Australian Horse Racing
We all want to be competitive in everything we do. And no more so that with punting on horse racing.
Success in punting on horses, in fact most things reduces down to an information war - the people with the best information make the smart moves.
Books have been and still are the best source of general information, and this applies at least as much in the art of racehorse selection and staking as in any other field.
Author Paul Segar has produced textbooks which cover all aspects of punting. The books alone stand as a complete reference but also provide 'food for thought'. You can develop / improve your own ideas as well as learn some new techniques.
Each book is written in plain English with plenty of practical examples in each chapter. Browse the contents of each book or email for further information, if required.
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Handicapping around AustraliaTasmanian events are rated by the Victorian handicappers.
In Western Australia the same basic system is used with a few minor differences. Benchmark races are typically shown with a ‘+’ added to the end of the rating. For example a Benchmark 74+ race is a benchmark race for 74 and over horses and is a basic indicator of the race standard. It can consist of horses both rated above and below the benchmark figure – the same system as already discussed. The difference with these events is that horses with a rating of 74 (or below) will carry the minimum weight with every point above this value carrying an extra 0.5 kg. Minimum top weight values also apply if the limit top weight is not achieved and at least 58 kg must be carried in these events. The other Ratings based races are handicapped as those run in other states.
South Australia uses a similar scheme as Western Australia with regard to its benchmark races and will call the benchmark event a 68+ as an example. The other ratings based events are similar to other states.
Northern Territory uses a similar approach to the others states. ACT uses the NSW approach.
Queensland racing uses a combination of the new benchmark racing system and the older class 1 to 6 approach with the greater majority of restricted races using the older system. Benchmark figures for Queensland horses are readily available for these class 1 to 6 events so handicapping anomalies, if any, can be seen from published figures. A basic benchmark figure can be determined from the given benchmark figures, if required.
The benefits of the new system are many and the examples in the R0-55 case study highlight some of these benefits.
The R 0-55 ratings band (or 55 for short)The ever despised 55 class can be used to highlight the opportunities afforded to our racing campaigners on a day to day basis as a result of the new handicapping system. As already discussed, the 55 class is restricted to horses with a benchmark rating of 55 or less and for most punters these races are a lottery at best.
Typically 55 class races consist of horses at the end of their racing careers – mere shadows of their former brilliance. Other entrants are simply unable to race competitively in any higher grade and occasionally a horse with potential ‘accidently’ competes in this type of race. No world beaters and very few will ever progress into a 60 class race or higher. Many of these uncompetitive horses have already won 4 or 5 races making most of the class 1- 6 pathway unavailable.
Not good you might say. Quite the contrary. This event type is perfect for these horses and is effectively their ‘open’ handicap. Why? Unlike the old class system where a horse would win a class 1 and then race unsuccessfully in a class 2 or higher event, the 55 class race is available to any horse with a benchmark rating of 55 or lower – for as long as that horse is racing.
A horse winning a 55 race will of course have its benchmark increased and once its rating is over 55 it can no longer run in a 55 class event. Most probably it will move into 60 class race. Now the horse, this one of limited ability will run in the 60 class race and fail until finally its benchmark reduces again to 55 or less. Then it will again be a candidate for another 55 class event and another possible victory.
Any horse can now move up or down the benchmark scale according to its current and previous form and is no longer limited to the class 1 - 6 system. Of course the class 1 - 6 system is still integrated into modern racing and uses the same rules and limitations. As before, once a horse wins 2 races, it is no longer eligible for a class 1, etc. The new system allows a horse to run in a 55 class (and any other class) and win as many races as it can and it is still eligible for that race standard so long as its rating is 55 or less. Its total number of wins is of no importance. This feature is particularly useful for horses that have been very successful in their earlier career but are no longer as talented – these horses now have suitable races to compete in.
The astute trainer of this capable but limited galloper will not always run his charge in a 55 class race but will mix it up with runs in a 50, perhaps a 60 or a 65, a class 3 or even a 70 class event in an effort to maintain the lowest possible rating to improve the horse’s chances. Handicappers as suggested are aware of all the possible class moves that can be tried and will alter the benchmark figure accordingly. For most horses, computer software will determine benchmark changes. It is therefore a matter of the knowledgeable trainer placing her charge as best she can and sometimes the horse will race in completely inappropriate events to simply blur the overall rating.
Most trainers have a plan for their charge – the plan may be little more than a guideline but following the same approach that led to a win in the past is typical.
Example: A particular horse last campaign won a 55 class race 5th up over 1400m on a dead track 11 weeks after its first up run. The trainer will therefore look at his planner and aim to place the horse in an appropriate race at the same time in the preparation, perhaps 10 weeks into its new campaign. The plan will be altered/modified according to how well the horse progresses and depending on the progress the plan can change completely.
Most 55 class horses are unlikely to improve from one campaign to another and so if it won a 55 class race last campaign carrying 55.5 kg then it is unlikely to perform well in a similar race carrying 58.5 kg first up next campaign. Often a horse performs well and find its weight increased significantly due to wins or places. At the start of the next campaign, the horse not only suffers from lack of race fitness but additionally the extra burden from successes of the last campaign. The horse hasn’t improved at all during the spell and naturally fails, quite often badly in these first few runs. This is often the reason some horses have a good season followed by a moderate one and then another useful season. 6 or 7 poor runs may be needed to reduce the weight sufficiently back to its ‘fighting’ or preferred weight and also return it to its best racing class.
The canny trainer not only wants to place her charge in the correct race, distance and track condition but also with the best weight, barrier, jockey and so on. Options include apprentice claims but often racing the horse in higher class events will also reduce the rating enough to achieve the required objective.
These comments apply to all levels in this new restricted class scheme. Some competitors will work through the complete system and race successfully in open company. Most horses will reach a threshold point and more or less remain in that class before later in that same career dropping back to a lesser class. Flexibility is the key word in the new system and allows older horses the chance to still compete in lower grade races.
Now this is great as always in theory. And if you were a trainer you could follow your team of horses and place them accordingly. As a punter there are literally thousands of horses running every week and so mapping out a plan for every horse is an impossible task. The same comments apply to handicappers following the same thousands of horses running each year and so as a result computer software will in most cases determine benchmark ratings and weights for upcoming races. As with every handicapping system, the aim is to find the well handicapped runners. The astute trainer and punter therefore can gain an opportunity from well weighted horses running in the new system and further allow the shrewd form student the opportunity to avoid the badly weighted conveyance.
The new restricted class system is a fair system and provides ample opportunities for all horses in the horse racing population using the old class 1 to 6 races and the new benchmark and ratings based handicapping system. Overall, congratulations to the team who constructed the new system.
Next Article: Benchmark Handicapping In Australia - Part 2