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RacingBetter News
Tuesday 13th October 2020
Understanding Horse Race Handicapping for Smarter Betting

Horse racing is among the oldest gambling industries, and online betting sites have made it more accessible. It presents excellent opportunities to make money. However, if you are to get the most out of horse race betting, you must comprehend how handicapping works. Handicap races are popular, and some punters bet on them without realising. From the Grand National to the Cheltenham Festival, bettors can encounter handicap races everywhere. So, knowing how the system operates should help you decide how to bet.

What is Handicapping in Horse Racing?

If you have ever wagered on sports, then you might have a clue of what a handicap is. It’s when a stronger side in a competition gets a shorter lead to reduce the advantage. In horse racing, the concept is somewhat similar. See, in a race, all horses are not equal. You will have racers that are stronger or more experienced than others. It would be unfair if weaker horses had to compete with these racers under the same conditions. Hence, the handicap system. The solution is to have the stronger horses carry a certain amount of weight to level the playing field. Handicapping is designed to give all races equal opportunities. Before you start looking up the best horse racing betting sites, note that any race can run on handicap rules.

Horse Racing

Rating Horses

Now that you grasp the need to weight some horses, you might wonder, how do they know how much weight a particular racer should carry? Well, the British Horseracing Authority has official handicappers who are responsible for assessing the animals and assigning ratings. Firstly, a handicapper has to give an official rating. On betting sites, this will appear as OR. This ranking is based on a horse’s three runs on similar races. A handicapper will take the average and consider it the OR. This rating influences the races that a particular animal can join. Races in the handicap system are in levels A to G with A having the best quality racers and G, the lowest.

After the OR, a horse is judged on a race by race basis, and the result updated weekly. The handicapper then decides the right penalty to use depending on the rating. It can be 3, 5 or 7 pounds. Eligibility criteria vary with the type of race. The way a horse is rated for a jump race is not the same as for a flat race. A jump race uses a slightly modified version of the above system. Horses still have to run three races to qualify. However, the races have to be steeplechase or hurdle, in any combination and located in the UK, Ireland or France.

‘Beating’ The System

Punters should be aware that some horse trainers and owners navigate the system to their advantage. Handicapping in horse racing is not foolproof. One common strategy to tilt the odds in a racer’s favour is to get a lower rating. Trainers do this by entering horses in tougher races than they would ordinarily run or use harsher courses. The racer gets a low rating, and when it joins a competition, it performs well because the conditions are better.

Betting on Handicap Races

Once you get the components of horse racing handicap, you can make informed decisions when wagering on handicap races. The key is identifying the best racer in a competition. Before betting on a race check out the official handicap listing for a particular event and get the opinions of the handicapper if possible. Look at the past performance of a racer. Ask yourself if the horse has ever run that course before. If so, how well did it do? If a horse is new to a race, what chances does it have?

You should also learn to evaluate weighting. For example, if a horse is carrying 10 pounds, find out if it has had that handicap in previous races. How did it handle it then? Check the class of the horse that you intend to bet on. Find out if it’s running among weaker or stronger company than usual. Punters should also look at horses that fall or rise in their handicap classes. Another tip is to avoid staking on the favourite blindly. Don’t ignore a horse’s penalties for its past wins. Such considerations should shed some light when betting on horse racing.

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