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Merit In Meddling? The Debate Rages

Should the handicappers be shackled?

Handicappers. Horseracing’s great unwashed. Those calculating handcuffed men in suits who are damned if they do and damned if they don’t…

A wise man once suggested that printing money isn’t solving the problem caused by printing money.

So is the National Horseracing Authority’s recent decision to implement an across the board increase of 6 merit rating points for all horses really going to prove the elixir to right the perceived imbalances of an inherently effective, yet sometimes flawed reconditioned system?

The meddling in the supposed educated and subjective science of handicapping goes back many years and often gives the layman observer a sense of panic paralysis by analysis at play  – over elaboration and an obsessive dissection of factors seemingly the key.

Robert Bloomberg

Robert Bloomberg – played a role

But things appeared to be reaching some sanity in 2010 when an NHA Sub-Committee comprising Robert Bloomberg, Tony Rivalland and Vee Moodley drafted amendments to the Handicapping Guidelines.

This had the effect of limiting the discretion of our handicappers and kept them on the straight and narrow. Some argued that it was a show of professional no confidence and a removal of any carte blanche pretensions for the much maligned men in grey suits.

At that time the ratings of horses in Gauteng , Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal were upped by 3 points in order to bring them in line with international ratings. In order to account for the ‘creep’ factor in ratings, it was further decided to decrease the ratings of horses in the Eastern Cape by 3 points and to maintain relativity to leave the ratings in Kimberley, on the Vaal Sand and Zimbabwe unchanged.

In 2013 a similar wave of the magic increased ratings wand was summararily reversed after industry resistance.

MR-change, for individual horses by age-group, for MR’s as at July of the years 2010-2013

MR-change, for individual horses by age-group, for MR’s as at July of the years 2010-2013

In simple terms, it was found that there was an over-reliance on correcting the slippage factor in merit based handicapping by simply increasing the population by 6 points.  The change of heart came about after it was felt that underlying issues may have been better solved by determining a systemic review of the Merit Rating system rather than a quick fix increase.

In April 2016, following more unhappiness and frustration with the way the handicappers were doing their jobs, further handicapping guideline amendments were introduced – so to the handcuffs were added ankle shackles, to further limit any creativity.

Read the 2016 press release here

Now in 2018, the meddling starts all over again with the NHA suggesting that over the last few racing seasons, a general decline in the Merit Ratings was observed, especially in relation to the large group of horses rated 70 and less.

They did an analysis of average ratings of the racing population from August 2010 to present and decided on the current domestic rating increase to stretch the population thereby reducing the crowding in the lower divisions. But isn’t this as a direct result of the legislative handcuffs that prevent our handicappers from dishing and withdrawing merit, where it’s rightly due?

Read the latest press release here

The NHA’s Manager of Handicapping, Roger Smith

For those concerned about the impact on our top-rated horses of this latest  increase, there will be no international embarrassment like that suffered years ago as the higher rated gallopers now have shadow international ratings.

These days an international panel of handicappers provide input when meeting in July and December of every year.

“Our bigger races are rated by a host of international handicappers – these are published on the Longines World’s Best Racehorse rankings. Every country has unique circumstances and the exchange, discussion and different viewpoints ensure there is a realistic balance maintained,’’ says NHA Handicapping Chief Roger Smith.

So while we seem unable to find a workable balance with a 75 year old system, should we bring back race figures?

Read more by clicking on the image below

Have Your Say

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35 comments on “Merit In Meddling? The Debate Rages

  1. Basil Nelson says:

    It begs the question , why the NHA wants the MR system . Is it because every other country has it and if so , does that make them correct. I was perturbed to note that “other interested parties” approved the hike of 6 points. Can these parties please be nominated. The Idea behind the MR system is that all runners will finish in a dead heat. This does not suit the punter as continuous carry overs are on record and makes a lottery out of horse racing and many broke R6 punters whom we need so badly. Do “other interested parties” benefit from this strategy??
    Owners spend fortunes on horses so that our sport can continue but yet are penalised for even running a place. If the MR system continues the penalty should be restricted to be in line with the stakes which are 62,5% of stake for winning and 20 and 10% for running 2nd and 3rd respectively.
    If the winner gets 3kg then 2nd should get 1kg and 3rd should get 1/2kg.
    Naturally as in the RF days when horses reached a certain level (B Division) , they were at the mercy of the handicapper.

