Horse Racing: Blow for Beverley as Needler downgraded

Beverley's prestigious Hilary Needler Trophy in May, won by Scottish-owned filly Attraction in 2003, has lost its Listed status.

The news comes as a significant blow to officials at the East Yorkshire venue as the five-furlong sprint for fillies has long been coveted as a valuable stepping-stone towards Royal Ascot.

The most noteworthy scorer in the Hilary Needler's long history was Attraction eight years ago. Mark Johnston's remarkable filly, owned by the Duke of Roxburghe, went on to win the Queen Mary of the same season, before landing the English and Irish 1,000 Guineas a year later.

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Beverley general manager Sally Iggulden said: "Since Attraction, there hasn't really been a winner that has gone on to great things. But it's still recognised as a stepping-stone race for bigger things - especially for northern horses."

Recent winners have flattered to deceive, with 2010 victor Geesala having floundered in four subsequent starts. It will now be competed under its old guise of a class two conditions race. Iggulden added: "In order to maintain Listed status, winning horses have to have a rating of around the 90 mark at the end of their two-year-old careers.

"The recent rating for the race has sadly slipped to 79, so they (the British Horseracing Authority) have had no choice but to take its Listed status away. That's not to say we can't get it back, but it's still disappointing news."

Elsewhere, Zenyatta was finally crowned Horse Of The Year as the 40th annual Eclipse Awards took place in Miami Beach. The seven-year-old notched up 19 successive victories before being edged into second by Blame in the final start of her career in the Breeders' Cup Classic last November.

However, despite her lengthy winning streak, Zenyatta was beaten to the title of Horse Of The Year by Rachel Alexandra in 2009 and Curlin the year before. French mare Goldikova was also nominated in the Horse Of The Year category after winning the Breeders' Cup Mile for a third time. She received just five votes compared to Zenyatta's 128, but she was still crowned the best female turf performer.

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