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Handicapper does chasing no favours

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  • #7381
    pilgarlic
    Participant
    • Total Posts 574

    Another erratic handicapping performance for the Grand National.
    He`s made ricks with Comply or Die and Cloudy Lane ( never mind how
    he ran on the day). He might well point to subsequent improvement
    but on the announcement of the weights these stood out.
    With such a lot riding on the handicap, surely a mean figure from a panel of 3 ( for instance) should iron out a few anomalies.
    Not sure compression of the handicap has brought them the class
    animals they seem to crave either.

    Smith also seems determined to punish a good performance at Aintree.
    Factor in a few pounds for the Aintree factor by all means but he goes
    way beyond that.

    On a more general point of chase handicapping ,the perception that
    many trainers have that they need to run their chasers in hurdles to
    avoid being hammered must be leading to small fields in chases.

    He`s also very slow to cut some slack to old horses running consistently
    but without a prayer of winning ( Too Forward springs to mind)

    The policy/ attitude seems detrimental to racing to me

    Major rethink needed IMHO

    #156332
    Happy JackHappy Jack
    Participant
    • Total Posts 516

    In virtually every jumps handicap a horse receives a penalty for a win after the publication of the weights. This is not so in the Grand National and I’ve no idea why.

    The compression of the handicap seems to have been getting more and more exaggerated in the last couple of years and it is beginning to get mildly ridiculous. Can anyone remember when, and why, this method of handicapping the race was brought in? Was it to make the race "fairer" for horses at the top of the handicap, given the paucity of top-weights winning in recent decades. Answers on a postcard please, because I’ve no idea.

    I’d be very interested to see how Phil Smith will frame the handicap in 2009 if in the unlikely instance that Denman is entered. If it were a normal handicap, everything rated 158 or lower (judged on Denman’s current rating) would be out of the handicap (i.e. around 95% of today’s field). How "well in" would Smith dare to make Denman?

    #156342
    cormack15cormack15
    Keymaster
    • Total Posts 8782

    Given the length of time between the declaration of the weights for the National and the race it would seem common sense to allocate penalties for horses winning after the weights are issued.

    Cloudy Lane and Comply or Die were both clearly targeted at the race but were both only ‘switched on’ after the issuing of the weights. This, and the practise of getting National runners fit by running them over hurdles and thus protecting their handicap marks, have been and will continue to be recent features of the race unless something gives.

    The argument against penalties might be that it would reduce the ante-post interest in the race and/or that it might make the race less attractive to the likes of Cloudy Lane and Comply or Die. There certainly seems a clear strategy to attract a better class of horse but the race was just as interesting and just as good a spectacle in years gone by when the quality of horse in the race was not perhaps of the same average standard it is today.

    The worry about the race is that it’s turning into an event which may always be at the mercy of a handicap good thing which has been laid out, either by failing to show it’s merit until after the weights have been issued or by hunting round for a season or two in Ireland before a prep hurdle race or two.

    On Denman, If I owned him I’d enter him whether I intended running or not as it would be worth the entry fee just to see how they would deal with it.

    #156391
    davidjohnson
    Member
    • Total Posts 4492

    Cloudy Lane and Comply or Die were both clearly targeted at the race but were both only ‘switched on’ after the issuing of the weights.

    That’s unfair. The 2 horses finished first and second in the Tommy Whittle Chase at Haydock in December when they pulled clear with other Festival Handicap winner High Chimes. In fact, had Cloudy Lane not been ‘switched on’ that day as you put it, he wouldn’t have got into the National.

    #156393
    Running ReinRunning Rein
    Participant
    • Total Posts 185

    You need to look at the handicapping of the Grand national within a broader picture and at the heart of a strategy to put the Aintree showpiece (UK’s only globally known jump race) back at the forefront of the season.

    The handicapping is framed to allow a better class of horse to compete and is part of a group of measures;
    Better prize money
    Safer Ground
    Redesigned fences
    Treatment of top weights

    The Gold Cup was worth £182k less to the winner than the National (up £51k) this year and Aintree have stated they would like a £1m first prize within 10 years.
    If they get Denman next year (or the year after maybe) for a prize of over £1/2 Million they will be a long way down the road. The structure of the handicap is an important part of this strategy and is unlikely to change.
    Its been a big success after all.

    #156411
    cormack15cormack15
    Keymaster
    • Total Posts 8782

    DJ – I accept what you’re saying re- Cloudy Lane and COD and the Tommy Whittle. Not my best ever argument.

    Running Rein – “The structure of the handicap is an important part of this strategy and is unlikely to change.
    Its been a big success after all.”

    In what respect has it been a big success? Better racecourse attendance? Better TV viewing figures? Better betting turnover?

    Why is it important to have ‘a better class of horse’ competing? It’s not a championship race, it’s a handicap for staying chasers who stay extreme distances. So long as 40 such animals turn up and the handicap is structured to ensure it is as competitive as possible then that’s the recipe you need isn’t it?

