BHA needs to restrict eligibility to handicaps; LETTERS.
BHA needs to restrict eligibility to handicaps THE BHA raised concerns regarding alleged gambles at Bangor on Mega Mind and About Glory on August 31.
Neither horse had recorded any worthwhile form over obstacles and both were making their handicap debuts over jumps.
While the BHA is applauded for drawing the attention of the stewards to the alleged gambles, a more important issue lies with how the handicappers considered both horses were eligible for handicap marks with so little evidence on offer.
Mega Mind appears to have been handicapped on the basis of one run at Ludlow, while About Glory's mark can, at best, be attributed to a guess from the handicapping department.
If the BHA wishes to see fewer handicap plots - real or imagined - then it should focus on amendments to the system to restrict eligibility to handicaps. Proposals relating to distance beaten and a minimum rating might be considered.
One such, for horses running on the Flat, might be to restrict the awarding of marks to horses who had finished no more than 15 lengths behind the winner of a maiden race, seller, claimer or conditions event on at least three occasions and/or had run to a putative mark of at least 55 on at least three occasions.
The horse could run in an unlimited number of such events, but would not be eligible for a handicap mark until sufficient evidence had been offered to satisfy the distance and rating criteria.
A similar proposal could be framed for jumps horses. Horses running in maiden hurdles, novice hurdles, claiming hurdles or sellers might have to finish within 40 lengths of the winner on at least three occasions and/or would have to run to a putative rating of at least 90 on three occasions, in order to be considered for a handicap mark.
Mega Mind, About Glory and hundreds of other horses would not have been eligible to run in handicaps over jumps under such a proposal and the BHA would, perhaps, not have been faced with having to investigate two apparently, to many punters, unfathomable gambles.
Jerry Rankine Santa Monica, California
Sea Of Class: a fine advertisement for his sire Sea The Stars