01/14/2003 12:00AM

Queen Anne upgraded to Group 1


Royal Ascot's Queen Anne Stakes heads a list of 28 European races that have been upgraded for 2003, but it is the only race that has been newly granted Group 1 status.

The straight one-mile race will also receive a purse increase from $216,000 to $400,000, but will now be restricted to 4-year-olds and up and will lose its long-held place as the opening event on the first day at the Royal Meeting. It will now be run as the fourth race on that card after the St. James's Palace Stakes, a Group 1 mile for 3-year-old colts.

The European Pattern Race Committee, which met in Stockholm last week, also upgraded seven British Group 3's to Group 2 status. These are the July Stakes, the Duke of York, the Lennox, the Vintage, the May Hill, the Scottish Classic, and the Doncaster Cup. Eleven British listed races have been granted Group 3 status, among them the Dee Stakes, the Superlative, the Joel, the Bentinck, the Darley, and the Autumn.

Eight Irish stakes have been upgraded, chief among them the Leopardstown Derby Trial. Won in the last three years by Epsom and Irish derby winners Sinndar, Galileo, and High Chaparral, the Trial is now a Group 2 race, as are the Railway, the Matron, and the Beresford. The Ballysax, the Athasi, the Mooresbridge, and the Brownstown have been upped from listed status to the Group 3 level.

In Germany, Baden-Baden's Oettingen-Rennen has been upgraded from Group 3 to Group 2, but no French or Italian races have been upgraded, nor have any European stakes at all been downgraded.