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Vardy Raised To 118

How the handicappers rated the weekend action

Another busy weekend of racing is behind us with the action at Scottsville and Kenilworth providing plenty of entertainment. The NHA Handicappers have provided an analysis of how they rated the various features.

National Horseracing AuthorityPlease note that the two-year-old Features from Scottsville on Saturday (the Gr1 Allan Robertson Championship and the Gr1 Tsogo Sun Gold Medallion) have been assessed by the Handicappers.

However, two-year-old ratings are generally not disclosed as they are essentially provisional and are regularly subject to retrospective handicapping (a practice which is not permitted with older horses) until the crop turns three years of age.

  • Tsogo Sun Sprint (Grade 1)

CHIMICHURI RUN has had his rating upped from 112 to 115 after he led home a “trifecta” of Sean Tarry trained horses to win South Africa’s only Grade 1 Handicap Sprint, the Tsogo Sun Sprint over 1200m at Scottsville on Saturday.  This returns him to a rating of within one pound of the 116 he was awarded after he won a Gr 3 event over 1200m at Turffontein last September and seems to underline to fact that 1200m is probably the three-year-old’s optimum distance.  His win here also underscores again that the current crop of three-year-olds is a strong one.

In assessing the race, the Handicappers agreed that runner-up TRIP TO HEAVEN, third placed AFRICA RISING and fourth placed UNDERCOVER AGENT all make for more than satisfactory line horses after finishing within 0.30 lengths of one another and as such the ratings of all of this trio remain unchanged.

In other changes, last year’s Tsogo Sun Sprint winner BOLD RESPECT was dropped from 113 to 112, PALACE CHAPEL was trimmed from 108 to 107, SEARCH PARTY drops from 110 to 108, ATTENBOROUGH goes from 106 to 104, DUTCH PHILIP drops from 104 to 102, and SNIPER SHOT was cut from 106 to 104.

  • South African Fillies Sprint (Grade 1)

CELTIC SEA’s rating was upped from 103 to 114 after she quickened up well and comfortably won the South African Fillies Sprint over 1200m at Scottsville.  In the process, she struck another blow for the current three-year-old crop.  In assessing the race, the Handicappers agreed to use runner-up SNOWDANCE to her current season’s best achieved rating of 110 and have accordingly dropped her from 112 to 110.  Although SNOWDANCE had not raced over a distance shorter than 1400m since she won on debut over 1100m in February 2017, she showed plenty of pace throughout and finished 2.10 lengths clear of the third horse, so there is absolutely no reason to believe that she is less effective in sprints than she is over 1400/1600m.

National Horseracing AuthorityThird placed VISION TO KILL was raised from 95 to 105, but fourth placed NEPTUNE’S RAIN was dropped from 105 to 102.  In contrast, fifth placed JUNIPER SPRING goes up from 91 to 98.  GREEN PLAINS was dropped from 105 to 103, ROSE IN BLOOM was dropped from 107 to 105, MIGHTY HIGH gets the same drop from 107 to 105, NAFAAYES goes from 104 to 103, EXQUISITE TOUCH was cut from 96 to 94, ANIME drops from 98 to 96, and ELUSIVE HEART drops from 102 to 100.

  • Winter Classic (Grade 3)

VARDY has seen his rating upped from 109 to 118 after he put up a career-best performance to beat a small but classy field in the Grade 3 Winter Classic over 1800m at Kenilworth on Saturday, 25 May.   The gelding has shown continuous improvement since making his debut last November and his performance here fully earns him a place amongst the leading members of the three-year-old crop.

In assessing the race, the Handicappers had no hesitation in using runner-up ONE WORLD as the line horse.  Any notion that ONE WORLD didn’t stay the distance of 1800m was considered to be groundless given that he finished more than six lengths in front of the third placed runner MAJESTIC MOZART – a considerable increase on the 2.85 lengths by which ONE WORLD beat him in the Grade 3 Winter Guineas on 27 April.

Other than VARDY, no changes were made to any of the remaining four runners after MAJESTIC MOZART, HERODOTUS and CLOUDED HILL finished 3rd, 4th, and 5th respectively – exactly as they had also done in the Winter Guineas.