    1. Brian says:

      And Basil, that handicapper did a fine job

    2. Graham Martin says:

      SPOT ON BASIL, i’ve been complaining about the huge penalties that horses receive for running a place for a long time now but I might as well be complaining to a brick wall! Last Winter’s career ended when he ran 2nd in the MET! Chances of running in the July? ZILCH! The Durban racing public would love to to see him compete in a race like the JULY HANDICAP. Not in a race overs seas.

    3. Graham Martin says:

      I could’nt agree with Basil Nelson more, change the way horses are penalized! . 3KG’S for a win, 2kg’s for 2nd and half a kg for 3rd . This will solve the problem of horses been over rated and bring about more consistency. It will also give the horse that won a chance to win again in the near future! The horse does’nt have to run unplaced again and again in order to get it’s merit rating down. It will also be easy to detect if the horse in question has lost it’s form. Throw away using the so called “LINE ” horse. In my opinion the so called “LINE” horse has contributed to the down fall of horse racing in this country!

      1. Graham Martin says:

        In other words keep the merit rating system but change the way horses are penalized!

        1. Graham Martin says:

          Bought the race card for Turffontein today for the 17th FEBRUARY (tomorrow). Opened up the race card and had a look at the field for the TOMMY HOTSPUR handicap GR3 over 1000m. I then closed the race card and filed it! The form lines of these horses is and insult to the very same horse that the race is named after. Also an insult to any intelligent human being! Compare the form lines of Tommy Hotspur to this field of horses and you will see the difference! I have those race cards with the form lines of Tommy Hotspur. The NHRA can say what they want to about the new Millenniums being attracted to the “NEW” way of horse racing in this country but they are making a mistake, nobody can be attracted to this type of horse racing, new Millenniums or old, makes no difference, the racing is unattractive in every sense of the word!

          1. karel says:

            Well, this is a Gr3 race.
            Tommy raced in Gr1 company at weight-for-age.
            How can you compare that?

          2. Graham Martin says:

            Tommy Hotspur won the Computerform Gr1 W.F.A. over 1000m for the first and only time on the 22/02/ 1997.It was his 10th win.Golden Loom was third in the same race. His form line leading up to that race reads as follows:
            1st Joseph Dorfman memorial handicap Gr3 over 1000m beating Golden Loom into 2nd by o.25lenghth. he carried 58kg.
            2nd to Golden loom over 1000m beaten half a lenghth carrying 58kg.( A division)
            2nd to Shoe Shac in the Computaform sprint Gr1 on the 16/03/ 1996 .
            1st Joseph Dorfman handicap Gr3 over 1000m beating Basic Instinct by 3.25 lengths. He carried 55.5kg.
            1st Tops over 1000m carrying 54.5kg beating Just DO iT Joey.There was a great rivalry between Tommy Hotspur and Golden Loom! This was the kind of racing that drew big crowds to the race course!

          3. Graham Martin says:

            If one kilogram is equal to one length the following should apply:

            If a horse wins a race by one length he/she should receive a one kilogram penalty
            If a horse wins a race by two lengths he/she should receive a two kilogram penalty
            If a horse wins a race by half a length he /she should receive a half kilogram penalty
            Other factors like w.f.a. allowance etc etc can be factored in.
            Placed horses don’t receive a penalty
            There should be no fixed penalties.

