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Words of Wisdom – 4

albert-einsteinOne of the members has been helping me get my head around how to deal with the Speed Ratings that I shall be starting work on today.

To be honest, I'd be lost if it weren't for his help.

And , to top it all, he has kindly agreed to let me publish the content of one of the emails that he has sent to me.

So, a big, big thank you to PaulW for helping me and for allowing me to publish his words.

Speed Ratings - Weight Relevance

Good morning Keith

Just a few comments re: speed ratings that may be worth pondering.

Most speed ratings are based on either 1) Standard race times, 2) sectional times or 3) a combination of the 2.

Options 2 and 3 are only just beginning to come into use in the UK, where the information for sectional timing has been sketchy or non-existent until now - and in typical UK fashion, it looks unlikely that we'll change our methods before the Ark sinks.

Weight relevance is a massively debated issue, and also far more complex than most people realise.

The weight a horse will carry is based on previous performances (if any), and race class along with if the race is a handicap or not.

'Stakes' races tend to be run off level weights, although there can be allowances for age and sex.

The theory of a handicap is that the official 'Handicapper' allots weight based on performance and working on the theory that a faster horse with more weight can be balanced to the speed of a slower horse with less weight - if the handicapper were brilliant at his job and all horses always ran to the best of their ability, the horses would all finish in a straight line across the track.

It will never happen due to the inconsistencies associated with living creatures and the interference of (largely) clueless people sat on their backs.

Because of the variables that have to be considered, weight is as complex as speed ratings to calculate.

At some courses a length may equate to 0.2 of a second, whilst at another courses it is only 0.17 or maybe at a 3rd it is get the idea.

Obviously distance and going also relate directly.

However! Much more important than any of the above (in my opinion) is 'does weight actually stop a horse?'

And here is where I take a different view to either of those taken by the majority of punters.

Essentially there are 2 camps - the 'yes' voters and the 'no' voters.

Most punters have limited knowledge because it is assumed that as there is a handicapping system in place, it must be needed and (of course) it works (or doesn't).

I learned something years ago when I had a racehorse and got to see and talk to jockeys and trainers regularly on the phone or over a pint.

In discussion one day with a particular jockey and trainer (both top guys, and no longer in the sport) following a surprising run by my horse, I asked the jockey about certain points during the race, when I thought I had noticed something about the animals action.

After grilling these guys until they were well and truly fed up with me, I went home and decided to watch some old races.

What I discovered was quite startling initially, but totally obvious when properly considered. My horse had throughout the race been 'changing legs' at certain points - this wasn't a new discovery, it is well known that horses change their lead leg - what I decided was significant was when he was doing it, and that led me to study loads of races and reach a conclusion.

It is my opinion that at certain types of course, horses with more weight perform significantly better than their lower weighted rivals, and I'm convinced that the reason for this is that the horse is aware of the guy on his back, and how well balanced he is (or isn't); and the horse doesn't want the jockey coming off, because he knows if that happens he (the horse) could get hurt.

As a result, the horse plants its feet more carefully, reducing the likelihood of slipping.

In effect, on a 'tight' course, our heavyweight is likely to run a solid race against lesser weighted rivals which can be quicker, but are more likely to put a foot wrong and slip, or worse still, fall at a fence.

I remain convinced that this actually happens, but I'm not smart enough to have determined the significant values of weight or speed at a given course.

I'm also sure that this factor contributes to the impact of the draw on certain courses (especially Wolverhampton).

If I'm right, then weight can be hugely significant.

The answer to my earlier question, however, has to be a resounding 'no!'

I don't believe weight alone will stop a horse; he has half a ton of muscle to carry a weight of generally less than 160lbs.

Time to leave the pulpit...........

5 star ratingsOnce again, if you've got anything to say about Focus Ratings, please wander over to Focus Ratings Review and have your say.

As always...

My kindest regards


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