  •  Olympic Duel Stakes (Listed)

Unbeaten three-year-old RUN FOX RUN has had her rating increased from 91 to 104 after she soundly beat her rivals in the Olympic Duel Stakes, a Listed handicap for fillies and mares over 1200m at Kenilworth on Saturday.  The Handicappers have little doubt that she is well worthy of her new rating after four impressive wins from as many starts.

Runner-up RUSH HOUR GIRL has been a model of consistency recently and was used as the line horse, so accordingly her rating remains unchanged.  Third placed PLATINUM CLASS remains unchanged after the veterinary surgeon reported that she suffered from post race distress, while fourth placed DYNAMIC DIANA was also left unchanged.

The only drops were to LESEDI LA RONA, who goes from 92 to 86, and to MISS KATALIN, who drops from 98 to 94.

  •  Stormsvlei Mile (Listed)

HELEN’S IDEAL was left unchanged on 99 after her narrow success in the Listed Stormsvlei Mile for three-year-old fillies over 1600m at Kenilworth on Saturday.  The Handicappers felt it was unlikely that HELEN’S IDEAL would have run worse than the 96 she achieved when she beat many of the same rivals in a similar Listed race over 1400m four weeks earlier and used that level to rate the Stormsvlei, but given that she has won two Listed events in less than a month it was decided not to drop her rating from her current mark of 99.

Runner-up STAR FIGHTER was raised from 92 to 95, while third placed DUCHESS OF BOURBON was raised from 84 to 91 and is now rated equal to fourth placed SHAMROCK WIND, who was dropped to 91 from 94.  The only other change was to CORAL BAY, who drops from 90 to 86.

  • Press release published by the NHA on Tuesday 28 May 2019

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22 comments on “Vardy Raised To 118

  1. Keagan says:

    Handicapping system in South Africa is ridiculous, horse’s jumping from a 109 to 118 for a Grade 3 race? 118 and its only won one grade 3 race? Just seems a little excessive. There’s a horse in Australia called Redzel, who is a 14 time winner, has won the richest sprint race in the world Twice, albeit not a group race, 2 group 1s and multiple group 2s and 3s and has never been rated higher than 120.

  2. Head Scratcher says:

    What should Vardy’s rating be Kegan, and can you show us your method for arriving at the answer?

  3. Deezo says:

    One World was the line horse , who was comfortable beaten by Vardy . One World proved that he does not stay 1800m so in my opinion , Vardy’ s rating should not have exceeded MR of 112. Majestic Mozart who stays the distance, was beaten by almost 8 lengths, remains MR of 102 . Herodotus , who is MR 102 and was nominated for the July and will most certainly not get in the July, ran a dismal 4th. In essence , the handicapper is stating that Vardy is just 3 points inferior to the best rated Hawaam and 2 points less the multi graded 1 winners , Do It Again and Rainbow Bridge. One can only ponder if Vardy would have came close to running in the top 4 of the July with a MR of 118.

  4. Keagan Latham says:

    Head Scratcher, in my opinion when it comes to international ratings, horses in south africa are atleast 10 points too high.

  5. Head Scratcher says:

    So where does that belief come from Keagan? Just a hunch or based on solid evidence?

  6. Deezo says:

    Head Scratcher . I think you need to scratch less and look at the current MR in SA which does not level with the rest of world of horseracing. You will understand why our local trainers are up in arms with our MR. They themselves , seem to be head scratchers.

  7. Keagan Latham says:

    Head Scratcher, variety club achieved a massive amount of success in this country and abroad, and was champion horse of SA twice, he left the country a 120, so vardy would be 2 pounds less on grade 3 win? Horse’s in SA, have their handicap put up in one run, its excessive, to me they need to prove over more runs why they have a rating that high. Other countries have a limit of putting a horse’s handcap up in one run, EG: Celtic sea got an 11 pound climb for beating a horse who is not a sprinter?

  8. Head Scratcher says:

    Gentleman, so what should happen next? Abolish the MR system? Go back to a figure system? Let the trainers decide what their horses are worth and turn the whole program into a claiming handicap? Appoint a handicapper from overseas who should “level” things? Keep moaning in the hope someone listens?

