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MR Appeals Panel – New Appointments

Plenty of experience

The National Horseracing Authority National Board have annnounced that they have appointed the Sporting Post’s Karel Miedema and former NHA Handicapper Ken Nicol as members of their Merit Ratings Appeal panel with effect from 8 February 2019.

National Horseracing AuthorityThis was announced in Friday’s NHA calendar, Volume 118 Issue 28.

Both men bring plenty of experience to the table.

Ken Nicol joined the Sporting Post as a handicapper in 2005. In 2010 he was offered a handicapping post at the NHA, a position he held until March 2017.

Editor of South Africa’s premier racing and breeding publication Sporting Post for the past 25 years, Karel Miedema is a widely respected handicapping and pedigree expert.

Read the latest calendar here

On a different note, we have noted that there is a new tendency by the NHA to issue warnings for certain offences.

We enquired about this fact with NHA Racing Control Executive Arnold Hyde after last week’s calendar was published.

“After a meeting with stakeholders it was agreed to institute a revised guidelines to penalties from November 2018 subject to Board approval. The penalties are a reflection of that,” said Hyde in response to our query.

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21 comments on “MR Appeals Panel – New Appointments

  1. Ian Jayes says:

    Good news on the MR Appeals Panel. Not good news on penalties. What’s the next step after warnings: being patted with Johnson’s baby powder?


    Congrats to Karel Miedema and former Sporting Post handicapper Ken Nicol.

  3. Rod Mattheyse says:

    I think I saw this under strategic goal number 4, “make the press sweet” – I am assuming appointed means the editor has accepted. This acceptance has shocked
    me than Teal winning the July.

    Does the editor not feel conflicted. How will the editor express an opinion on a rating when it goes against his views that restrictions are in place. How will the rest of
    the panel feel when the editor says the objection should not only be upheld but reduced by 5 more points to fit
    Into my timeform like ratings.


    Karel, I have a question and/or observation I’d like to run by You.

    The historical & ongoing differences in SP’s Ability Ratings compared to NHA official Merit Ratings.

    In particular, isn’t the pattern of the NHA MR ratings constantly been around 7 pounds more than Your (Sporting Post’s) AR, of grave concern ?

    Now don’t get me wrong, the bigger the differences of the ratings of the NHA, the bigger the opportunity for a lucrative betting opportunity.

    For example, when comparing SP’s AR to that of NHA MR for Races 1,2,3,4 & 7(The July) on July Day 2018, I observed the following :

    78 carded runners

    67 horses rated higher by NHA as compared to that of SP’s rating

    8 horses rated higher by Sporting Post as compared to the ratings of NHA

    3 horses rating equally

    48 horses rated 6 points or more by NHA as compared to the Sporting Post’s AR

    29 horses rated 9 points or more by NHA as compared to the Sporting Post’s AR

    On South Africa’s most popular raceday, why would there be such vast differences ?

    Mr. Nicol has had both exposure/experience with both NHA and Sporting Post. Mr. Matthew Lips and yourself, going back historically, sing from the same hymnbook…more or less, right ?

    Taking this into account, in addition to recognizing that opinion is still opinion, surely these 9 to 12 point differences are worrying ?

    In conclusion, I noted that the average points difference amounted to 10.2 for just the 20 July runners.

    Is this not adequate grounds for appeal ?

  5. Steve Reid says:

    “This appointment has shocked me more than Teal winning the July” – chirp of the month.

    I too must admit to have being surprised by Karels appointment. This mainly due to his very public criticism of the restrictions put on the handicappers. I am being presumptuous here in thinking that some promises have been made to review the restrictions, otherwise it makes no sense. Imagine for a moment that Karel is sitting on an appeal and an owner or trainer objects to his presence due to the question of impartiality and possible conflicted status. Karels public criticism and views on the workings of the MR system should preclude him from sitting on any appeal board as it could be seen as being unable to act fairly taking his public views into consideration.

    These are my views and not an attack on the man.

  6. Jay August says:

    William, I’m not sure why we would want to compare MRs to SPs ARs. The MRs are half-kilos and the ARs pounds, or do I have this wrong? Assuming both have a median rating of around 66-69 then the further you stretch out from the median the greater the difference. as 1 kilo is not 2 pounds.

    If anything the AR should be greater not smaller, which they generally appear not to be. Then again what WFA scale is used for ARs versus MRs and also half-kilos(pounds) per lengths of distance covered? All these issues influence the comparability and unless the differences are known how can they be compared.

    In the UK Timeform, the BHA and Racing Post use slightly different methods to arrive at their ratings hence the difference of sometimes 7lbs in rating a horse like Frankel (147lbs TF, 140lbs BHA, 143lbs RP). Look also at Variety Club – 131lbs by TF and 124lbs by RP. Even if you iron out the apparent differences in calculation there is still subjective judgement from one handicapper to another.


