Horse Racing is divided into races that are Handicaps and races which are "conditions" races or Non Handicaps. The difference between a Handicap and a Non Handicap is that the weights in a Handicap Race are allotted to the different horses so as to give each horse an eaual chance of winning, regardless of ability. The necessity to do this has spurned a whole industry based on "handicapping" i.e. assessing the relative form of horses so as to calculate which horses have an above average chance at their weight of landing a win. The simple fact that a Horse has been given a very low weight does not necessarily mean it has a better chance of winning the race
Handicap Horse Racing - Introduction
In general the weight that a horse has to carry in a race has more effect the longer the distance the weight has to be carried. So in a Jumping Meeting where the race is 3 miles, extra weight may well have a big effect on the chances of a horse which is badly handicapped with lots of extra weight as compared with the other runners in the race. However on the flat over short distances e.g. in sprints of less than a mile, the weights carried can have much less of an effect. It should also be borne in mind that in flat racing over shorter distances the "draw" can have a big effect especially where there are sharp corners and big fields. For example consider the position of horses drawn in a stall furthest away from the rail, where the course has a sharp left bend near the start or just before the run-in to the finish. A horse in this situation has got to get right across to the rail as soon as possible, and in the process is running somewhat further in distance than those horses with an inside rail position.
Handicaps And The Official HandicapperThe actual weights that a horse is set to carry are decided by the team of Handicappers employed by the British Horse Racing Board or other Racing Board in which ever country the race is run. Handicapping is an art and a great deal of work and data crunching goes on to try and decide which horses should have what weights.
Handicaps - Private HandicapsThe purpose of a Private Handicap is like a second opinion from the official Handicapper. This is where private Ratings can come into their own, especially if a horse runs well after the weights have been set by the Handicapper but before the race takes place. Good ratings calculations systems can calculate a rating for each horse based on its previous runs and this can provide serious punters a distinct advantage when deciding which horses to back in the race.
Beating The Handicap: - The Trainers ArtA first class trainer will always be looking out for ways to "trick" the handicapper into giving a lower weighting for the horse than is justified given its ability. Essentially the way it works is that if a Horse does badly - or apparently does badly!! - then the weight allotted in its subsequent races with be lower. If you can make a horse do badly then you will get successively lower weights. However the trainer knows all the time what the ability of the horse is. This however is not cheating - it is simply the trainers art. Some trainers would deny that they do this, but anyone who has watched the horse racing scene for anytime can fairly easily spot where "something is going on".
All horses have ideal ground and conditions they need to perform to the best of their ability. They also need to be at the peak of their fitness to perform well. So if you run a horse on the wrong type of conditions e.g on a left handed course when the horse needs a right handed or on unsuitable ground such as good to firm when a horse likes good to soft etc then it’s likely that the horse will perform badly and as a result you will get lower weights for future races. When you are ready for the "right" race, you can simply switch the jockey, wait for the right conditions and bingo you have a win when no one else was expecting it!!
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