    Keagan, a horse like Telecaster went from no rating to 115 off a Group 2 win recently. Surfman who ran in the same race got an immediate mark of 101 after romping a Novice race previously. Rawdaa who ran second to La Ti Dar recently got a 12 pound hike after that effort. Last year Laarib off a second in a Group 3 got a hike from 102 to 113. And there are many such examples in the UK and Ireland. Are you sure there are these restrictions you refer to?

  9. Graham Martin says:

    Vardy was receiving 2kg from One world and beat him by 2,25 length’s, he beat a horse who clearly does’nt go 1800m! What a farce this merit rating system is! Vardy is a 4 time winner and has won one Gr3 race. He is rated only 3 points below Soqrat, a 5 time winner and 3 Gr1 races at that! He is rated one point higher than Twist Of Fate, a 6 time winner including the Gr2 Natal Guineas. A merit rating of 118? absolute RUBBISH! Fire the handicappers, the whole lot of them!

  10. Graham Martin says:

    This is horse racing in South Africa not the U.K. You cannot compare Northern Hemisphere racing to Southern hemisphere racing so please don’t. Variety Club already had many wins which were proportionate to his Merit Rating when he left these shores..Vardy is a 4 time winner with a merit rating of 118? Something wrong here!

  11. Head Scratcher says:

    You fellas really keep me amused with all the contradictory statements. We are not level with the rest of the world. Then other countries don’t raise their ratings like we do. Then you cannot compare NH to SH ratings/horses. The worse indictment is that you confuse number of wins with rating. That is like saying that the girl who IQ tested once and got a 140 is completely overrated compared to the boy who got a 130 highest score after being IQ tested 12 times. Racing ability or merit and number of wins are sometimes correlated but often not.

  12. Harold says:

    I agree with Keagan that Vardy is rated too high at this stage of his career. The handicappers have used many a line horse which has proven to be a folly. Time will tell that One World does not stay. Beating the 3rd horse by 6 lengths aside, this is a Grade 3 field. What would Vardy be after he wins a grade 2 or grade 1 race?

  13. Johnny G says:

    All I can say is that if Vardy goes to compete in Dubai with a rating of 118 he will be lucky to run in the first 10 . All you need to see the last couple of years when Godolphin has brought there group 3 and 2 horses over . Unfortunately our handicappers are to worriew about overseas instead of helping our own horse racing population. At this present moment besides a couple of horses the rest are not even close to international level.

  14. Head Scratcher says:

    Johnny can you name the handicap races in Dubai where a rating for any horse is likely to be of importance? Which handicap race in Dubai is the target for SA horses, where they benefit from a low rating? Better still highlight for me the the Group races in Dubai where our horses have been at a disadvantage because of their ratings. If I look at Marinaresco who was also rated 118 I see that he competed in only fixed weight races. So how was he effected by his rating?

  15. Johnny G says:

    Head Scratcher you missing my point . The point I’m trying making is that our handicappers are rating our horses way to high . Feel free to go and look at any top horse in the UK and see there ratings . EG. Thunder Snow 2 time winner of the Dubai world cup group winner on turf and sand . Official rating 122 . Now if you tell me that Vardy is only 2 kg 4 points behind him then I know nothing about racing .

    Career earnings


    Official rating


    That’s right off Godolphin website. I rest my case

  16. Head Scratcher says:

    Johnny you clearly don’t understand any of my points either. But as you continually equate number of wins and earnings with rating or ability I can only guess you don’t actually understand the concept of handicapping other than superficially. Whether Vardy is 4 points below Thunder Snow is of no relevance to this debate. The only time it will be relevant is if the two horses face each other in a handicap race. How Vardy is rated relative to his peers in SA is the only issue that should concern you. His rating of 118 in SA tells me what the handicapper thinks he is relative to his peers in this country, not what they think he is to his foreign peers.

    There is no case to rest on such flimsy evidence as earnings and number of wins especially where the horses being compared are 2 years apart in age. If you really wanted to make a somewhat valid comparison then you would have pointed out that Thunder Snow at the same age as Vardy was rated 118 had 5 wins including a Group 1. That is a valid caparison, not that subsequently he has risen 4 pounds and won two Dubai World Cups, which constitute the bulk of his earning to date.

