Forget about weight in handicaps and focus on ratings instead....

Last Updated: 24.03.2020

Tuesday, 24th March 2020

Forget about weight in handicaps and focus on ratings instead….

We’ve been talking about Richard Fahey for the last few days....

There’s a good reason for that. He’s had a sub-par couple of seasons in the races that we specialize in – the handicaps worth £25k+ to winning connections....

My contention is that he will be sitting on at least some decent handicappers that have been losing plenty of races and which will have dropped down the official scale as a result....

Some of those horses will now be sitting on official ratings from which they can win or get very competitive....

So, it is well worth taking some time to study Richard Fahey in a bit of detail. To learn what we can that might prove useful. And that’s what we’ve been doing.....

But variety is the spice of life. We’ll get back to Richard Fahey – and another specific horse of his that will be worth following this term – tomorrow....

Today, we’ll change the tempo a little and talk a bit about why you should think in terms of ratings rather than weight when it comes to handicap races....

We’ll get on to that shortly. First, a little name and shame....

  • What goes around comes around....

Greetings from South Derbyshire....

We all recognize when we’re being shafted, fobbed-off and taken for fools. We can all see quite clearly when someone doesn’t really value or respect us, refuses to play fair and thinks he can get away with it....

And maybe that guy does get away with it – for a while. But karma often gives these operators a dose of what they have coming. What goes around comes around.... What is good for the goose is good for the gander.... As you sow, so shall you reap....

BT Sport is destined to learn these karmic lessons a little further down the road....

Where Sky Sports are making it easy for viewers to pause subscriptions in the absence of a live sporting programme, BT Sport are merely inviting subscribers to give them a call....

But when BT viewers do call, the phones at BT Sport are not answered. And there is no coherent means of pausing subscriptions on the BT Sport website....

Of course, the current lockdown situation will play a part in those unanswered calls. But it’s a handy state of affairs for BT – who continue to rake in subscription payments from viewers with little or nothing of value to watch and no way of turning it off....

We all prefer fair-play and consideration to stacked decks and exploitation. So, well-played Sky Sports. Let’s hope BT Sport – and other firms refusing to play fair at this time – get what they’ve got coming. And let’s hope they get it good and hard where it hurts most....

  • Handicaps are NOT about weight....

Sometimes people misunderstand how handicap racing works. They get confused about the realities of the subject....

So, I’m going to make a statement now that might surprise you but which will help us get the basics clearly nailed down – just so nobody is in any doubt....

With the exception of when races are set to be run on heavy ground, I don’t give a damn about the amount of weight any horse has to carry in a handicap....

Now, that might seem like quite a statement coming from an analyst and punter who specializes in the big handicap races....

After all, aren’t handicap races all about weight?

Isn’t the amount of weight carried by horses the very thing that equalizes their chances and creates a notional level playing field?

The old saying tells us that weight stops trains. Isn’t it the weight a horse has to carry that ultimately gets it beaten?

I’ll take those questions and answer them one at a time....

No.... No.... No....

Forget about weight. Handicap racing is all about official ratings....

A horse’s rating should always be your primary focus. The weight the horse carries is a mere side issue....

  • Look at it this way....

How many times have you heard some bloke on TV say this or something like it?

‘Against The Crowd is going to find life hard now he’s gone up in the weights.’

I must have heard that statement hundreds if not thousands of times. That’s no exaggeration. And it makes no more sense every time I hear it....

Why?

Think about  it. Just because a horse is improving and moving up the ladder doesn’t mean it carries more weight....

A horse rated 85 can win a 0-85 handicap off top weight (9-12)....

The handicapper might then revise that horse’s rating to say 92....

The horse no longer qualifies for 0-85 races. He won’t get into 0-90 races either....

His new rating means he must go up in class and run in 0-95 races or races for horses rated 0 to 100....

In a race for horses rated 0 to 100, a horse rated 92 is unlikely to be topweight....

If the top-rated horse is rated 100 and is down to carry 9-12, then a horse rated 92 will carry 8lbs less (9-04)....

In other words, the 92 rated horse has gone up in the ratings and is now carrying less weight as a result....

If he loses, it isn’t because he is carrying more weight. If he loses, it is because his revised rating is such that he cannot handle the hotter competition at the higher level he is racing at....

  • The rating is the key....

The official rating horses are running off should always be your primary consideration when analysing handicap races....

Don’t worry about what is carrying the top weight. Or the second top weight. Or the bottom weight. Just focus instead on the official rating of the individual participants....

Is today’s rating it at the top-end of the horse’s range?

Is it a career high?

Has he won off his current rating?

Has he won a handicap off his current rating?

Has he been competitive off this kind of rating?

What is his strike rate off this kind of rating – and off ratings a couple of pounds either side of it?

Seeking the answers to those questions (and questions like them) enables you to take a clear view of whether or not a horse is handicapped to win today; whether he needs to improve on what has gone before; or whether he is too high in the ratings and needs to lose and come down the scale before he can get competitive again....

Weight means very little. The official rating means everything....

Every horse can win a handicap off a low-enough rating regardless of weight carried....

And every horse will reach a point in the ratings off which he can’t get competitive or win a handicap. And that too is regardless of the weight he has to carry.... 

Weight doesn’t mean a damn thing – with the exception of races on desperate ground. The official rating means everything....

Forget the first. Focus ALWAYS on the latter....

It’s a small point. But one that is frequently missed by punters who bet in handicaps – and one worth taking onboard....

  • The final word….

That’s all from me for today....

I’ll be back tomorrow with more handicap-focused insight, analysis and intelligence....

In the meantime, keep well and stay safe....

Until tomorrow. Stay tuned.

Nick Pullen

Against the Crowd