          4. Ashleigh says:

            It really makes me so happy to see that Tommy is still remembered so fondly, and that his exploits in the track are often referred to as a “benchmark” for sprinters.

  2. Ian Jayes says:

    The MR system was introduced because the Race-Figure system was very unfair and was not handicapping. When the MR system was introduced it was envisaged to have a weight-range of at least 10 Kgs and Long-Handicaps which would be cut at two or three places according to the range of the horses nominated.

    Horses would then move up and down the ladder in accordance with how they performed in races.

    With a weight-range of only 8 Kgs and Benchmarks that determine the make-up of races, the system has been adulterated and far too many horses are again racing under sufferance and running at a disadvantage.

    You cannot adulterate a system by introducing conditions that do not belong in handicapping and then complain that it doesn’t work.

    The sooner we all realise that ‘w-f-a’ and ‘conditions’ races measure and reward excellence and are for ‘class’ horses while handicaps equalise the chances of winning and are for lesser horses the better. By the same token, the sooner the operators program to accommodate this the better.

    To paraphrase Rudyard Kipling who wrote: East is East and West is West and never the twain shall meet. Our ‘classic’ horses and ‘handicappers’ should not meet either.

    1. Basil Nelson says:

      I totally agree that wfa horses should never meet handicappers.
      However I disagree that the MR system is fair in that if a horse runs second he/she will be penalised accordingly , possibly preventing he/she from winning next time out and moving up the ladder. This is a major cause of too many horses remaining in the lower handicaps. The old system provided Novice Plates for one time winners and maidens , which if we had more of would also move more horses up the ladder possibly because these races would be won by one time winners. Horses moving up from Maiden Plates are likely to struggle and also assist in overloading the low handicap fields. We tend today to separate colts and fillies which wasn’t done in those days. Racing programs should have more Novice Plates etc today instead of filling the card with Maiden races allowing for more races of quality , perhaps one of the reasons why race attendances are so poor today.
      By agreeing with the MR system is the equivalent of destroying the small punter and the small owner , the more of which we need in South Africa.

      1. Ian Jayes says:

        If you want conditions racing instead of handicapping then have it, but don’t expect the bulk of your horse population to be competitive and don’t bluff yourself that the horses are being handicapped.

        If every winner is going to receive the same ‘penalty’ and then meet other one-time winners at level weights then you may as well throw two out of three one-time winners away because all they will do is make up fields for the better horses.

        The operators should program Novice and Graduation Plates for the young better horses and MR handicaps for the rest and owners and trainers must be more circumspect as to the company they place their horses in.

        If owners and trainers want to think their geese are swans and put them where they don’t belong, then they must be prepared to take the consequences.

        It is all about “class” and if a horse is a class-above the field it is in, then it should carry the weight which reflects that.

        In the old days horses won major races which were then all handicaps, with 10 stone 10 lbs on their back and the bottom weight was 7 stone, a difference of 52 lbs or 24 Kgs. Today they cry and whinge about a difference of half that amount.

        Before the MR system was introduced the Chief Handicapper in Britain visited us and looked at the Race-figure system. He said it was the worst system in the world and was forcing 75% of our horses to race at a disadvantage.

        Put another way 25% of our horses were enjoying a very unfair advantage.

        1. Basil Nelson says:

          Hi Ian , it’s not that punters, owners and trainers don’t want handicapping , it’s because the current system is unfair especially to owners in the centres where the stakes are less.
          To promote owners to buy horses , the NHA has to assure them that they will get a fair deal in handicapping and that the possibility of gaining stakes to off-set purchase prices , cost of keep and vet bills is maximised. In my mind neither of these exist due to the current MR system having so many flaws.
          I therefor totally disagree with the Chief Handicapper’s opinion , maybe he needed to justify his position and/or employment (no offence meant).
          If Novices beat Novices , then so be it , that is what sport is all about or are we now purely an industry
          for the benefit of 3rd parties. I note that no one has advised who “other interested parties” are as requested in my 1st mail.
          I had a precocious filly who won 2 of her first 3 starts and was given a MR of 91 (I think the previous upswing of 3kg sway was included ) while during this time Futura (a late developer) also a 2 time winner had a MR of 75. My filly never won another race and was possibly denied black type for breeding purposes while Futura although not a classic winner went on to greater things. I am in no ways comparing my horse to Futura but merely highlighting the incompetence and unfairness of our system. In the old days horses had to win at least 3 races to enter a classic and all horses should be given this opportunity in a Graduation before facing the wrath of the handicapper.

