THE Handicapping System
Racing Queensland (RQ) utilises the Ratings Based Handicapping System (RBH). The RBH template accommodates the diversified standard of racing within Queensland. A template has been designed, which provides handicappers the flexibility necessary to accommodate the various racing clusters within Queensland, at the same time delivering ratings that provide for greater transparency to the handicapping process. The Queensland RBH system has been created to accommodate all races except maiden and two-year-olds. Maiden horses are not allotted a rating until they have won a race.
The Queensland RBH system is different from other jurisdictions, where every rating point represents 0.5kg difference. If this process was applied horses would be receiving the same weight penalty “across the board” whether it was at a high or a low class of racing, metropolitan, provincial or country for example.
The fairness of the Queensland rating system template is in the inbuilt “sliding scale”. Rating figures with a plus sign allows for horses to be penalised less in high class races (metropolitan and midweek metropolitan) for winning lower class races (provincial 2 and country 1 and 2).
The movement of a horse’s rating openly shows owners and trainers (and all interested parties) the handicapper’s impression of the merit of a horse’s performance from one race start to another.
Following each performance the handicapper shall carefully consider to what extent (if any) a horse shall have a rating change. Rating changes will reflect the standard of the performance as determined by the handicapper and the template shall display to the user what that rating amendment means in terms of actual weight change in any race the horse may be nominated. The major benefit of RBH is that it provides a reference guide to owners and trainers prior to nominating.
The actual weight a horse may be allotted in a race is subject to rules that govern the minimum top weight in a race. This may well change the “template” weight of a horse but it will clearly show the relativity that will be determined between every horse nominated.
Ballot applications are simple and fair. All horses on the template are treated as mature age male horses. This allows all horses to be treated equally in the ballot if performances are of equal value, disregarding age or sex.
In all mixed sex races, fillies and mares shall receive a weight reduction of 2kg from their rating weight. In races where 2yo and 3yo horses race against older (4yo+) horses they will receive a weight allowance from their rating figures depending on what time of year the race is run. (See attachment 5).
All assessments leading to rating amendments are carried out with the standard of performances being fresh in mind and taking into account all the relative deliberations and considerations of handicappers. Unsuitable distances, track conditions, interference, being slow away, a wide passage in transit, saddle slips, bleeding attacks and horses pulling up lame are all factors that might contribute to a horse’s rating not being lowered. Owners and trainers are able to access their horse’s new rating within two working days of the result of a race.
Whilst RBH offers many advantages to stakeholders there will be times when rating adjustments out of a race might not have every runner finishing behind another, meeting such runners on better terms out of the race. Horses that are obviously suited over more ground cannot necessarily expect to have ratings lowered following an average performance in a sprint. Also horses that have a history of performing well in the provincial and country areas and are not competitive at metropolitan level cannot expect to necessarily have their rating reduced following a poor performance at a metropolitan meeting.
The template has been designed to be fair to all. In most instances a penalty for a performance at a high level will result in a higher penalty in the lower level. Conversely, a higher penalty in a lower standard race will be less at the higher standard.
In order to overcome unforeseen circumstances such as clarification of form and to maintain flexibility when necessary, it is imperative that the rating or allocated weight of a horse may be amended or varied based on weight scales for competitive reasons i.e. at nomination stage all ratings are deemed to be ‘interim’ until the race is weighted. This is especially relevant when results are affected by stewards’ inquiries or other extenuating circumstances
To ensure the handicapping procedures are aligned with the objectives of RQ and are also sensitive to our black-type racing schedule, group and listed races are not included within the RBH template.
It is in the best interests of racing that handicappers have the discretion to take into account all the considerations and deliberations that are necessary to frame weights in our group and listed races. With the increased volume of interstate participation in these races the objective will always be to attract the best possible fields without compromising the principles of handicapping. Ratings will still provide the foundation for these races however and offer a guide to nominators.