Ratings Based Handicapping System Update

22 July 2019

Harness Racing Australia’s Ratings Review Team (RRT), comprising a representative from each State body as well as HRA staff, have continued to meet regularly since the National Ratings Based Handicapping System (RBHS) commenced full operation across Australia (with the exception of Western Australia) on 1 July 2019.

The RRT was established to formally review the system on an ongoing basis, as well as manage industry feedback with regards to how the RBHS (not programming) is performing.

Three weeks into the full operation of the RBHS, the RRT believe that the system is already showing very promising signs, with more competitive and even racing evident.  Other observations include some surprising performances and a notable change in starting prices, particularly the favourites – which should bring about improved wagering yields.

While a transition of this magnitude was always bound to present challenges, the RRT understands that some horses seemingly hard done by and some others seemingly rated low, but as horses race through this transition period, they will continue to find their true rating.  It is the overall benefit to the long-term industry sustainability that the RRT is committed to.

The RRT is attuned to industry feedback.  To date, most of this relates to individual horse ratings, the placement of horses to advantage or other situations which can be dealt with through the refinement of programming.

The RRT will continue to monitor the performance of the NBHS, but for now are satisfied that there are no material issues with the structure of the system itself.  The RRT also dismisses commentary that the system is not National.  With the exception of WA, all other States are working within the National Handicapping Rules (http://www.harness.org.au/rules/AUSTHCPR.PDF).  It is the programming approach that may differ between States – but this is expected as States design the best race programs for their existing horse population.

That said, industry feedback is always welcomed, and should be provided to the RRT via rrt@hra.com.au or via your State Controlling Body.

The RRT wishes to thank owners, trainers and drivers for their co-operation, understanding and patience throughout the transitional and embryonic stages of the system. As horses continue to transition away from the class system and into ratings racing, the full effect of ratings handicapping will develop as we work together to strive towards a more fair, equitable and competitive racing product into the future.