Weight Handicapping and Ratings (part 4)

Wizard Daily Report and Research - Thursday, 14 December 2023.

  • Weight Handicapping and Ratings (part 4)

Rating the race - Choosing the base-run rating

The following discussion focuses on the use of the Wizard run-specific rating when handicapping a race.

Firstly, on terminology.

The run-specific rating is the rating calculated after the post-race quality-adjustment. This is the rating (adjusted for tomorrow's handicap weight) that is on the LHS of each horse's formline in the Wizard formguide.

The base-run rating is the rating recorded by the horse in the race chosen as the most suitable for predicting how the horse might perform in the coming race.

When using the Wizard, the rating that becomes the base-run rating can be one of the ratings in the horse's past race formline (last 8 starts), in the past wins details (6 past wins), or even a past peak rating.

Choosing a base-run rating

The technique of using weight ratings involves an understanding of how past race performances can be used to predict what will happen in an upcoming race.

It is essential that the base-run rating be the best possible predictor.

When determining which run-specific rating is the most appropriate to use as the base-run rating, its is best to focus on recent form and/or form displayed under race conditions similar to those of the forthcoming race. 

For example:

  • The best rating from the last three starts.

In this case choose the highest run-specific rating from the last three starts - providing these races were run under similar race conditions to those prevailing in the forthcoming race.

On occasions you might have to look further back than the last three starts in order to find a suitable race for prediction purposes. However, care should be exercised in these circumstances. Remember, in most circumstances, recent form is best (the most reliable) form. 

  • The best rating at the same (or similar) distance - within 12 months.

When applying this prediction criterion to your pre-race analysis you might have to extend your analysis further back than the last three starts. 

Obviously, some horses will have recorded their best performances at the same or similar distance prior to their last three races.

(When taking this approach, investigate the horse's form in races at distances within 200 metres of the forthcoming race up to and including distances of 2200 metres. Over 2200 metres you can consider races at distances within 400 metres of the forthcoming race.) 

The vital point still to be considered when choosing a base-run rating in this manner (distance related) is the level of fitness and quality of recent form of the horse. 

The galloper must be as near as possible to the same level of form and fitness as that evident in the predictive performance before you can be confident that it will reproduce the earlier form.

Unreliable relative weight ratings

There are occasions when it pays to treat with suspicion a particular past performance rating.

For example:

  • An outstanding rating earned in a substantially higher class of race.

If a horse is a restricted class galloper and it contests (say) a strong Open Handicap and records a much better rating than those recorded in its earlier lower restricted class races, do not be surprised if it fails to reproduce that rating when it returns to its usual class of race. 

Very often the lower class horse is "carried along" by the better class field and, as a result, "runs above itself". 

On most occasions when it returns to its correct class its ratings will revert to a more "normal" lower value. Also, beware of particularly good ratings earned by horses in set weight events, for example in Weight For Age races and classic events. Often these gallopers are unable to reproduce this form when competing against their true class in handicap events. 

  • A rating earned at a significantly different distance. 

When choosing a base-run rating you should try to ensure that it comes from a race run at a distance similar to that of the forthcoming event. 

  • A rating earned under substantially different circumstances.

For example, if a galloper performs significantly better on rain affected tracks you should use a rating earned under those conditions if it is to race on an off-track in the forthcoming race. To use a lower rating earned on a fast track at one of its last three starts might prove misleading. 

Notwithstanding this, it is essential for you to be satisfied that the horse is sufficiently fit to reproduce the earlier (better) form. 

In the next article we will look at applying adjustments to the base-run rating.

(to be continued)

Warren - Wiz-Ed

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