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  • Jul 12, 2014
  • Updated: 12:32am
SportRacing

Taking an age to get to grips with the handicapping system

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 26 September, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 26 September, 2012, 2:46am
 

Dear handicapping department. That's right, it's the handicappers' turn again on behalf of all those who can't quite get to grips with the quirks of the five-pound weight-for-age allowance for Northern Hemisphere three-year-olds for the first half of the year and which mysteriously vanishes in the second half.

What we'd like to see is it mysteriously vanish for the other half of the year, too, then we don't get oddities like the Percy Jackson rating on the weekend.

Percy had been "rated" 76 at his last run in July, finished sixth and was now rated 75. Well, that all seems in order until delving deeper you realise it means Percy was actually raised four points for that sixth, as the new rating was a legitimate one which didn't include the five-pound allowance.

So, when he was running off 76 in July, he was actually carrying the same weight as the horse rated 71 so he, too, in effect, was running off 71.

Though the need of an allowance to offset age disadvantages doesn't seem unreasonable, we just can't quite get our heads around why building it into the horse's start-off rating is so difficult and we just go from there.

That is, when Percy arrives and is rated 74 but with an asterisk and an allowance that sees him really off 69, why we can't just call it 69 right then and there, and throw out the hocus pocus that makes people's heads explode.

Trying to make it all seem comprehensible is one of racing's challenges as it chases new fans. (At least tonight's 105-80 race at Happy Valley carries a Class Two tag to bring it into line with other extended band races but then that's only so the prize-money can be lower.)

And while we're on age allowances, one of our Chinese language counterparts tossed out a worthy question this week - why is it that unraced Southern Hemisphere horses start off the same 52 rating, regardless of whether they are three or four?

That's one for Nigel Gray and the lads to chew over, but we do feel the need to support them on one other thing: Andy.

Andy Leung Ting-wah was quick to declare the handicappers had dropped Daily Double much too far down the ratings, after - take careful note of that word - after he had won on Sunday.

An eight-year-old with 50 starts for three wins, none of them in the past two years and which had placed once all last season? Really? And, despite going from 24 to 18 during the summer, he was in effect only down four points on Sunday - the structure of the race meant he ran off the equivalent of 20.

We're siding with Nigel on that one and do hope the handicappers don't take Andy's comments too much to heart and get nervous again about dropping old horses.

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