Weight Handicapping and Ratings (part 1)

Wizard Daily Report and Research - Monday, 11 December 2023.

  • Weight handicapping and ratings (part 1)


Relative Weight Handicapping and Weight Ratings

This is the first of a series of articles on the quantitative side of the form analysis and the process of handicapping a race.

The technique of relative weight handicapping has been used by figure analysts in Australia and overseas for many decades. Indeed, in our recent profile of the great American horse-race bettor, Pittsburg Phil, mention was made of his weighting one horse against another.

  • When it came to the quantitative side of race analysis Phil was a proponent of what we refer to as Relative Weight Handicapping, comparing horse against horse, looking for relative weight advantage and disadvantage. (Wizard Daily Article 4.12.2023)

You will note that it is relative weight handicapping. This is because we are concerned with the weight that horse "A" should carry compared to (or relative to) the weight that should be carried by horse "B". 

We are, in fact, asking this question: what should horse "A" carry relative to horse "B", relative to horse "C", relative to horse "D", etc.

One of the major problems with the old-style technique of relative weight handicapping was the frequent absence of any direct form lines between the horses being weighted. This meant you might not be able to compare A and B directly and had to rely on a horse that both had raced against, C.

The absence of direct form lines was a problem for there could be issues when trying to compare horses that raced against a common competitor; the race conditions under which those two runs occurred could be quite different, and this reduced the quality of the comparison.

For example, the time at which these two prior races were run against C could be some time apart. Therefore, A and B could be at different phases of a form cycle. Also, the distances of the only medium races might be substantially different, the track conditions might not be the same, and so on.

The problem of establishing reliable, indicative form lines was a real one. The technique was also time consuming, particularly when attempting to compare the chances of 12, 15, or 20 horses in a race. 

There was an obvious need for an alternative quantitative method which would reflect the basic principles of traditional relative weight handicapping and would not only overcome some of the major deficiencies of traditional weight handicapping but also would be easier to use.

Weight Ratings

I developed my own method of calculating weight ratings, and when Don Scotts ratings methodology was to be integrated into my own back in the early 1980s we found that the two methods were basically the same. No real modification to my methodology was required, just some name changes.

The weight ratings on which the Wizards ratings assessments are based are relative weight ratings

That is, the rating is determined by the horse's performance relative to (or compared to) the performance of other horses in the same race. This point will become clearer when the derivation method is explained. The ratings are not absolute. They are not derived by a standard, inflexible formula.

The Wizard ratings are based on the of the relative differences in class between races and then adjusted for the quality of the field.

As you would be aware, there are a number of kilograms difference between (say)  a maiden class race and an open class race. In other words a horse rising in class must theoretically drop in weight or be on the improve in its form cycle to compensate for the better class of horse it will be asked to compete against.

In simple terms, for example, if horse A carries 54kg on a 50kg limit and wins a 59kg class race then horse A would have a weight rating of 63kg (that is, 59 + (54-50) = 63kg). We say that Horse A would have a rating of 63. (For the time being riders ratings etc adjustments have been ignored.) 

Now assume Horse B carried 57.5kg on 50 limit in a 56kg class race and was beaten a length. Horse B would have a rating of 62. 

It is quickly apparent that the big advantage of weight ratings over traditional relative weight handicapping is that Horse A and Horse B can now be accurately assessed if they were to compete against each other in an upcoming race, even though they may have never met before and no direct or indirect form lines exist to connect the two runners. 

The weight ratings are a measure of a horse's performance in a particular race.

Why Use Weight Ratings?

To sum up.

There are three major reasons for the superiority of relative weight ratings over the traditional techniques of relative weight handicapping. 

  • non-existent form lines

This is one of the major problems confronting the form student when handicapping a race by traditional relative weight handicapping. All too often no reliable form lines are available between contestants and one is forced to either ignore the horse(s) that cannot be connected or treat it as a "saver" bet. Both courses of action are unsatisfactory. 

When using relative weight ratings this problem disappears, for in all cases the ratings of horses are directly comparable irrespective of whether or not they have ever raced together or even against a common horse. For example, a rating earned by a horse in a special conditions race at Canterbury in Sydney is directly comparable to a rating earned by another horse in an open handicap at Caulfield in Melbourne. 

  • the unreliable medium horse

With traditional relative weight handicapping your analysis often depends on the quality of your indirect form lines. If the medium horse has performed in an inconsistent manner or if its performances are in any way unreliable then this can seriously distort your final analysis. 

When using relative weight ratings the danger of introducing errors through unreliable horses or unusually poor performances is removed. 

  • time taken in the pre-race analysis

The third problem associated with traditional relative weight handicapping is the time taken to analyse each race. It can be a time-consuming activity in locating the most suitable direct and indirect form lines. 

With relative weight ratings the pre-race analysis time can be shortened for a given number of races or alternatively more races can be analysed in the same amount of time. 

These then are three of the main advantages relative weight ratings have over the traditional method of relative weight handicapping. 

However, there are other points about relative weight ratings that should be noted: 

  • Relative weight ratings show when a horse is in either the Improvement Stage, the Peak/Plateau or the Deterioration Stage of its Form Cycle. 

For example, as the horse progresses through its Improvement Stage its ratings will reflect its better form by becoming higher. (The higher the Wizard rating the better the rating). 

  • The ratings often indicate the conditions preferred by a horse (state of track, racecourse, distance, rider etc). 

Again, a pattern will develop when this favourable factor is present. Some horses register their best performances when racing on a rain affected track; this will be reflected by the better ratings produced by that horse when racing under those conditions (assuming of course that the horse was race fit and racing at the correct distance etc).

(to be continued)


Warren - Wiz-Ed

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