  3. Oscar says:

    I totally agree with the comments thus far,This merit rating system is a curse from its inception, This is one of the main reason why racing is gone to the pits Most horses would never realise their true potential and the owners are getting a raw deal,We would never be able to see exciting racing like the days of Gatecrasher,Archangel , Dealers Choice, Novenna and Glory Be to name but a few Some of these horses won five ,six or like Glory Be nine races in a row and by wide margins If the merit racing was used back then we would have been robbed of watching the performance of these fascinating animals,Nowadays a horse only has to win 0ne race and he is doomed and the poor owner who paid millions for his horse is gutted ,The innocent trainer’s must run the horse out of the placing to bring the merit rating down,This can take a long time mean while the horse is so used to stay at the back of the race that he has forgetten to win,That is why You have so many one time winners that are struggling at the bottom Another reason why our racing is suffering is because the NHS have copied this disgusting system from overseas, The racing in the UK is so bad that at times they can’t even get a three horse field, most of their races consists of ,ten and twelve year old horses who have turns to beat each other day in and day out, I appeal to the authorities to please come with another system that will suit our racing and bring back the excitement and Joy’s of racing that will lure the public back to the race course and the beautiful game,

  4. Ian Jayes says:

    They sometimes have three or four horse fields in the UK because they do not cancel races if they are scratched down to that. A “walkover” was when there was only one horse left in the race and all it had to do was walk over the finish line in order to collect the stake.

    Far from UK racing being “so bad” it still attracts big crowds and also unlike us it has retained its classiness. Before becoming too critical of British racing, remember they have, excluding Ireland, four times as many racecourses for racing on the flat than we do. We have also had many races scrapped because there were 6 or less acceptances.

    Like us they have “class” horses and “handicappers” but unlike us, they recognise the difference and program accordingly.

    1. Louis Goosen says:

      Ian

      My main problem with MR is that consistency is punished and that the more you give your very best efforts ( both horse and Trainer), your horse’s rating is increased. You now HAVE TO run a few “poor” races in order to get relief. And this is what is causing Punters and Owners to leave.

      Ultimately, Punters want horses to follow much more than they want a roughie to arrive where they have the field in their exotic. The horse worth following, the olden days type which is going through the divisions, is the horse that brings Punters to the course/ to have a bet/ to “anchor” their days betting around. Nowadays, horses can go through divisions without winning, by accumulating penalties for running second, etc. Punters want to follow WINNERS, they want to find winners. This is very difficult as the Handicappers do not seek to create a winner in each race. Their job is to try and get the field to cross the finish as one, in a line….which is then a type of Lotto ticket for Punters. There is no value for Punters when they have to take 6 fields in order to catch tbe Pick 6….

      Likewise, it means very little to an Owner , the fact that his horse retired as a 1 time winner but was “rated 105.” What is more important to the Owner are the other winning photos on his/her wall or the videos of the other wins which he/she would have if the horse was not punished for consistency or for winning too soon in its career….and of course, the stakes cheques. MR too often stops those horses….until you run a few bad races in a row, over a few months…

      No, we cannot go back to the Race Figure system. But we can revise the current MR system, by creating our own local variant….but this will backfire if it is undertaken only by a select few who Train or Own horses…. as has been the case up to now.

