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Two Irish Flat races promoted

Ireland's Flat-racing programme has been strengthened with the raising of two events to Group Three status for the 2012 season and the creation of two new Listed contests.

European Pattern Committee approval has been gained for the promotion of the Fairy Bridge Stakes at Tipperary on August 23 and the Irish St Leger Trial at the Curragh on August 25 to Group Three level from Listed.

The extra Listed races are a 10-furlong contest for three-year-old fillies at Naas on June 27 and a seven-furlong event for fillies and mares at the Galway Festival.

HRI director of racing Jason Morris said: "This re-enforces HRI's commitment towards its key strategic policy of encouraging the production and retention of high-quality horses in Ireland under both codes.

"The changes will further strengthen the programme for older fillies, encouraging the retention of high-quality mares in Ireland and thereby providing a boost to the breeding industry.

"Ireland has achieved tremendous success in staying races in recent years, winning the last six renewals of the Ascot Gold Cup, and a further Group Three race will provide a welcome additional Pattern opportunity in this distance category."

Tipperary manager Jane Davis said: "We are very pleased to have secured the promotion of the Fairy Bridge Stakes to Group Three status, giving Tipperary a second Flat Group race in addition to our three Flat Listed races.

"The 2011 race won by John Oxx's Alanza was an extremely strong contest, including international participation, and we look forward to another high-quality renewal at our summer evening meeting on August 23 this year."

Curragh manager Paul Hensey added: "The upgrading of the Irish St Leger Trial (registered as the Ballycullen) is welcome news, as it will provide a further boost for the Irish staying race programme.

"It is a race which has attracted some outstanding champions such as Vinnie Roe, Alandi and Fame And Glory, and the race fully deserves its promotion to Group Three status as the pre-eminent trial for the Irish St Leger."

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