Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) has today announced a number of enhancements and alterations to the Irish National Hunt Pattern race programme for the remainder of the 2019/2020 season.
The Metal Man Steeplechase at Tramore on New Year’s Day, famously won by Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Al Boum Photo this year, is one of three Listed races upgraded to Grade 3 status.
Owen Byrne, Manager of Tramore Racecourse, said: “The Tramore Racecourse Board and myself are thrilled that our chase has been awarded Grade 3 status. It is a testament to the horses that have run here over the years and we are very grateful to the owners and trainers who have supported us. We would love to think the race would produce another Gold Cup winner and we will be going all out to find one.”
In addition, the Listed Quevega Mares Hurdle at Punchestown in February 2020 is now a Grade 3 race as is the Pierce Molony Memorial Novice Chase, registered as the Native Upmanship Novice Chase, at Thurles the following month.
A significant enhancement to the Irish National Hunt race programme for mares for the 2019/2020 season is the introduction of a new Listed Mares Novice Hurdle at Punchestown on Sunday, December 8 2019. The race will be named after Voler La Vedette, a 13-time winner for trainer Colm Murphy.
The T.A. Morris Memorial Irish EBF Mares Chase (Listed Race) at Clonmel on November 14 2019 will be run as an open mares’ chase having previously been confined to first and second season chasers.
Looking ahead to the 2020/2021 season, the McHale Mayo National Handicap Chase has been awarded Grade B status and becomes the first Pattern race to be run at Ballinrobe. John Flannelly, Ballinrobe Racecourse Manager, said: “Everyone in Ballinrobe is delighted with the news that the McHale Mayo National is to be upgraded next season and will be run with a total value of €75,000, an increase of €25,000. We are so grateful for the continued support of McHale which has made this upgrade possible.”
Jason Morris, HRI’s director of Racing, said: “Ireland now has a well-balanced programme of jumping Black Type opportunities and consequently there will only be modest enhancements to the National Hunt Pattern for the 2019/2020 season even though many races could potentially qualify for upgrading given the quality of the Irish horse population.
“We are delighted that Ballinrobe’s efforts to improve the quality of the McHale Mayo National can be reflected in the allocation of Grade B status for the race, while Tramore will also deservedly gain a first Graded race with the promotion of its Metal Man Chase from Listed to Grade 3 status.
“The Black Type programme for mares also continues to be developed as a further encouragement to promote the purchase of National Hunt fillies and their retention in training.”

Listed to Grade 3

TramoreJan 1, 2020  Metal Man2m 5f Chase
PunchestownFeb 19, 2020Quevega2m 4f Mares Hurdle
ThurlesMarch 21, 2020Native Upmanship2m 2f Novice Chase

New Race

PunchestownDec 8, 2019Voler La Vedette 2m 4f Listed Mares Novice Hurdle

Distance Change

Gowran ParkOct 4, 2019 Pat Walsh Memorial2m Mares Hurdle
(Previously 2m 2f)

Conditions Change

Clonmel Nov 14, 2019TA Morris MemorialOpen Mares Chase
(Previously confined to 1st and 2nd season)

New Race for 2020/2021              

BallinrobeMay 26, 2020Mayo National 2m 7f Grade B
Handicap Chase

Deletion for 2020/2021

Gowran Park Kilkenny Festival                    3m Handicap Hurdle