      1. Ian Jayes says:

        Unfortunately they have tried to create “our own local variant” and all they have achieved is an adulteration of a perfectly good system.

        By not using long handicaps and making benchmarks determine the type of race and trying to put conditions and fixed penalties into handicapping is what has caused the problem.

        The handicappers were placed in the employ of the NHA to avoid this type of thing, but the NHA has allowed vested interests mess things up.

        When Phumelela closed Gosforth Park, Newmarket and Bloemfontein they further aggravated the problem by destroying 60% of the opportunities open to Gauteng horses. Port Elizabeth has lost a racecourse as has Cape Town and Durban. Horseracing has being brought down to the size of those running it and we should not look for scapegoats like the MR system, but face the problem full on.

  5. Michael Jacobs says:

    I agree with the majority of the above (not Ian Jayes though), MR is ruining the game, and driving away punters, owners (and good horses). After their maiden win all horses should progress through the ranks as they used to in the Race figure system. Once a horse has won a Novice or Graduation it has to move on, one can only win this class once! So others will get chances to win too. Watching good horses progress through the ranks was what brought people to the racecourse. To watch 9 mediocre maidens and handicaps every day is the cause of horse racing s demise. A and B division handicaps used to be the feature races of the day, but there was a good class of horse at that level, 4 and 5 time winners! The skill for punters was also to spot the “anomalies” in the Race figure weights, and there were many, those were the betting opportunities. One could do your own “handicapping”, but that was fine, that’s what form studying is all about.

    MR handicapping is killing the game, and if the powers-that-be cannot see that, then it’s understandable why racing is going backwards!

    1. Ian Jayes says:

      You may not agree with me, but I would love to know how a moderate one-time winner is going to “progress through the ranks” when it keeps meeting good one-time winners at level weights.

      1. Basil says:

        Some of the major factors of Economics are:
        (1) Buy at the right price
        (2)Employ the most able labour at the best price
        (3)Proximity to the best market
        A wise buyer should rather purchase a yearling (with 1600 abilities) by a lesser stallion at 30000 than buying say a better stallion at 300000
        Place your horse with an experienced small trainer who makes limited but necessary use of Vets.
        Racing centres are close on hand.
        Even if u bought the 30000 yearling , add a further 100000 of costs before he/she wins a race , which hopefully happens when your purchase is 2 1/2 yrs old over 1400 or 1600m so its MR is not too high.
        If the horse is moderate it now could run a few places in a Novice Plate to regain some of its costs as apposed to struggling in the MR races as most of the handicaps may be unjustified especially if your horse is mal treated. A moderate horse is unlikely to win beyond it’s 1st win in either version of handicap ratings.

        1. karel says:

          It seems to me that being able to win races depends on how may races (= opportunities) there are, for how many horses, in a given time period.
          And then also what kind of races are available, conditions races or handicaps.

      2. Basil says:

        Furthermore Ian , apprentice jockeys see no attraction in coming to Cape Town for financial reasons.
        Should your moderate novice go down to a MR of 60 you have more chance of obtaining an apprentice (with an allowance) in Jhb than in Cape Town , thanks to the operators approach in the allocation of stakes depending upon the amounts wagered in different regions, Unfortunately , disposable income is much lower in the W Cape and we pay the price accordingly.

