Australia has a total of approximately 540 to 550 Group races from a season total of almost 21,000 races. These races were collectively known as Principal Races until about 1979. For a list of Group races see List of Australian Group races.
In Europe the designation of flat races is agreed by the European Pattern Committee. The Committee grade races into one of three levels, dependent on the average official ratings achieved by the first four finishers in a race over a three-year period.The breakdown is as follows:
Like Australia, there is also a grade of races just below "Group" level, known as "Listed races". These have less prestige than the group races but are still more important than handicap races. Listed races also provide their winners and placed horses with "black type" in sales catalogues and their creation was initially left up to each country to regulate. Listed races in Europe are now also regulated by the European Pattern Committee.The current British Horseracing Authority rules state that a race in Great Britain is a Listed race if "in any particular year, it is a flat race which appears as a listed race in the European Pattern Race Book.
The pattern system, overseen by the European Pattern Committee, is fluid and the Group status of key races can change. By this method, the Prince of Wales Stakes at Royal Ascot was upgraded from Group 2 to Group 1 in the year 2000. However, a number of checks and balances are in place which ensure that changes to the Pattern are gradual and evolutionary, thereby giving the racing industry time to adjust. In particular, the current European Pattern Committee "Ground Rules" explicitly state that no race may be upgraded by more than one Group in any one year. Such restrictions can prove troublesome when major new races are launched. For example, the Dubai World Cup, the world's richest horse race, was only given Listed status for its inaugural running in 1996.
National Hunt racing in Europe has an equivalent grading system where the races are known as Grade 1, Grade 2, Grade 3 and Listed races respectively. This takes place independently of the European Pattern system above, which applies only to flat races.
In North America, the equivalent are known as Graded stakes races.
Unlike in some other countries, handicap races can be included in the North American and Australian grading system; although most graded stakes races in North America and Group races in Australia are conditions races, and handicaps are more often seen in races of lower level, there are still several handicaps that are Grade I or Group 1 races respectively.
The pattern system exerts a huge influence on the bloodstock market, particularly in relation to the stud fee that a stallion can command for covering a mare at stud. This will be dictated almost entirely by the stallion's performances in Pattern races during its racing career. Only the very best horses can perform successfully in Group 1 events and such animals invariably command the highest stud fees when their racing career is at an end. A top-quality stallion can be enormously lucrative for its owners – stud fees of more than US$100,000 are relatively commonplace for the most coveted stallions.
Thoroughbred racing is a sport and industry involving the racing of Thoroughbred horses. It is governed by different national bodies. There are two forms of the sport – flat racing and jump racing, the latter known as National Hunt racing in the UK and steeplechasing in the US. Jump racing can be further divided into hurdling and steeplechasing.
Horse racing is an equestrian performance sport, typically involving two or more horses ridden by jockeys over a set distance, for competition. It is one of the most ancient of all sports, as its basic premise – to identify which of two or more horses is the fastest over a set course or distance – has been unchanged since at least classical antiquity.
Thoroughbred horse racing is an important spectator sport in Australia, and gambling on horse races is a very popular pastime with A$14.3 billion wagered in 2009/10 with bookmakers and the Totalisator Agency Board (TAB). The two forms of Thoroughbred horseracing in Australia are flat racing, and races over fences or hurdles in Victoria and South Australia. Thoroughbred racing is the third most attended spectator sport in Australia, behind Australian rules football and rugby league, with almost two million admissions to 360 registered racecourses throughout Australia in 2009/10. Horseracing commenced soon after European settlement, and is now well-appointed with automatic totalizators, starting gates and photo finish cameras on nearly all Australian racecourses.
Conditions races are horse races in which the weights carried by the runners are laid down by the conditions attached to the race. Weights are allocated according to the sex of the runners, with female runners carrying less weight than males; the age of the runners, with younger horses receiving weight from older runners to allow for relative maturity, referred to as weight for age; and the quality of the runners, with horses that have won certain values of races giving weight to less successful entrants.
Galileo is a retired Irish Thoroughbred racehorse and active sire. In a racing career which lasted from October 2000 until October 2001 he ran eight times and won six races. He is best known for winning The Derby, Irish Derby Stakes, and King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes in 2001 and for his rivalry with the Godolphin champion Fantastic Light. He was named the European Champion Three-Year-Old Colt of 2001.
Group One, Group 1, Grade I or G1 is the term used for the highest level of Thoroughbred and Standardbred stakes races in many countries. In Europe, the level of races for Thoroughbred racing is determined using the Pattern race system introduced in 1971 and monitored by the European Pattern Committee. To attain or maintain a Group One status, the average rating for the first four finishers in the race must be 115 or higher over a three-year period. The International Federation of Horseracing Authorities works to ensure consistent international standards. Group One races may only be restricted to age groups or a stipulated sex: they should not be restricted to horses bred in a certain country. Group One (G1) races may be run under handicap conditions in Australia, but in Europe weight-for-age conditions always apply.
