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In 1970, the Racing Authorities of France, Great Britain and Ireland decided to introduce European Pattern Races classified by groups, to assess penalties and allowances which will no longer depend on prize money.

Each country agreed to put forward about 90 of its main races and to divide them into three groups :

the first to comprise the Classic races for which there was no restrictive clause,

the second for races which formed the trial for the Classics,

the third for smaller (consolation) races.

Since 1971, the conditions of these races are published annually in the " European Pattern Book ".

Italy joined in 1971 and Germany in 1972.

European Pattern races became a worldwide model for the Grading of the major races in all great racing and breeding countries. In view of this, the European Pattern Committee decided in 1979 to define a policy on Pattern Races establishing Ground Rules which were periodically reviewed.

At its annual meeting in January 2003, in Stockholm, the European Pattern Committee agreed on the following Ground Rules :


    1. The European Pattern Committee (the Committee) aims to assist, by applying its Ground Rules, the provision, within the member and associate member countries as a whole, of a co-ordinated programme of quality races in each age, sex and distance category.

    2. The Committee will also aim to achieve a balance of Group races within the European Pattern, so that there are more Group 3 races than Group 2 and more Group 2 races than Group 1, and the total number of Group 3 races exceeds the total combined number of Group 1 and Group 2 race.


  • The Committee includes five member countries: France, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, and Italy, represented by their respective racing authorities: France Galop, the Direktorium für Vollblutzucht und Rennen, the British Horseracing Board (BHB), Horse Racing Ireland (HRI), and the Unione Nazionale Incremento Razze Equine (UNIRE). Any other European country which stages a race which has been granted Group status by the Committee is regarded as an associate member and may be represented at the Annual Meeting with observer status and without a vote.

  • The Secretariat will be provided by the BHB on terms to be agreed from time to time.

  • The Committee will have available to it the annual classifications produced by the International Classifications Committee (ICC) of the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities (IFHA). The Committee will nominate two members of the ICC including a co-Chairma

(Effective from 1st January 2003)


Every race in the European Pattern must conform to the following rules:-

  • It should have no indigenous conditions.
  • It must have a permanent element in the title, to which a prefix or suffix may be added.
  • It must justify its grouping by the quality of its runners, assessed primarily by its Pattern Race Rating.
  • A Pattern Race Rating is the average of the Annual Ratings achieved by a race over a three-year period. The Annual Rating is the average of the official ratings, as agreed by the ICC, of the first four horses to finish plus, in respect of all races restricted to fillies, an allowance of 3lb for races restricted to 2 year olds and 5lb for all other races.

The Pattern Race Ratings below are the standard which a race should achieve to justify Pattern status:

All other races

Group 1
Group 2
Group 3
Group 1
Group 2
Group 3







5. Group 1 races must be run with no penalties or allowances other than a sex allowance, and a weight-for-age allowance where applicable.
6. Geldings may be eligible for all Pattern races except those Group 1 races confined to 2yo's or 3yo's.


For the purposes of the Ground Rules, changes are defined as:-

  1. Any change of Group of a Pattern race.

  2. Any change to the conditions or date of a Pattern race.

  3. Any change to the permanent element in the name of a Pattern race.

  4. A change of more than 50% in the total value of a Group 2 or Group 3 Pattern race.

  5. The introduction of a new Pattern race.

  6. The deletion of an existing Pattern race.


(a) The following rules shall apply to the upgrading of Pattern races by Group and admission of new races to the Pattern, and shall be waived only in exceptional circumstances and with a unanimous vote:-

In the case of a majority vote, the country submitting the proposal shall not have a vote. In the event of a tie the proposal shall be rejected.

1. To qualify for upgrading or admission to the Pattern a race must have been run with similar conditions and comparable prize money, and on the same date, for at least the last three years.

2. Upgrading or admission of a race must be justified by the quality of the runners, assessed by both the Pattern Race Rating and the last Annual Rating.

Upgrading of Existing Pattern Races

3. No race shall be eligible for upgrading to Group 1 or Group 2 if such an upgrade would involve a clash liable to have adverse effects on an existing Group 1 or Group 2 race.

