A group race is a flat race that brings together the best horses, while the Pattern is the schedule of group races in Europe. Other jurisdictions organise the most lucrative races in other ways, and they are called Graded races.
In Britain there are three levels for group races: Group 3,Group 2 and Group 1. The latter is the highest level and generally Group 1 races are the most prestigious and offer the best prize money. Wins in group races are also important for stud value, which is the fee a horse can command when coupled with another horse to produce offspring.
Group races are also known as black type races as any horse that wins one is printed in bold type in sales literature.
The Pattern is an important element of flat racing in Britain and the rest of Europe because it lists the group races and awards them their status. A race can be upgraded to a group race and from one level to another. The average rating over a number of years of the runners in a race will determine if it is considered for an upgrade. Very few races are demoted from one level to another but it does happen.
There are minimum ratings for each level of group race in the structure and changes in the Pattern have to be gradual and the structure has to evolve. For example, a race cannot be upgraded by more than one level in a single year.
Group races are available for a specific age group and there are all-aged contests. Young and female horses receive an allowance in group races from older male horses which means the best horse does not always win a group race. The level below group races is made up of Listed races.
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