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It can seem complicated at first, but this guide will simplify things and a quick read through will help you on your way to becoming a handicapper master!
Handicaps aim to put horses on a level playing field by having each horse carry a predetermined weight — in theory only , the extra weight should lead to every horse finishing at exactly the same time.
The horses rating dictates what weight they will carry in that contest, with each class of race having a rating limit. For example, a Class 6 race may be marked as a contest, which means no horse rated above 55 can enter.
Once one of those conditions have been met, the horse can be assessed by the handicapper for their mark. In exceptional circumstances, the handicapper may require the horse to race more than three times to receive a mark — for example, where it finishes so far behind the rest it is impossible to analyse.
The highest rated horse in the field carries the highest weight set by the rules of the race — in this case, 9 stone 12 pounds.
Each horse then carries one pound less for every point their handicap rating is lower. While in theory all horses should finish at exactly the same time, this obviously never happens.
Handicaps are reconsidered by the handicappers every time a horse runs to ensure they are still accurate. They do this by increasing and decreasing ratings on a race by race basis for each horse.
This is outlined below in a very simple way :. Handicaps are set in stone when horses are entered for a race — usually 5 days before. The weight of the penalty differs depending on the rules of the race, as does the date after which they are applied.
Winning some races may not even incur a penalty. As mentioned above, handicap ratings are set in stone several days before the event.
Some horses may be assessed by the handicapper between the win and their next run under a penalty. The Grand National is unique in handicapping terms as handicap ratings are adjusted by the Head of Handicapping just for this one race.
This allows the handicapper to take into account the exceptionally hard stamina test and the unique fences, to prevent horses with extra experience or a particular liking for this test from being able to run off a lower handicap mark which has been earned at other different tracks.
For example, if the minimum weight for a race is 8 stone 2 pounds, and a horse would be running off 7 stone 11 pounds based on their handicap rating, they will have to carry 8 stone 2 pounds.
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What is a handicap? The allowance is usually five pounds off the assigned weight if the horse hasn't won since a certain date, or if it hasn't won a certain amount of money.
Those five pounds can matter a lot. It's generally accepted that a horse will run about a length slower for each additional pound he carries compared to his competitor, assuming they're equally talented horses.
A special kind of allowance race is known as a "starter allowance," or abbreviated to "starter. Stakes races are where the top racehorses compete.
They carry the most prestige and have the biggest purses, although the purses can vary a great deal between smaller tracks and major ones. Small local stakes races might offer just a few thousand dollars, while purses in the Kentucky Derby and the Breeders' Cup Classic range into the millions.
You'll find the best local horses at local stakes, while graded stakes will showcase the top horses from local barns as well as from around the country or even abroad.
Local stakes races often come with restrictions, such as that the horses must be bred in the state. These are called restricted stakes.
Some of these races offer significant purses, giving owners and trainers an incentive to breed and race locally.
Restricted stakes aren't eligible for grading. Explore the history of horseracing to find out what made it the sport it is today. What is Racing Explained?
A comprehensive guide to horseracing. Racing Explained is here to help you make sense of the world of horseracing.
Racing Terms Filter by Search. Racing is a sport full of unique phrases and colloquialisms. FAQs The most common questions about racing.
Find out the answers to the most frequently asked questions about horseracing here. He has drawn barrier 14 and is set to carry Marasco has had 5 first-up runs from a spell for 2 wins, while he has had 15 starts at today's track for 9 wins and one second placing.
At the distance of today's race he has had 2 starts for just the one win. At this particular track over the distance of today's race he's had one start for no placings.
Marasco has had no starts on a Fast track. He has raced 25 times on a Good track for 12 wins, 5 seconds and 1 third.
On a Dead track he has had 2 starts for just the one win. Marasco has had no starts on a Slow or Heavy track and has won races from m to m. Harvey and came out of barrier 2 and carried 60 kilograms.
He won the race by 1. Pike and came out of barrier 3 and carried 60 kilograms. Marasco finished 2. Pike and came out of barrier 1 and carried 59 kilograms.
When using a form guide you also need to be aware of common abbreviations used to denote various factors in a horse's recent form line.
For example; 1 - Mercury Rising last 5 starts finished between 1st and 9th 2 - Peter Pan last start finished further back than 9th 3 - s Apocolypse resuming from a spell 4 - s3 Fortress has had one run from a spell 5 - f Peacemaker fell last start 6 - p Acronym pulled up last start 7 - l Green Mile lost rider last start.