Horse Handicappers Keep the Races Enjoyable to Watch!

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Guest Post: International Correspondent

The handicapping for horses takes into account the ability of each animal, and places it into a Class. This ensures that the horses are evenly matched.

How Horse Handicaps are Structured

There is an extremely well established programme in place for handicap horses, both over jumps and on flats. Handicaps are contested by both the best and worst horses in the country, and, as a result, are split into a range of classes: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7, with Class 1 being the best and Class 7 being the worst. This makes working out odds easier, and benefits everyone on the track and off.

The Reason Handicaps are Split Into Classes

Handicaps are split in this way so that horses of similar ability levels contest one another in the races. For example, a Class 7 handicap will only be open to horses that have been rated 0 – 50, which will exclude those rated 51 and higher. This ensures that the handicap is competitive, and sees horses of similar ability competing against one another. There are variations in the Class system as to the grade of horse that can compete, too. For example, in Class 5 company, some handicaps may be set at 0 – 65, others at 0 – 70.

 What Happens When Horses Improve

 If you enjoy playing the online pokies NZ has to offer, you will often find that, as you get better at playing one type of game, you will broaden your horizons and investigate other types in order to find those that remain challenging as well as fun. Similarly, if a horse improves hugely and starts winning a number of races, the handicapper will raise that horse’s rating in order to see it facing tougher opposition. If a horse wins twice in the company of Class 6 animals, the handicapper will want to make sure that it faces Class 5 company or better on its next start.

Winning Penalties in Place to Factor in Reassessment

Handicappers at the British Horseracing Authority, for example, re-evaluate horse handicap marks each Tuesday, which creates the need for a winning penalty to be in place. If a horse wins a race on a Wednesday, it will not be due to for reassessment for another six days, which could allow it to continue racing and winning off of the same mark in the meantime.

It is for this reason that standardised penalties are in place for winning races: 6lbs on the flat, and 7lbs over the jump.

This rule applies to nearly all races, and makes sure that horses are not able to abuse the handicap system. A horse may well see so much improvement that it can win twice in the same week, with penalties totalling 12 lbs, before a handicapper has the chance to reassess it.

Handicapping Ensures Horses are Evenly Matched

This handicapping is what ensures that horses are equally matched when it comes to racing, and that the outcomes that punters, owners, trainers, jockeys, and spectators see are those that are reflective of its ability to run against animals of a similar overall capacity. Seeing a horse of astounding ability compete against one without any would not be very enjoyable, and handicapping in this method sees the sport remain an exciting one to watch.

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About Editor

Rich Nilsen is a 15-time qualifier to the National Horseplayers Championship (NHC), an event he has cashed in four times. He was the first player to finish in the top 10 twice. He was also a winner of a $24,000 package into Kentucky Derby Betting Championship I. A former executive with, Rich is also a graduate of the University of Louisville Equine Business Program. He is founder of, a site devoted to horse racing education and promotion.

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