  6. Basil Nelson says:

    I have always opposed the current MR system as like many others who contribute to this forum. However the NHA and other interested parties elect to ignore the comments of MR sceptics and uni- and/or bi-laterally continue with their own decision making. If this is democratic they have to be voted out.
    Our sport and breeding industry is now in a nervous situation where sales prices have decreased while international prices have shown considerable increases. We now have to synthesize our polarised views and avert “crisis management” in the interest of all concerned.
    Firstly , horses are not robots which will run every race in the same fashion . Classy horses may be able to do so and defy handicaps but yet we condemn the lower horses with unfair handicaps.The SunMet was an exception in that Legal Eagle and Marinaresco should have finished 1st and 2nd in the amended WFA terms of the race.
    I refer all readers to page 186 of the 2017 Breeders’ Handbook published by Sporting Post. From this information I have analysed the average MR of the progeny of certain stallions while dividing them into 2 categories viz. Sprinter/Milers and Miler/Plus. In the 1st category I utilised Captain Al ,Jet Master , National Assenbly , Querari , Trippi , Var and Western Winter. The 2nd category included Dynasty , Fort Wood ,Silvano , Elliodor and Ideal World. While the average for all stallions is 75,5 , it was noted that all stallions in the 1st part had MR’s above 80 save for Trippi who had 79,9.The 2nd group all had MR’s of below 80 save for Dynasty who is 80,6. My opinions are not conclusive but need to be considered. I believe that sprinter types attract higher MR’s because of their precocity and that handicappers are more conservative when penalising horses of staying ability. the valuable info in this page will be distorted should the 6kg rise be effected.
    I also analysed Equus champion Silvano’s progeny born from 2011 to 2013 wherein he had 282 foals (180 sold) from which he has 169 winners from 250 runners. As a producer of top horses (first 3 in July) his highest was Vercingetorix with a MR of 124 As his progeny averaged 78,7 it means (my opinion) that most of his winners averaged 1 or 2 wins. Stallion championships are based on stakes and he duly won because of the top horses that he produces, As stated above classy horses can defy handicaps but yet we condemn lower horses to unfair handicapping , even those sired by Silvano and other champions.

    1. karel says:

      The Racing Record ratings you refer to are AR (Ability Ratings, those of Sporting Post) and not MR (official Merit Ratings), although in essence they are derived in the same way.
      The 6 points MR increase is therefore of no consequence to the Racing Record summary.

      Having said this, the continuous protests against the ‘unfairness’ of handicapping in the true sense of the word is getting tiring.
      I refer readers once again to https://www.sportingpost.co.za/racings-secrets-revealed/
      and specifically to https://www.sportingpost.co.za/insight/mr-handicapping-works-no-bull/
      This deals with factual evidence and not anecdotal chit-chat.

      1. Basil says:

        Hi Karel
        The analyses concerned clearly states that MR and not AR is the criteria.
        My attempts to unite all current MR sceptics are done in good faith in an attempt to improve our sport.
        If you are tiring with this strategy , I pledge that I shall not trouble you and your forum again and hope that this mail shall be sent to other sceptics as well.

        1. karel says:

          Pity you feel that way Basil.
          Thought debating the issue would be a way forward.
          In my view criticism without fact should be challenged, and in turn give an opportunity to present fact.
          So far all I’ve seen from MR critics is anecdotal or one-off evidence.

        2. karel says:

          Basil,
          Apologies. I referred to the wrong page in the stallion book – your example does indeed deal with official MR and not AR (I mixed it up with page 167, The Power of Ratings).
          The arbitrary 6-point increase would certainly affect the historical information in the table.
          The logical option is to re-create it using AR and not MR, which I will attempt to do for the 2018 stallion book issue.

  7. Michael Jacobs says:

    While the “purists” and “handicapping experts” and know-it-alls may patronisingly brush off the “chitchat and “anecdotal” comments” about MR handicapping the bottom line is that punters and owners are being driven away and the racing game is floundering and on its last legs. Punters, owners and trainers don’t like MR handicapping and they are the only stakeholders who count. As much as the “establishment” wants to force MR handicapping down our throats, punters and owners are voting with their feet and deserting the sport. There used to be feature races on most race programmes in the past, not anymore, I remember when even a Wednesday meeting in Cape Town would have a feature race, now the best that can be dished up is a 90+ Merit handicap.

    What I think will happen is racing will collapse completely and then the powers-that-be will wake up and throw out MR handicapping.

