Changes to the handicap rating bands will be introduced by New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing for the 2018-19 racing season. In addition, from 1 June 2018 most races will have a re-rating ceiling for the first five placegetters.
The changes follow NZTR’s annual handicap review meeting, which was held this month.
No winner will be given more than 12 rating points, with a maximum of five points for finishing from second to fifth.
The maximum re-rating will not apply to Listed or Group races nor to races that are restricted by age. Jumps races and maiden flat races will also be excluded from the re-rating ceiling, with the policy of re-rating maiden flat winners at 62 or higher maintained.
The introduction of a maximum re-rating is to provide a clearer indication of the likely impact of running horses out of their grade, particularly in Open handicaps. It is felt that the changes will encourage greater participation, while still providing sufficient discretion for the Handicapper.
The changes in the rating bands, which will take effect on 1 August 2018, are designed to help horses move through the grades more quickly, which should lead to a boost in Open class numbers.
Rating 65 races will be retained but Rating 75 races will be replaced by Rating 72 races and Rating 85 races will be replaced by Rating 82 races.
This should produce a greater spread of weights in the “new” Open grade (R83+), at Feature meetings, with horses rated at 97 carrying 60kg and horses rated above that carrying another 0.5kg per rating point. Under the current template, horses rated at 99 are allotted 60kg in the open races at Feature meetings.
However, from 1 August the connections of the top-weighted horses will also have the option of using an apprentice rider, with apprentice allowances to be claimable in all Open races - excluding Group and Listed races - on Feature days and below. At present, allowances are usually only available in one Open race per Feature meeting.
A minor alteration will also be made to the balloting conditions for set weight and weight-for-age Group and Listed races.
The timeframe for Group II placegetters and Group III and Listed winners to have priority entry has been reduced from 18 months to 12 months. The same timeframe will apply to horses who were placed in a Group I two-year-old race.