    #156481
    Running ReinRunning Rein
    Participant
    • Total Posts 185

    In all the respects that you shrewdly mention…yes it has been a success.
    Its only a couple of dozen years ago that Aintree was a shabby track, the National a moderate handicap and the meeting a unstructured afterthought.

    if you want the politics…think BHA, racinguk, turf tv and the sale of the tote.

    if its just the race …then i dont see how the old way of things with half the field out of the handicap and the likes of Bobbyjoe arriving after an obscure hurdling campaign can be as more ‘competitive’. A number of horses who ran very well this year were only there because connections had to ensure a higher official mark. So not just the National but many other races also benefit

    Moderate competitive racing has its place…but when you have something as wonderful as the National its worth striving for the best.
    Finally take a look at the new grandstands the outstanding prize money, the daily sellout and the 200 odd countries taking the race and ask yourself again if its been a success.

    #156547
    pilgarlic
    Participant
    • Total Posts 574

    Well they clearly haven`t succeeded if the horses at the top of the handicap are good old performers with retirement beckoning and decent
    handicappers that Mr Smith has seen fit to weight punitively for
    showing track form.

    The perceived improvement in quality stems mainly from a much greater
    number of Irish trained runners of a certain level of ability being entered
    possibly reflecting the boom years of the Irish economy.

    The redevelopment of Aintree as a course probably stems from
    acquiring good sponsors with a longer term commitment and from
    some outstanding contributions from the likes of Charles Barnett rather
    than on a point of handicapping IMHO

    #156560
    carvillshill
    Participant
    • Total Posts 2778

    Another erratic handicapping performance for the Grand National.
    He`s made ricks with Comply or Die and Cloudy Lane ( never mind how
    he ran on the day). He might well point to subsequent improvement
    but on the announcement of the weights these stood out.
    With such a lot riding on the handicap, surely a mean figure from a panel of 3 ( for instance) should iron out a few anomalies.
    Not sure compression of the handicap has brought them the class
    animals they seem to crave either.

    Smith also seems determined to punish a good performance at Aintree.
    Factor in a few pounds for the Aintree factor by all means but he goes
    way beyond that.

    On a more general point of chase handicapping ,the perception that
    many trainers have that they need to run their chasers in hurdles to
    avoid being hammered must be leading to small fields in chases.

    He`s also very slow to cut some slack to old horses running consistently
    but without a prayer of winning ( Too Forward springs to mind)

    The policy/ attitude seems detrimental to racing to me

    Major rethink needed IMHO

    I don’t remember anyone suggesting here or anywhere else that the subsequent winner had been let in lightly when the weights came out. Sure a few good judges thought Cloudy Lane was well in, but that was more down to his potential to improve than any major rick by the Handicapper. Your post smacks of hindsight and would carry more weight had you expressed those views at the time.
    The Aintree factor is harder to quantify- sure he takes account of it but probably only to the degree of a pound or two: Mr Pointment got 9lbs for winning the Beecher-he’d surely have gotten at least 7 or 8 for winning a similar valuable staying chase somewhere else.
    The point about smaller fields in chases is a bit extreme- it probably only applies to a handful of horses every season who have the National as their target and it’s only until the weights are published anyway- it has no substantial effect.
    Your point about him failing to drop the older more exposed runners enough appears to jar with your complaint about the compression of the handicap- surly it is mostly the older exposed horses who generally head the weights (Beef or Salmon). I’m all for him dropping them a bit to encourage them to run as I am for the classier horses getting a break for the same reason.
    The handicap has gotten compressed more because of connections of horses in the weights being more inclined to have a go since the course modifications with horses that have little hope of completing (Turko, Contraband and No Full come to mind) more so than as a result of changes in handicapping.

    On others points about penalties, I’ve long argued against change on this here- for me the prospect of horses ending up well-in adds to the interst of early-closing races and in the case of the National, it could hardly be said that it’s been dominated by well-in animals in recent years.

    #156572
    Anonymous
    Inactive
    • Total Posts 17732

    Another well handicapped horse wins, this time the biggest handicap of the year at a well supported 7/1 jt fav, and yet another thread on TRF complaining about such results, and calling for changes to the system?
    No, I didn’t have a bet in the race, but surely this kind of result is better overall for the punter than some unconsidered rag romping home?
    If I ever complain about one of these, please shoot me. :wink:

    #156731
    Aragorn
    Member
    • Total Posts 2208

    I agree with Cormack.

    You’re off the mark with your comments pilgarlic as its very easy to comment when both horses came out afterwards and won well which gave every on a big hint.

    I think Penalties should be introduced however. Even if they are only minor.

    #156769
    pilgarlic
    Participant
    • Total Posts 574

    Before you all get too carried away with talking about subsequent
    improvement. I would refer you all to my post of the 5th Feb on National
    weights. I was not the only one to mention Comply or Die.

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