    1. Ian Jayes says:

      Michael Jacobs is right for the wrong reasons. In the past we did have a feature race on just about every racecard, but we must not forget that 7 racecorses have been disposed of which each raced approximately 32 times a year and had an average of 9 races per racemeeting.

      In the process we lost 288 races and about 4320 runs of all sorts from maidens to feature races and we blame MR handicapping?

      Opportunities and programming is the problem, not handicapping.

      The Chief Handicapper in the UK put it into perspective and common sense must surely tell you if a moderate sort is battling under handicap conditions, it is going to battle a helluva lot harder at level weights.

    2. karel says:

      Anecdotal waffle.
      Where’s your proof?

    3. Graham Martin says:

      And throw out the so called “LINE HORSE”. The so called “LINE HORSE” That the NHRA uses to judge a horse’s merit rating is an absolute load of rubbish!

  8. Michael Jacobs says:

    If a horse wins a maiden, that does not make it a superstar, merely a maiden winner. It should get a minimum weight at its next run in a higher class (maiden being the weakest class). The next time it’s weight should be adjusted should be if and when it wins again. What is so difficult about that? I know it is simplistic, but what makes a 3yr old maiden winner (for example), topweight in its next handicap run? It beat maidens for goodness sake! Hence the race figure system being fairer as it had standard weights and the handicapper was not tasked with sucking a rating out of his thumb. We are not interested in the “skill” of the handicapper, we want to win money! One can win money when punting is about form and class and not mediocrity and lotteries. Good horses must not be penalised until they get to higher class when they run against their equals. A recent maiden winner (particularly a young, lightly raced horse) with a high weight in a handicap is not racing against its equals. Let good young horses progress through the racefigure system until it gets to the higher levels (by which time it would have won 3 or 4 races), by limiting handicaps and having more novice, graduation and progress class races.

    There should be a maximum of 2 handicaps on a card for the rats and mice. Then we will see a better class of racing in SA.

  9. Porven moholo says:

    I think the way of allocating penalty should not be tempered with:this is used to mearsure the ability of horses and thereby arrive at the correct merit rating of a horse,allocating the same points woul mean horses are equal in ability which is false.one horse beats others by ten lengths where as the other would beat the same field with half a length ,you surely cannot mearsure their ability as equal.

  10. Graham Hurlstone-Jones says:

    Us versus them…..Why cant the movement of any MR be negotiated ? There is a set parameter which exists right now but it seems to me that if a trainer / owner can approach a MR tribunal and recommend a MR that is beneficial to the horse and its career and the tribunal can make an informed decision with mitigating circumstances. I am not talking full court cases but a written submission after each race highlighting the positives or negatives that may be missed by the tribunal or handicapper….whatever. There will be mostly slam dunk MR’s but this approach would make it a bit more inclusive for all and may get rid of the us v them. A card from the handicapper with set questions concerning the “outcome ” of your horses race which is quick to fill and a comment at the bottom. It will have to be signed by the tribunal/handicapper/trainer/owner/jockey as read and understood and then the decision can be made with mitigating arguments. At least you know you had a say. You can fill the card in before the race if you want……but the handicappers will have pause for thought any way ( which I am sure they do already ). The review system at cricket is used before a batsman is given out, they look at the bowlers foot ( did your horse start ok ? ) then they go to hot spot / snicker ( how was the run ? did the draw/weather affect and in what way ? ) then ball tracking ( how do you see your horse performing after this performance). Then a decision can be made on the MR ( the questions just popped up, they could be worded many way’s for simplicity) seems holistic. My take on line horses is they are a waste of time unless you are in the classics. All races are subjective so is form so to base form on an objective stance which is what a line horse is meant to give you simply does not hold up, Its always moving. “Going through the ranks” is a line horse….Catch me if you can. ( Does the trainer fill in anything after a race ? a report like a stipes type thing. I would think this would be a good business practise, all jobs that do I fill out a report as most should, it would tie in with the MR card system !! simple stuff ).

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