Quality Handicapping in Horse Racing

Quality Handicapping is a recent modification on the practice of handicapping horses that has proven to be very popular, especially with those who enjoy wagering on horse races. It addresses the complaint by many horse racing fans that both “Standard Handicapping” and “Weight for Age” handicapping have gone too far in equalizing the playing field and the better horses are not being allowed to establish a truly representative winning record. On the flip side, mediocre horses are winning races they would normally have very little chance of winning.

As with most handicapping, quality handicapping is somewhat subjective in that one person’s definition of a “quality” horse may differ from that of another. Complicating matters further, any one horse will typically run in a variety of races over a season, some being quality handicaps, others WFA handicaps and still others being standard handicaps. How a horse fares in one race will affect the weight assigned in the next race, with the exception of WFA handicap races.

As an example, the highly regarded Australian racehorse “Might and Power” won the 1997 Caulfield Cup with a 52.5 kilogram handicap, and when he raced in the prestigious Melbourne Cup later that year he was assigned an additional impost of 3.5 kilograms for a 56 kg. total – and still won the race. The following year, Might and Power won Australia’s top WFA handicap, the Cox Plate.

In some respects, the implementation of quality handicapping is attempt to right some of the wrongs committed in the past, though the intention of handicapping was always considered to be for the good of racing as a whole. With the variety of different types of handicapping used today and the fact that the same horse may run in those and even non-handicap races, anyone who follows their favorite horse can quickly acquire a good idea of their relative quality.

For the casual race fan, quality handicapping simply accentuates the quality of the field, allowing the better horses to reap their due rewards and allowing, as it were, for the cream to rise to the top.