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Prescott bemoans 'uniformity' as cumulative penalties are announced.

Byline: By Lee Mottershead

"FAIRER but less fun". That was Sir Mark Prescott's prediction for racing yesterday after the BHB confirmed changes to the handicap system that will affect no trainer more than the renowned Newmarket-based plotter.

Prescott was reacting to the BHB's decision to introduce a cumulative penalty structure to all regular handicaps and classified races, a move that will prevent multiple-winning horses racing under a single penalty before being reassessed by the handicapper.

The changes, introduced for all applicable races from April 30, will force Flat horses to carry an additional 6lb and jumpers 7lb for each recent win when turned out before publication of a revised rating.

Had the rule been in place on the Flat last year, there would have been 35 instances of horses racing under a cumulative penalty, while it would this year have affected Medici Code, sent off at 1-10 when scoring under a single penalty for the second time in four days at Southwell in February.

"The new system is going to be fairer but less fun," said Prescott, who last year saddled Alambic, Key Time and Warsaw Pact to win unpenalised for a second handicap success.

In 2004, he sent out Masafi to win four handicaps within seven days under a single 6lb penalty. Under the new system, Masafi would have been required to carry a 24lb penalty in attempting a four-timer.

Prescott added: "I'm not enjoying racing becoming more uniform with races all having the same penalty structures.

"That wasn't always the case and you used to be able to try to come up with little wheezes which, if they came off, left you feeling very clever.

"You're always looking for horses to run up sequences, although the horse normally lets you down by not eating up or not winning in the first place."

He added: "These things seldom come off, but they add to the colour of the sport. There's enough uniformity in life - it's the diversity of British racing that has made it so popular."

Explaining the move, BHB communications manager Will Lambe said: "Handicaps operate on the premise of equalising each horse's chance of winning, but the old system with regard to penalties could be said to have favoured the minority over the majority."

He added: "Cumulative penalties do not seek to prevent multiple winners from enjoying further success, but instead ensure such horses are neither advantaged nor disadvantaged against their rivals.

"This should not spell the end of horses running up winning sequences. However, 1-10 shots in handicaps are not in the overall interests of the sport."

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Prescott: new system is going to be "fairer but less fun"
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Apr 6, 2007
Words:444
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