BHA handicapping policy regarding ex-French horses in jumps handicaps – a BHA Blog

16 Feb 24

By Dominic Gardiner-Hill, BHA Head of Handicapping

As part of our commitment to being open and transparent, and following some of the media coverage regarding the handicapping of the ex-French, now Irish-trained Ocastle Des Mottes in the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury on Saturday 16 February, I thought this an appropriate time to reiterate the BHA policy with regard to the handicapping of such horses – namely those that have left France, entered training in either Great Britain or Ireland and on whom we only have their French form on which to base a rating.

By way of some background information, it is important to point out that French ratings are published in kilograms rather than pounds, as they are in Great Britain and Ireland. As with all departments’ processes and methodology, we regularly analyse whether the kg/lb conversion rate used is still appropriate and as a result of that we changed the standard BHA conversion over jumps from 2.2lb per kilo to a straight 2lb per kilo in the summer of 2021.

As with all handicapping decisions, however, the team has discretionary powers to stray from the standard conversion in certain situations when appropriate – more of that a little later.

With that in mind, the process of giving a rating is:

– Check the current French rating of the horse concerned and make standard 2lb/1kg conversion.

– Then check the form of the horse concerned and see if it has either competed against or can be tied in with other ex-French trained horses who have been exported to Great Britain or Ireland and whose form may have settled at a certain level. This may persuade the handicapper to divert from the standard conversion.

– Check to see if the horse concerned has either competed against or can be tied in with British or Irish trained runners in France. Again, this may persuade the handicapper to divert from the standard conversion.

– As with any other horse entered for a British jumps handicap – wherever it may be trained – if we don’t feel there is sufficient evidence on which to rate the horse as accurately as we feel appropriate, we will decline to rate it.

In the instance of Ocastle Des Mottes the handicappers could find no reason to divert from the standard conversion for this horse, so he was allotted a BHA mark of 133 (66.5kg x 2).

One of the main talking points in the lead up to the Betfair Hurdle was the discrepancy between the mark published for Ocastle Des Mottes between the BHA handicappers (133) and the Irish handicapper (139: now down to 137 after Newbury). It is common knowledge that there are differences not only in the levels of the two jumps files in GB and Ireland but also in certain areas of methodology – we acknowledge that they have a slightly different conversion rate, that is obviously entirely their call and works for them.

Finally, the tables below show the most recent post-conversion review analysis (up to and including Monday 5 February 2024) on the performance of ex-French trained jumpers on their debuts in British handicaps – the first representing handicap hurdles, the second handicap chases.

Performance of French Imports in GB Handicap Hurdles On GB Debut


Performance of French Imports in GB Handicap Chases On GB Debut


It is clear to see that the current BHA conversion rate is not resulting in overperformance in handicap hurdles, if anything they are underperforming, whilst the figures for handicap chases are largely where we would want them with a Win Impact Value of 1.03.

As has become standard, we will continue to monitor the data closely in an effort to make sure all horses are fairly treated whatever their background when running in our handicaps. We will review the current kg/lb conversion rate again at the end of the current jumps season to make sure it is still appropriate in terms of achieving the above.