Handicapping Principles
A Handicapper’s role is to ensure racing is delivered at a competitive level through the allocation of weights to be carried by each horse in a race with the purpose of equalising their chances of winning.
In Victoria we handicap from the top weight downwards to the required minimum. The credentials of the top weighted horse ultimately determine the spread of the weight scale in a race. In some circumstances horses who are rated on the minimum will be racing out of their class and will seemingly be disadvantaged by the scale of weights. However, these horses are eligible and have an opportunity to nominate and compete in lower rated races. Horses weighted above the minimum are eligible only for that class of race or have proven to be competitive at that level.
In Victoria the Handicapper will issue a set of weights for all Handicap races with a minimum top weight of 60kg with the exception of Group Races and 2yo races.
The Ratings are an indication of what weight a horse may be allotted in a particular rating band. The eventual spread of weights is determined by the field strength, and is at the discretion of the Handicappers, however a minimum spread of 5kg will generally be provided.
Once a horse has competed in a race their Rating will be assessed within 24 hours. In Maiden races only winners will be given a rating assessment during this time period.
A winning performance generally attracts a penalty. That is a horse which wins a race will on most occasions have its rating, within that particular class or level of competition increased in terms of those horses which have finished behind it. The severity of the penalty is at the Handicapper’s discretion and is based on a number of factors which include: strength of opposition, authority and merit of the win, the weight carried, and winning margin and time.
In assessing rating movements Handicappers do not factor in apprentice claims due to the relative inexperience of the junior rider compared to his more senior counterpart. However, all overweight is accounted for in re-weighting as this is a discretionary judgement of the connections in addition to the Handicapper’s specific analysis.
Generally speaking winning performances will attract a re-handicap between 1 ½ and 2 ½ kilograms. Wins by greater than average margins and / or by very lightly raced horses may attract a slightly larger re-handicap. Horses placed second or third could have their Rating increased, depending on the merit of performance and their proximity to the horse(s) ahead in the finishing order.
Ratings will not be automatically reduced for unplaced performances. An unplaced performance may be still be deemed competitive and as such any rating would not be lowered. For uncompetitive efforts a rating may be reduced by 0.5 to 1.0kg. Staying horses that have proven to be uncompetitive until they reach their optimum distance range would generally not receive a reduction to their Rating when contesting sprinting races.
Horses that race well above their current rating grade and prove competitive will on most occasions receive a Rating increase relevant to that level of performance. This may make a horse ineligible for a ratings race it was previously eligible for.
As a general rule, a horse that moves down to a lower rating band will be higher in weight, and a horse that moves up to a higher rating band will be lower in weight.
Only ratings issued by the Victorian Handicapping Panel will be recognised. Horses from Overseas and / or other states of Australia will be given a rating at time of nomination.
Ratings Based Handicapping (RBH)
Ratings Based Handicapping (RBH) is a flexible numeric based Rating system that varies in some aspects to those of rating systems overseas. Most numeric rating figures incorporated overseas equate to 0.5kg between each rating and is therefore classified as a “fixed” rating system. One of the advantages RBH has is that it recognises there are times when two or three rating points equate to the same weight at the higher level but divide into different weights at the lower end.
Using the RBH system, Handicappers allocate horses a numeric rating following a race performance within Victoria. The rating given takes into account the overall performance profile of a horse with strong emphasis on most recent form. The RBH template provides a guide for interested parties of the weight a horse may be allocated in each rating band. The weights shown on the template are guided by the policy which states that the top weighted horse for a race shall not be handicapped at less than 60kg. If the best rated horse in a race equates to 57.0kg on the template and is therefore the highest weighted horse it will receive 60.0kg and all other horses nominated will have their weights increased by 3kg.

RBH templates between all states that use the system have been designed to be compatible; however interstate ratings can only be used as a guide. Any horse that raced Interstate at their previous performance will be subject to a rating review by the Victorian Handicapping Panel. Ratings for Victorian horses can be viewed on the Racing Victoria website or otherwise trainers can have their horse ratings confirmed by contacting the Victorian Handicapping Panel within two working days of their horse last race performance.