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“A difference of opinion is what makes horse racing and missionaries."

You asked – we answered

Capt. Kneesup

Capt. Kneesup


Crikey, I hear you say, I thought The Tissue had gone on holiday to Georgia for his annual Penguin Counting Festival, did his flight get cancelled? No, gentle reader, I have merely pulled the transport to the side of the island’s airport to provide The Judge’s precise and very correct answers.

The first question came from former Chef D’Equipe who asked:

I presume that ratings are based purely on comparative racing performances and should not have any degree of subjectivity. The 2013 Arc was won on soft ground over the same C&D by Treve carrying 8-8 in a time of 2m 32.04s (slow by 1.54s) and she was given an RPR of 131. Waldgeist carrying 9-5 won on very soft ground in a time of 2m 31.97s (slow by 1.47s) with a double Arc winner behind him but is given an RPR of only 128. Could you please educate me as to the likely rationale?

Reggie Burghley-Norris ISTD

Ratings will always contain subjectivity, they are the interpretation of facts. I give you a couple of examples with which the Handicappers have to deal daily:

  • Think of a jockey who won very cheekily, never coming off the bit and winning by a neck but hard held. There is no reason to think that giving the runner up a one-pound pull is going to equalise their chances next time as might have been true if both were “all-out”. The objective fact is that the winner did so by a neck but that only tells you one thing – their spatial relativity as they crossed the finishing line. Judgement has to come into every race considering how the trip, track, going, the pace of the race, tactics and luck in running has affected each runner. A similar example, over jumps: the winner won by 25 lengths. But he looked like he might not win at all until his chief rival slipped on landing at the last.
  • Even if the result does not need subjective judgement, it is never the case that every indicator is pointing in the same direction. Say that the winner showed itself to be 4lb better than the runner up and 10lb better than the third. But, based on the previous form, each of those beaten horses were rated 70. Has the second run to its rating, making the winner 74? Or has the third run to his rating, making the winner 80 and the runner up 76? Or is the truth somewhere between the two (or somewhere else entirely). There is no objective answer. In a field of ten horses, each horse provides a piece of evidence and balancing the competing evidence is the skill of the Handicapper.

The times taken by Treve and Waldgeist in their races are relevant but are not as objective as they look in evidence terms. To compare them we have to make a calculation and judgement on the nature of the ground. Experts at speed figures will tell you that going described as “Soft” will slow down the horses compared with “Good” ground. But “Soft” might have slowed them down by 30lbs over the course of the Arc (Soft but only just) or it might have slowed them down by 70lb (Soft and almost Heavy). You can only find out by watching every race to see whether the pace was “honest” and then comparing the times with every other race on the round track at Longchamp that day.

I hope that answers your question, Reggie.

Another question was thus:

Why is Sophie Ralston not allowed to claim 5lbs in her 6:40 Kempton ride this evening? I know it’s a Conditions stakes race, but why no allowance?

Marguerita Anchois

RULE 51 says that they can claim in WFA races of Class 3 and below. This was a Class 2 race. You will sometimes see in Listed races or valuable Sales races where connections want to stick with an apprentice that won on it last time, but they do so knowing that the jockey will not be able to claim their allowance.

Can I thank the Judge on behalf of you all and hope he soon gets recognised for his exemplary work at the coalface.

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