  17. Joao says:

    What I love about SA racing is the amnesia. Not 1 person has mentioned that 2 (yes 2 ) 10 point “hikes” over the last 5 years in SA. Also there is another 10 point hike on its way. You could NOT make this farce up. These are the reasons our horses FAIL when they compete abroad. Vardy has talent and so does Hawaam and Do it Again BUT they are ALL in the same system that UPPED all the horses. So the issue is the foundation is 20 pints OVER.

    You guys really want to know how good SA horses are , don’t worry about the Vardy’s and Hawaam’s of the world.

    Export a 64 rated horse to the UK and see how well it does before its dropped down to 44…… Our system in theory is perfect and certainly better than the RF system BUT the reality is that the enforcing of the system is flawed and the constant tinkering with the ratings even worse.


    Joao, I’m so glad you posted your thoughts.

    I’ve been considering a response to Mr Moodleys’ announcement at the first Kenilworth handicapping brief.

    Believe me, I haven’t forgotten.

    I’ll my thoughts and facts later.

    Thanks again for your statement


    I have no hesitation in agreeing with Keagan, Harold & Johnny G’s comments.

    I argued at the meeting, with Mr. Cort that this proposed 10 point raise, across the board, isn’t the solution to wiping away or relieving the congestion of MR’s at the ‘bottom of the log’.

    Mr. Moodley reminded us that ‘They’ had to consider the commercial viability of racing and had to get the 40 to 55 or 60 MR horses a chance to run more often (make the final field) and increase the sizes of lowly MR races.

    It’s all well and good to get the low rated horses to run more often … fantastic, but a handicapping organization should never consider commercial viability. Handicapping systems are quite unrelated to commerce.

    Mr. Cort suggested that the NHA should rather lower the bands or ranges of MR races.

    Eg 55-64 MR can be lowered to 45 to 54 MR range, 75 to 84 MR races programmed to be reduced to 66 to 75 MR , etc etc.

    Mr. Moodley said to me, this proposed resistance to the 10 point increase is just a mind-set that we should just adapt too, because there is an International Rating for SA horses and this would remain separate from the Local rating for SA horses.

    Mr. Moodley but what you failed to realize, is that, for example, a 98 MR performance attained over a 1600m isn’t up for change… anywhere. What about your line horse selected ? … you know he would not have been able to run up to his exaggerated new MR.

    Your handicapping team, now expect a previously rated 84 MR horse who will be ARTIFICIALLY adjusted up 10 MR points on 1 August to 94, to put in a 94 performance. Again, this proposal will simply result in a more accelerated shrinkage, in time to come.

    It was stated 3 years ago that there should be no issue with the 6 or 8 point rise, as relative to each other, all horses are “in the same boat”. That only works if you generally downgrade or expect less of a 98 MR performance, for example.

    A hard knocking handicapper, say a 4 or 5 year old has shown what his got (exposed ability). It’s most unlikely that the bottom band of MR horses in SA will improve by 10 or even 6 MR points.

  20. Rian says:

    VARDY is going to be one of best in SA IF HE STAYS HERE….
    To say that that V/TSnow rating is irrelevant to this argument is absurd. Thanks J G for your input.
    What about the poor 1 time winner who ran third to Hawaam, he is due for a massive increase in his rating , never mind the slow pace etc etc etc

  21. joao says:

    The ONLY way to sort out “low” rated horses is to FORCE trainers via the programme to self handicap and run them in claiming races. This will NEVER happen in SA because at every single race meeting at some point during a winning interview or pre race analysis people STILL TALK ABOUT number of WINS as being the barometer. I still have to use the ute and rewind button to make sure I’m hearing ” but its a 1 time winner getting 3kgs from a 8 time winner”

    The cross the board adjustments made to the thoroughbred population is an insult to my intelligence.

    Claiming race will never happen in SA because the mentality of trainers and owners don’t want to be exposed by failing to correctly handicap a horse. Also moving of horses in SA is “not that common” Im not sure why but its almost impossible to move a horse from a trainer in SA and run it the next day with the new trainer. Our system does not allow for that. Be it our nomination system, our antiquated non runner policy our testing policy. They are all outdated and therefore what seems simple in other countries is almost impossible in SA.


    Thank the Lord, somebody is on the ball ! Bravo Joao, claiming races make up about 60 something % of US races.

    It’s the bread and butter of racing over there.

    What with the multitude of what Americans term ” 5000 dollar” mares we have here in SA, claiming races keeps the wheel turning.

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