Day At The Track

Points handicapping system to be trialled

09:10 AM 17 Jun 2016 NZST
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With the declining number of horses being bred, better utilising the available pool of racing stock will be crucial to maintaining the code’s racing numbers. While funding and stakes will be important factors in this, handicapping and programming will be equally crucial. Racing “like with like” and creating equal opportunities across the horse population are two underlying principles that the Handicapping Sub-Committee consider in reviewing the current system.

Over the last six weeks, there have been two Handicapping Sub-Committee meetings where it has been clearly apparent that there is no such thing as a perfect Handicapping system. The system is developed and continually monitored by the Handicapping Sub-Committee, who make recommendations thereon to the Board.

Current Handicapping Sub-Committee members are: Rob Lawson (Chair), Allan Brown, Ken Barron, John Green, Brian Rabbitt, Kevin Smith, Jason Broad and Andrew Morris. This is a group of experienced racing people with a broad knowledge of the industry. As an industry we can have confidence that good strategic and analytical thought (with plenty of robust discussion) is applied to consider solutions that are best for the overall industry.

From its recent meetings, the Sub-Committee has come to the conclusion that with the changing nature of our industry dynamics, the current system was not catering to the horse population as well as possible, particularly in creating opprtunities for horses at the the lower end of the system. The Sub-Committee believes there is an appetite for change in the industry and that there is merit in trialling a points system in the North Island, prior to a possible national application at a later date.

Accordingly from 1 August 2016, a points-based handicpping system will be trialled for at least three months in the North Island. While the finer details for this are currently being finalised, the draft details of this as developed by the Sub-Committee on 3 June are as follows:

Proposed Guidelines and Principles:

• All horses start with a rating of 50 points

• Lowest possible rating is 35 points

• Maximum possible rating is 130 points

• Winners of races < $9K will receive 8 points

• Winners of races >= $9K will receive 10 points 

• Winners of premier races ($20K minimum) will receive between 10 - 12 points 

• Winners of Group/Listed races will receive between 10-15 points 

• Handicapper discretion to vary any winner’s points allocation

• Placed (2nd, 3rd, 4th) horses receive 0 points - though discretion for Handicapper to vary rating up or down if warranted 

• Unplaced horses (5th to last) will lose at least 1 point 

• Handicapper discretion to decrease losing horses up to 3 points if warranted

• Winners of junior or invited drivers races receive half points - minimum of 4 points

• A horse can win one such drivers’ race in its career at half points

• 2YO’s racing their own age group in races up to $15K receive half points - minimum of 4 points

• 2YO’s will still be eligible for this concession if nominated for a 2YO race and transferred to another race

• 3YO’s will receive half points for every second win in races for stakes under $15K - minimum of 4 points

• Fillies and Mares racing their own sex in races up to $15K receive half points - minimum of 4 points

• Claimers racing in Claimers only races receive no points - up or down

• Claimers can start in any race within their own rating band if in the conditions of the said race

• Special drivers’ series races (World Drivers Championship) can be exempt for points at HRNZ Board discretion

• Any owner/trainer unhappy with the Handicapper’s points allocation following a race can appeal in writing to HRNZ’s Chief Executive who will co-ordinate a review by the Northern Handicapping Review Group (Rob Lawson, John Green, Darrin Williams)

Reassessment of the Current Horse Population:

• All non-exported horses that have raced in the North Island in the 2015/16 season will be reassessed by the end of June 2016

• To be undertaken by Andrew Morris and Kevin Smith - peer reviewed by the Northern Handicapping Review Group as per above

• Horses given a points rating from their last win or reassessment - equating C0 with 50 points, C1 with 58 points, C2 with 66 points, C3 with 74 points, C4 with 82 points and so on

• Any South Island horse looking to travel to North Island can contact HRNZ at any time to get their assessed points rating

• List of all horses’ points to be maintained on HRNZ website - pending full development (automation) within HRNZ Infohorse system

• During North Island trial, HRNZ Infohorse will effectively maintain concurrently horses’ assessments per the current Handicapping system

HRNZ System Changes

HRNZ staff are working through how it will service this from an administration perspective. Any changes to the Handicapping system require significant computer coding and testing that will take time. HRNZ will however implement the best “band aid” solutions it can cobble together in a very short timeframe to service the system changes for the trial. While these will not be perfect, the advantages and desire to trial this as soon as possible in the North Island were compelling. Non-integrated spreadsheets and other less automated processes will be utilised during this time. With the lesser pool of horses in the North Island HRNZ will be able to do this, whereas for a wider national application full integration into the Infohorse systems will be required. While the trial is being conducted, HRNZ will need to maintain details for the current system concurrently within its database.

The patience, support and help of industry participants as HRNZ goes through this process would be appreciated. It won’t be perfect however HRNZ is confident that with the best IT staff and systems in the industry, it will get there and workable solutions will be implemented. The Sub-Committee felt the merits of undertaking the trial despite these shortcomings were worthwhile and from preliminary consultation with horsemen in the region to date, they have fully supported this change.

More information will be released to the industry as the detail around this trial is developed, including further consultation with industry participants.

HRNZ

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