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Official ratings and weight – am I just completely daft?

Home Forums Horse Racing Official ratings and weight – am I just completely daft?

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  • #20898
    • Total Posts 5

    Yesterday I read a piece in the Guardian saying that Watergate’s chances of winning at Folkestone were hampered by the fact that he had went up 6lbs. The Racing Post itself said that it should give a good account of itself despite this increase in the weights. It was also Barry Dennis’ Bismarck of the day.

    When I checked the weight it was carrying, though, it was actually carrying LESS than it had during its last run. Having carried 11-3 when scoring at Folkestone last time, it was now carrying 11-2. It was its official rating that had increased, from 94 to 100. This was the six pounds that people had been talking about before. It had actually carried more previously: 11-12 when second on two occasions, though its official rating during this time was still 94.

    Why should this increase hamper the horse’s chance of winning? It’s not actually carrying any more weight, it’s just an arbitrary number, yet people use such a dramatic increase as evidence that its chances of winning this time are significantly less than last time.

    • Total Posts 28423

    Yes Tietam,

    You are completely daft. :lol:

    Don’t be embarrassed it is one of the questions most often asked. There are threads on here which answer it thoroughly. Am sure someone will find a link for you. If not will be back to explain.

    Value Is Everything
    Old Applejack
    • Total Posts 209

    The BHA’s guide to handicapping may be useful … Guide2.doc

    In essence, the weight a horse carries in a handicap is always detemined by its rating in comparison to the topweight.

    So if horse A is officially rated 100, and horse B is rated 105, horse B will carry five pounds more. If horse B is the highest rated horse in the race, then he will carry the top weight as determined by the conditions of the race. So in this example if horse B carries 11st 10, then horse A carries 11st 5.

    Say horse A wins and his handicap mark is raised by 5, to 105. In his next race, he comes up against horse C, who is rated 110. So again, horse A will carry 5 pounds less than horse C. Horse C is topweight on 11st 10, so horse A is again on 11st 5.

    So even if ratings increase, the actual amount of weight the horse carries is dependent on where it sits in the ratings compared to the opposition.

    Hope that makes sense!

    Slowly Away
    • Total Posts 401

    Yes……….the Official Rating determines the weight to be carried relative to all the other horses

    It’s the relative weight compared to the other horses that matters

    • Total Posts 4704

    Precisely correct.

    • Total Posts 5

    Thanks for the help.

    In this case, what is it about Watergate’s chances of winning that are less likely when compared to when the horse was 6lbs lower in the handicap?

    Is this to do with the fact that it was now running in a handicap for horses rated 0-110 as opposed to his previous race where he was in a race for horses rated 0-105?

    Here’s Watergate’s profile: … horse_form

    Apologies if this all sounds slightly newbie, but I am just introducing myself to this sport!

    • Total Posts 4704

    Precisely. Also he’s run off an OR of 100+ 7 times over both hurdles and fences and failed on every occasion.

    Don’t be scared to ask any questions, any of us would be very happy to answer them.

    • Total Posts 8979

    Additional weight carried (realtive to other horses, will slow a horse down.

    So, imagine if horse A meets horse B in a handicap – both rated 110 and horse A wins by a neck.

    Next time they meet Horse A has been ‘put up 10lbs’ by the handicapper. His ‘official rating’ is now 120.

    Now, in a handicap, Horse A would carry 10lbs more than Horse B – regardless of the amount of weight they carry. So, if Horse A had 9st 7lbs, horse B would carry 8st 11lbs. If Horse A had 9st 3lbs, Horse B would have 8st 7lbs. The difference between teh two would be the 10lbs.

    In theory, having to carry 10lbs more would ‘slow down’ Horse A such that Horse B would beat it.

    So, a horse whose official rating has gone up is disadvantaged in future races. He or she may still win next time, but they are less likely to than if they were still racing off their previous rating.

    So, when a horse is raised 6lbs it is often enough to slow them down such that they don’t win next time.

    But not always…of course!

    • Total Posts 5

    Aha! I’ve just had a brain wave and understood it. It’s all to do with how much weight everyone else is carrying in relation to that particular horse. I understand it perfectly now.

    Another quickie – why was it only its official rating that was increased, and not the actual weight that it was carrying? Why do they sometimes come at once, in that your official rating AND the weight that you’re carrying go up, and sometimes it’s only the official rating?

    Also, what’s more likely to prevent a horse running quite as well next time – an increase in its official rating or an increase in the rating?

    • Total Posts 4704

    Stop asking questions, none of us care, find them out yourself.

    No, seriously, Watergate ran off 94 in a 0-105 handicap. Let’s say for argument’s sake that the top weight (ie. best horse in the world) was rated 100 so he carries 11-12 and Watergate carries 6lbs less on 11-6. Watergate wins and is raised by 6lbs to 100.