Distorted Humor is an American Thoroughbred racehorse and a successful sire.
A graded stakes race is a thoroughbred horse race in the United States that meets the criteria of the American Graded Stakes Committee of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association (TOBA). A specific grade level is then assigned to the race, based on statistical analysis of the quality of the field in previous years, provided the race meets the minimum purse criteria for the grade in question. In Canada, a similar grading system is maintained by the Jockey Club of Canada. Graded stakes races are similar to Group races in Europe but the grading is more dynamic in North America.
Fantastic Light is a retired Thoroughbred racehorse and pensioned sire. He was foaled in the United States but was trained in England and Dubai during his racing career, which ran from August 1998 to his retirement following the Breeders' Cup Turf in October 2001. He raced in seven countries, winning Group One/Grade I races in five of them and was a dual winner of the Emirates World Series Racing Championship. He was named United States Champion Male Turf Horse, European Horse of the Year and European Champion Older Horse in 2001. He was also well known for his two races against the 2001 Epsom Derby winner Galileo. In August 2012 it was announced that he had been pensioned from stallion duty while in Japan and would return to Dalham Hall in England to live out his days as a pensioner.
Shadwell Racing is the Thoroughbred horse racing operations of Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
The 1998 Epsom Derby was a horse race which took place at Epsom Downs on Saturday 6 June 1998. It was the 219th running of the Derby, and it was won by High-Rise. The winner was ridden by Olivier Peslier and trained by Luca Cumani. The pre-race favourite Cape Verdi finished ninth.
The Flying Five Stakes is a Group 1 flat horse race in Ireland open to thoroughbreds aged three years or older. It is run at the Curragh over a distance of 5 furlongs, and it is scheduled to take place each year in September during Irish Champions Weekend.
The Mooresbridge Stakes is a Group 2 flat horse race in Ireland open to thoroughbreds aged four years or older. It is run over a distance of 1 mile and 2 furlongs (2,012 metres) at the Curragh in early May.
Pommern (1912–1935) was a British bred Thoroughbred racehorse and sire. In a racing career which lasted from 1914 to June 1916 he ran ten times and won seven races. As a three-year-old in 1915 he won the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket and the wartime substitutes for The Derby and the St. Leger Stakes to win a version of the English Triple Crown. After winning his only race as a four-year-old in 1916, he was retired to stud where he had limited success.
Frankel is a retired champion British Thoroughbred racehorse. Frankel was unbeaten in his fourteen-race career and was the highest-rated racehorse in the world from May 2011. In 2010 he defeated a field including subsequent Group 1 winners Nathaniel and Colour Vision on his debut before winning the Royal Lodge Stakes by ten lengths and the Dewhurst Stakes in which he defeated the Middle Park Stakes winner Dream Ahead. As a three-year-old, he won the Classic 2000 Guineas by six lengths, the St James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot, defeated the outstanding older miler Canford Cliffs in the much-anticipated Sussex Stakes at Goodwood and won the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot. Frankel extended his unbeaten record in 2012 by winning the Lockinge Stakes, the Queen Anne Stakes and then the Sussex Stakes for a second time. In August he was moved up to a mile and a quarter for the first time and won the International Stakes at York. In October he won the Champion Stakes at Ascot, again over a mile and a quarter, following which his retirement from racing was announced.
Psidium was an Irish-bred, British-trained Thoroughbred racehorse and sire. In a racing career that lasted from 1960 to 1961 Psidium ran 11 times and won twice. He is best known for his win, as a 66/1 outsider in the 1961 Epsom Derby. He later became a successful stallion.
Our Babu was an Irish-bred, British-trained Thoroughbred racehorse and sire. In a career that lasted from May 1954 to June 1955 he ran nine times and won four races. He was Britain's top-rated juvenile of 1954 when his win included the Middle Park Stakes and the Champagne Stakes, and went on to win the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket the following spring. After failing to win in two subsequent races he was retired to stud, where he had limited success as a sire of winners in the United States, Europe and Japan.
The Sandringham Handicap is a flat handicap horse race in Great Britain open to three-year-old fillies. It is run at Ascot over a distance of 1 mile, and it is scheduled to take place each year in June on the fourth day of the Royal Ascot meeting. The race was called the Fern Hill Rated Stakes until 2001, and was part of the Ascot Heath meeting held on the Saturday after Royal Ascot. Prior to 2018 it was run as a Listed handicap but was downgraded by the British Horseracing Authority to comply with a new rule that no handicap race could carry Listed or Group race status.
The Hambleton Stakes is a handicap flat horse race in Great Britain open to horses aged four years or older. It is run at York over a distance of 7 furlongs and 192 yards, and it is scheduled to take place each year in May. Prior to 2018 it was run as a Listed handicap but was downgraded by the British Horseracing Authority to comply with a new rule that no handicap race could carry Listed or Group race status.