x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Call for Al Quoz sprint to get an upgradation

Nick Smith, the head of international horse racing, feels the current Dubai World Cup Group 2 race at Meydan Racecourse is bound to get rating higher than 115 for a step-up.

JJ The Jet Plane, No 11, was the winner of the Al Quoz Sprint, a Group 2 competition, at Meydan Racecourse in March this year.
JJ The Jet Plane, No 11, was the winner of the Al Quoz Sprint, a Group 2 competition, at Meydan Racecourse in March this year.

ASCOT, ENGLAND // Nick Smith, the head of international racing at Ascot, believes that the Al Quoz sprint should be upgraded to Group 1 status for next season.

The Al Quoz sprint was won last season by JJ The Jet Plane and is one of three thoroughbred races on the Dubai World Cup card at Meydan Racecourse to be rated as a Group 2.

The others are the Godolphin Mile and the UAE Derby.

A Group 1 race is required to have a rating of 115, a figure reached by averaging out the first four finishers by the Pattern Committee in each racing jurisdiction.

There are eight Group 2s throughout the Dubai International Racing Carnival, but as yet no Group 1 race is staged in the UAE outside Dubai World Cup night.

This is despite the fact that Twice Over's victory in Round Three of the Al Maktoum Challenge and Bold Silvano's success in Round Two both made the top 50 in the world rankings, released last month.

"You have to get the ratings of the race up so the horses that compete have to be proven and averaged out," Smith said.

"The rating of the first four in any race, averaged out, gives the race a rating. If the race rating over a three-year period goes over a certain parameter you are eligible for an upgrade."

Smith certainly knows how it is done. Ascot celebrates its tercentenary this year and among the many ways of commemorating the landmark event is that the racecourse has upgraded the Hampton Court Stakes to become the 18th Group race at the Royal Meeting.

Ascot has adopted a special commemorative logo, unveiled a new rose named after Queen Anne, the founder of the racecourse, but it is the upgrading of the 2,000m contest for three year olds from a Listed race to a Group 3 that catches the eye.

The upgrade follows that of the King's Stand Stakes, the first of the three British legs of the Global Sprint Challenge and one of the feature races of the meeting.

The King's Stand was installed as a Group 1 event in 2008 and is the second race on today's card.

The Queen Anne Stakes, which opens the meeting, was also accorded Group 1 status in 2003, a year after the Golden Jubilee Stakes, the second British leg of the Global Sprint challenge.

In the past 10 years the royal racecourse has also upgraded the Queen Mary and the Norfolk Stakes to Group 2s in 2004 and 2006 respectively, while the Albany was moved up to Group 3 status in 2005.

Lastly, the Prince Of Wales's Stakes, which Godolphin have won twice in the past decade, was made a Group 1 in 2000.

Ascot now has seven Group 1 races during the five-day meeting, and are hoping to get the Hardwicke Stakes, run on Saturday, made into a Group 1 also.

"The ratings of the Hardwicke are way over Group 1 parameter," Smith said.

"There are complications with that, however, as the race technically clashes with the Coronation Cup at Epsom and the Grand Prix St Cloud in France."

Since the inaugural Dubai Carnival in 2004, the standards have increased dramatically.

More than a third of all races at the Carnival last season were Listed class or higher, meaning that to enter those races a horse needs to have a rating of around 100. There were seven races upgraded for last season's Carnival, and Smith envisages there will be a lot more for next season.

"They should have a fair few upgraded this year," he said. "The Al Quoz sprint would be the most logical and most important one.

"It will need a fast track, but Meydan's races do not clash much with the likes of Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan. Meydan will try to get as many as they can possibly can."