4. An existing Pattern race satisfying the requirements for upgrading may be upgraded by only one Group in any one year.

5. There will be no restriction on the number of races that can be upgraded within the Pattern in any one year.

6. The upgrading of any race already in the Pattern will be subject to a unanimous vote by the Committee.

Creation of New Pattern Races

7. A Listed race satisfying the requirements for admission to the Pattern must be introduced as a Group 3 race.

8. A Listed race shall be eligible for promotion to Group 3 if the race in question achieves an average rating, both as an average for the last three years and for the most recent year, in excess of the applicable Group 3 parameter and subject to a majority vote.

9. The number of new races to be admitted into the Pattern for each country in any one year will be limited to a number equating to 10% of the total number of Pattern races in that country, providing that the country concerned has no more than 10% of its Pattern races with a Pattern Race Rating below the required parameter. A country with more than 10% of its Pattern races with a Pattern Race Rating below the required parameter may apply for no more than one new Pattern race in any one year, but only if none of its existing Group 3 races has a Pattern Race Rating which is more than 3lb below the required parameter. (Note: In calculating the figure equating to 10% no 'rounding-up' of the total number of races eligible for admission into the Pattern will be permitted.)

10. Any country deleting a race, or races, from its Pattern may introduce an equivalent number of new Pattern races in the year of the deletion providing that the race(s) fulfils the requirements for admission and is agreed by a majority vote.

11. Applications for new races to be admitted into the Pattern from associate members, or from any other country wishing to become an associate member, will be considered by the Committee on their individual merits and decided by majority vote.

(b) The following rules shall apply to the downgrading/deletion of Pattern races:-

1. The Secretariat shall send formal warning letters to the relevant Racing Authorities in respect of those races whose Pattern Race Rating has fallen below the agreed tolerance level of 3lbs. Any downgrades/deletions shall be decided by a majority vote if those races are, for the second consecutive year, below the tolerance level set by the Committee.

2. Any Group 1 race with an Annual Rating more than 5lb below the parameters for each of the last three years will be subject to a formal warning letter to the relevant Racing Authority and will then be automatically downgraded if it is still more than 5lb below the parameters for the fourth year. Any other Pattern race with an Annual Rating more than 3lb below the parameters for each of the last two years will be subject to a formal warning letter and will then be automatically downgraded if it is still more than 3lb below the parameters for the third year.

(c) In assessing upgrades, admissions, downgrades or deletions of races to the Pattern, the Committee may additionally take account of:-

1. The ratings of the four highest rated horses in any race as well as the first four to finish.

2. The effect on the shape of the Pattern in the country concerned and/or the effect on the shape of the entire European Pattern (for example, races which are regarded in each individual country as a Guineas, Derby, Oaks or St Leger, when open to three year olds only).

3. The effect of the fillies' weight allowance.


  1. All Pattern race proposals for the following year must be notified to the Secretariat by December 1st for immediate circulation to all member countries. This requirement shall be observed strictly so as to ensure time for proper consideration of the proposals before the Annual Meeting of the Committee.
  2. Proformas for upgrades/promotions must be completed in full and returned to the Secretariat as soon as all the information is available. The Committee may reject any Pattern race proformas returned with incomplete information


Changes shall be implemented for the immediate season if accepted according to the Ground Rules.


Any proposed new weight-for-age race of higher value than the average value of Group 2 races in the country concerned in that year must obtain the unanimous approval of the Committee before it is introduced or it will be unable to obtain Pattern status in the future.


Each country should set and publish minimum rating parameters for their Listed races and ensure that those races meet those rating requirements. The Committee will be informed of the total number of Listed races in each country and any proposed increase in the number of Listed races will be discussed by the Committee prior to the additional Listed status being granted by the country concerned. The Committee will also review the quality of all Listed races in the last complete year for which handicap ratings are available. However, no country will have any right of veto on any proposal from another country.


The Committee shall aim to achieve greater standardisation of weight-for-age and sex allowances in all member countries.


Until agreement has been reached by the Committee, there must be no official statement to the media of any proposed changes to the Pattern.

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