The calculation of handicap weights is reliant on a panel of experts employed by the National Horseracing Authority in an effort to level the playing fields when it comes to races of this nature. In this age of computers and artificial intelligence, handicapping by formula is little more than inputting the required data and pushing a button.
So, given some of the ‘handcuffs’ that the handicappers are forced to adhere to often results in skewed assessments, and do not always reflect the handicappers view regarding what see as the correct weights.
Handicapping a race that has a 10kg weight range – 60kg as top weight and 50kg as bottom weight – leaves much to debate for punters trying to unravel the intricacies of the system.
Jack Of Hearts is bottom weight for the Greyville Convention Centre Handicap at Hollywoodbets Scottsville on Sunday and with apprentice Jabu Jacobs taking a further 3.5kg off the back of Garth Puller’s charge, top weight Just Cruised In might find his rival difficult to peg back.
Jack Of Hearts has hardly been out of the money in the lower divisions but he has drawn well and is distance suited which makes him a serious contender – also taking into account that his stable is in good form.
Brett Crawford’s gelding Ultra Magnus did the stable proud on Wednesday and his Summerveld satellite yard appears to be coming to hand again after a break for AHS vaccinations. Stable assistant Peter Matchett saddles Zanzibarian who has had a single outing this term after running up a string of wins at the tail end of last season.
His recent seven-furlong dash was just a pipe-opener and that should have brought him along enough to be a major contender here. The filly Red Al, Steam Ahead, Our Coys and Just Cruised In are threats but this could develop into a match between the bottom weight and all at the top.
Hollywoodbets Scottsville goes into hibernation after this meeting with just a rural racing festival on the cards at the end of the month before undergoing its annual spring treatment.
Trainers have been quick to take advantage of the turf track with the majority of the races filled with capacity fields and a host of debutants making the maiden races that much trickier. If one is not a student of the barrier trials, then you will have to rely on the betting market for guidance in these races.
With nine races carded, the opening leg of the Pick 6 comes in the fourth race where many will be relying on the Duncan Howells-trained Marsanne. A winner of her first two on the poly, she was a trifle unlucky not to keep her clean sheet intact after having her saddle slip in her third start, resulting in her hanging as Craig Zackery became unbalanced.
She meets the winner of that race, Linear, on 1kg better terms but Lezzeanne Forbes’s filly races in steel shoes which may, or may not be, an indication of her chances.
Candy Galore, narrowly beaten by the promising Travelling Light last time out, should have a bright chance in the fifth but Wildly In Love, much improved in a tongue-tie, and the lightly weighted Extravargant, will be dangers.
The sixth is a minefield but the ever game and diminutive Winter Blues did not have it all his own way in two recent competitive Pinnacle Stakes events and although he has to shoulder 61kg he could be good enough to hold off the attentions of Graduate and Rocket Fire who caught the eye last time out and is a must inclusion in all exotic bets.
By Andrew Harrison