    Now he’s racing in a 0-110 handicap where the highest rated horse in the race is 104. So he carries top weight on 11-12 and Watergate carries 4lbs less (because he’s rated 100, 4 less than the top weight) so he carries 11-8.

    Or let’s say the first paragraph remains the same but in the 0-110 handicap, the top weight is rated 106, so Watergate carries 6lbs less and therefore carries 11-6, exactly the same weight he carries in the first race.

    And it’s the official rating that makes the biggest difference. You can go up in class but if your horse is still improving and the handicapper hasn’t gotten hold of him yet, then your horse may be ‘well in’, so to speak.

    It’s all relative.

    Slowly Away
    • Total Posts 401

    When I checked the weight it was carrying, though, it was actually carrying LESS than it had during its last run. Having carried 11-3 when scoring at Folkestone last time, it was now carrying 11-2. It was its official rating that had increased, from 94 to 100. This was the six pounds that people had been talking about before.

    Your last ‘quickie question’ suggests that you haaven’t understood it !

    In the Folkestone race it ran off 94 and carried 11-3.

    Having gone up 6lbs it now runs off 100 and carries 11-2.

    If it hadn’t gone up 6lbs and was still rated 94 and ran in the same race today it would carry 6lbs less than 11-2, ie it would carry 10-10

    So in effect it’s carrying 6 lbs more in todays race than it would have done if it hadn’t won last time and been put up 6 lbs

    That’s what’s meant by ‘gone up 6 lbs’ relative to all the other horses regardless of the actual weight to be carried today

    Don’t get hung up on actual weights carried – it’s relative weights to the other horses that matter !

    Lone Wolf
    • Total Posts 614

    Tietam. What is important is not the weight they carry, but the difference in weight they carry compared to their opponents.

    Swindon Town vs Man Utd

    Lets say this is a handicap football match. The FA(handicapers) would tell each Man Utd player to carry extra weight, let’s say 2 stone per player to try and make up the difference in ability. Let us say Man Utd still win 3-0.

    Now that they have won, Man Utd go on to face Barcelona. Now UEFA(the handicapers) have told Man Utd players to carry an extra one stone each player. Barcelona then win the match 18-0.

    Using your theory, Man Utd should have thrashed Barcelona because they were carrying less weight than when they beat Swindon.

    • Total Posts 1041

    I agree with the above answers. The race conditions set the weight scale for each race and the actual weight carried doesn’t matter unless you think the horse’s physique wouldn’t be up to carrying the weight set.

    The only thing that matters is the handicap mark and this is something that trainers pay very close attention to when they are are reassessed every Tuesday morning.

    I think that the average, exposed, racehorse has an optimum mark and look closely at this when considering run of the mill handicap races.

    The Racing Post has a Ratings box which show what ratings a horse had on it’s last 6 outings as well as any future mark (if running before a new rating can take effect).

    I like to consider horses which have run well off higher marks in recent runs and am sceptical of horses running off marks which are higher than it’s run to previously.

    • Total Posts 1041

    Sorry I meant to give you the example of Watergate. He had run off 94 (2nd), 95 (6th) and 94 (won) on his previous outings. Now he was running off 100 and you had to consider if he had this much improvement in him. As a 6yo many would have thought he may have but obviously the Guardian was, correctly, warning you of this fact.

    • Total Posts 899

    Unless you know the change in the horse’s body weight then the set change in carried weight is almost irrelevant.
    A horse body weight can change up and down 30 pounds between races.
    In simple terms,a horse going up 10 pounds in the weights can actually be 20 pounds better off = +10 – 30 = -20 pounds
    conversely +10 +30 = 40 pounds pounds worse off and only the trainer with a weigh bridge knows.

    The pace, distance, course shape and going of the race will have a major effects – the first horse may easily overcome it with pounds in hand – the second will be knackered after a few furlongs, but they might be BHA rated exactly the same value.

    Of course the pace information will also be kept from the public. BHA should put an end to this "inside information" scam once and for all.
    It is the main reason why horses keep on having to be rehandicapped to correct for apparent "improved" or "deteriorating" performances which in reality have not changed, as far as the horse’s input is concerned, very much at all.

    Eclipse First
    • Total Posts 1569

    That is what happens when you try to make a science out of something which is an art.

    • Total Posts 182


    The relative weights (handicap ratings) are very important, but the actual weight carried can also matter a lot.

    How a trainer chooses to place a horse helps the analyst work out when it is likely to win, and actual weight can be as important in reading what he or she is doing as the race distance, going and course type.

    In Flat races, anything of 9.10 and above can be considered a heavy weight (in a professional race), and horses dropped a long way in class in handicaps who are set to carry a heavy weight (and a lot more weight than last time out), even if their relative weight (handicap rating) hasn’t changed, are always of interest. Sometimes they win, and one can learn a lot from that (check out Doctor Parkes early last turf season). Sometimes they don’t (ie Bronze Prince last July), and one can learn as much. But one certainly needs to know what one is doing before backing one.

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