    Hello Jay,

    It’s one and the same thing. Exactly the same. Sporting Post call it Ability Rating. NHA call it Merit Rating


    Jay, that’s exactly why the Sporting Post publish/show it in their race summary along side each other.

    It’s like in annual financials …. comparatives, years shown next to each other


    I have no issues with Karel’s and Mr.Nicol’s appointment. I think Karel was previously part of a panel, weren’t you Sir ?

    If Karel Miedema was single, and he wanted to marry my sister, I’d Give Him the Green Light.

    Hugs & Kisses to Kiki


    And just something else that Sporting Post fans and Sporting Post naysayers would do well to remember :- Karel introduced the concept of ability ratings way before the ‘Establishment’ considered an alternative to C, B and A Division class indicators.

    Lastly, Karel did win an award for best contribution to SA Racing in the 80’s, didn’t he ?

  11. Jay August says:

    William I hope you are not counting me amongst the naysayers! I think Karel has done an amazing job over many years against some odds in SA. The market for ratings is so small that to keep it going for so long shows some resilience and passion. As I write this I am looking on my book shelf at the Racing Record Annuals from 1987-1992.


    No Jay, not at all.

    I couldn’t agree more with your observation about the passion and resilience of Karel with regards his Winners Circle, Racing Record and Sporting Post publications.

    Happy handicapping Sir

  13. Roderick Mattheyse says:

    not an attack on Karel at all, i just don’t think with the current applications in place that he should subject himself to this panel. the panel does not convene much, so it cant be a lucrative enterprise, so i am baffled at the appointment and acceptance of appointment

  14. Steve Reid says:

    William please don’t fall into the Phumelela doctrine that if you not with us you must be against us. Karel knows his stuff his pedigree is there for all to see. Will he be allowed to implement changes is my question. There have been some astute changes from the new broom, as I have said before let’s give him his 100 days and see just how big the appetite to change is.


    Steve, you are presuming and are way out. I don’t guess about You.

    I despise Phumelela.

    Karel is beyond reproach.

    Sporting Post/Karel have never compromised himself for favour with the public and/or establishment for the sake of increased newspaper sales.

    I do not socialize with Karel Miedema nor am I in his pocket.

    The naysayers are often people who know bits & pieces about handicapping, that apart from the racing fraternities ridiculous historical tardiness with regards handicapping.

    The Late Hymie Maisel did attest to that.

    Roderick – as usual you have the wrong end of the stick – there’s no commercial drive/target for the Appeal Ratings Panel – were on earth did you concoct that fallacy ?

    Steve, kindly take the time to read a persons blog carefully, without making your mind up before their sentence has finished.

    Happy days Mr. Reid

  16. Steve Reid says:

    William this isn’t a biggie but perhaps consider two very independent people who do not communicate with each other, came to a similar understanding of what your message is. So perhaps your blog was not 100% clear.

    All good – nothing personal.



    You mentioned Phumelela, not me ? This article has nothing to do with Phumelela

    The news was about a MR Appeal Panel. Karel can’t change NHA policy.

    He and others listen/consider the owners and trainers individual cases, reject or uphold the appeal, and adjust an individual horses MR, if needed.

    That’s it.

    The owners and trainers will be well served by Karel’s knowledge, whether he owns 1 or a 1000 racehorses.

    He did complete his Masters in Business Administration for handicapping.

    He is one of the panel members, only.

  18. Roderick Mattheyse says:

    William, Karel is still married, so you can’t try and marry him off legally, to your sister, just yet. Don’t be blinded by your love affair with karel’s skill as a handicapper, take a step back and read, i would draw pictures but i’m technically challenged and can’t do that on this forum. Let’s see if we can co-ordinate our diaries’, i will bring the stick and throw it, you can fetch it and show me the right end.

    Maybe Karel, whom everyone seems to respect – including me, can tell us why he thinks it’s a good idea to be on this panel, as it is common knowledge that he disagrees with the restrictions placed on handicappers per the rules as it stands today.

    1. karel says:

      Interpreting common handicapping policies is a matter of experience.
      Being critical of strangely formulated handicapping guidelines doesn’t change the ability to interpret apparently factual evidence.
      Those strange guidelines may in some cases influence the official handicapper’s actions, but then that will be explained as part of the appeal, where applicable.

      An MR appeal gives the official handicapper the opportunity to explain a line of thought.
      The appeal panel provides alternative handicapping experience, and may either support the thinking or rule against it.
      In the end it’s no more than a matter of applying common sense after all known angles have been explored.
      Handicapping remains an art, not exact science. I’ve been playing with those numbers for some 50 years now. Still can get excited about this game.

      That said, I had no idea William had a sister. He clearly fudged me all those years.
      Then again, life is full of handicaps.

  19. Hogan Govindsamy says:

    Very robust debate guys – just strange no response from Karel on William’s question or was it rhetorical.Just asking as William seems to come out very strong in batting for you.


    Indeed Karel, and another very important issue with this handicapping business is that my sister and I are of Belgian descent and you of Dutch bloodlines.

    Objection hooter !

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