In the middle of September, the New Zealand Pattern Committee released their Report which lists the schedule of the Group and Listed winners for the 2022/23 season following its review of the 2021/22 season.
It made for pretty grim reading for the future of our classic three-year-old races the Derby and the 2000 Guineas, which have both been issued with warnings. In total, seven races were given warnings compared to two last year, and 20 races were put on alert compared to 10 last year.
During the week the Chairman of the NZPC Matt Goodson appeared on Weigh-In to discuss this dilemma and explain the importance of the World Best Racehorse Rankings (WBRR) in rating black-type races and how they affect us here.
The race rating is determined by the peak World Best Racehorse Ranking (WBRR) that season for the average of the first four finishers in the race. The WBRR has no relationship with the points-based domestic New Zealand handicap rating and the two measures should not be confused.
For the past 10 years the New Zealand Pattern Committee has operated under the Asian Pattern Committee (APC) Ground Rules, which were approved by NZTR in consultation with the NZPC and the industry. Furthermore, the New Zealand list of Pattern races and their groupings is required to conform to the APC Ground Rules drawn up by the Asian Pattern Committee.
The list is then submitted through the Asian Racing Federation (ARF) to the International Grading and Race Planning Advisory Committee (IRPAC), who in turn recommends the list to be ratified by the Society of International Thoroughbred Auctioneers (SITA). The list is then published along with all other approved national lists in the annual International Cataloguing Standards and International Statistics booklet (“Blue Book”). Retention of New Zealand’s inclusion in Part One of the Blue Book is considered crucial to the national thoroughbred industry.
Working under these rules gives international buyers confidence that the black-type races that appear in the pedigrees viewed when purchasing horses are up to the required international standards. If the standards slip, the black-type status will be taken away.
The New Zealand Pattern should represent 5% of the total number of New Zealand races and should resemble a pyramid. The ideal pyramid has more Group Two races than Group One races, and the total number of Group 3 races ideally exceeds the combined total of Group One and Group Two races. Due to a reduction in the number of races over the last three seasons, the pyramid is now somewhat out of kilter. This is beginning to generate international concern and affect the perceived quality of the New Zealand Pattern.
To this end the NZPC has appointed a sub-committee to conduct a review of the Pattern for the purpose of effecting a substantial reduction in the number of Pattern Races, and to return the New Zealand Pattern towards international norms of 5% as regards the percentage of races run. While almost all Listed races are meeting their required rating benchmark, this can also be said about many unlisted races in overseas jurisdictions.
Moving the percentage straight to 5% of the total number of races may be going too far relative to the race ratings that are being achieved but that there still needs to be a substantial reduction in the percentage of Pattern Races from the current level of over 6%. This sub-committee will conduct the review of the Pattern and this will work towards preparing an initial set of recommendations to the NZPC by the end of January 2023, which will then be discussed with the affected Clubs. Following the consultation process and feedback, the final recommendations will be considered by the NZPC in its annual meeting in August 2023 for implementation in the 2023/24 season.
As a way of decoupling the funding of some races from their pattern status the NZPC strongly endorses the “Heritage” race concept. This may allow a downgraded race to retain its former prizemoney. This would allow the downgrading of races which may not rank well from a pure ratings perspective, but which are major targets, have considerable historic importance and wide public appeal. NZPC views such races as generally being best suited to be run under handicap conditions. NZPC notes that NZTR supports this concept in principle.
A full copy of the report with a complete list of upgrades, downgrades, alerts and warnings can be downloaded HERE
It is worth reading to get a full understanding as to the pressure the NZPC is under to comply with APC rules.
At this year’s International Breeders Conference Ruth Quinn, the Secretary of IRPAC presented an excellent Power Point presentation which gives a good understanding of how this group and graded racing criteria was developed and how it should be maintained. -Michelle Saba, NZTBA