Handicapping appeals

The BHA’s Handicappers undertake to treat every horse fairly, with the highest level of integrity at all times, strictly on the merit of its form and using good handicapping practice.

We are available to provide logical and reasonable explanations for our decisions. If you have such a query, we will be happy to assist you.

If you have a concern or complaint about a BHA handicapping decision, then it is necessary to follow the steps below.

If you are reading this as a racehorse owner or racing manager, your trainer is the most appropriate person to follow these steps. Only licensed trainers can submit an official appeal. After reading the following information, please consult your trainer for further guidance.

What to do if you are unhappy with a rating (or a refusal to allot a rating)

Step 1: Trainer contacts the relevant handicapper

Find out who rated your horse and when. You can to search for your horse’s form or find individual race results.

The trainer can then contact the relevant handicapper via email or phone and explain his/her concern(s). The handicapper will then review the horse’s rating, or any non-allocation of a rating, since the horse’s most recent performance.

The Trainer/Handicapper protocol, agreed by the BHA and NTF, is helpful for such conversations. Handicappers will aim to respond to queries within 24 hours.


Step 2: Trainer contacts the relevant Team Leader (or Head of Handicapping: Dominic Gardiner-Hill)

If the trainer’s concerns are not addressed to their satisfaction, the next step is to approach the relevant handicapper’s Team Leader. If the original handicapper is a Team Leader, then the trainer will be referred to the Head of Handicapping: Dominic Gardiner-Hill.

In the event that the trainer is querying a rating, then the Team Leader (or Head of Handicapping: Dominic Gardiner-Hill) will review their case from first principles.

In the event that the trainer is querying the non-allocation of a rating, the Team Leader (or Head of Handicapping: Dominic Gardiner-Hill) will already have reviewed the original decision prior to agreeing that course of action. We would nonetheless welcome the opportunity to discuss the matter again. However, in this scenario the trainer can instead choose to launch an appeal at this stage.

Step 3: Trainer launches an Appeal

If the trainer’s concerns have not been addressed to their satisfaction via Steps 1 and 2, they can launch a handicapping appeal. Steps 1 and 2 must have been completed before a handicapping appeal can be initiated. Unless in exceptional circumstances the BHA is only able to consider ONE appeal per Trainer, per week.

To launch a handicapping appeal, click to progress below and complete the online Handicapping Appeal Form.

Only one horse can be considered per appeal.

PLEASE NOTE: Each trainer must agree to a deposit of £400 on submitting the appeals form. This will only be debited from the trainer’s racing account in the event that the Handicapping Appeal Panel concludes that the appeal had no realistic prospect of success. This is designed to discourage frivolous appeals.

Should the horse in question run again prior to completion of the appeal process, the case becomes void. In this scenario, the deposit would usually be returned unless the Handicapping Appeal Panel has held its adjudicatory conference.


What happens next?

The relevant handicapper will submit a similar form. The trainer will receive this form and has the right to correct any factual inaccuracies. It is also possible for the trainer to halt the Appeal at this stage, without forfeiting his/her deposit, as a result of reading the handicapper’s submission.

Unless the trainer opts to halt the Appeal process, three independent members of the Handicapping Appeal Panel will then consider the case. The Handicapping appeals panel is comprised of:

  • Justin Brandon
  • Rachel Candelora
  • Graham Dench
  • Adrian Grazebrook
  • Simon Holt
  • Steve Mellish
  • Keith Melrose
  • Maddy Playle
  • Clive Reams
  • Simon Rowlands
  • Vanessa Ryle
  • Stephen Smith
  • Timothy Steele

Former employees or directors of the BHA are not eligible to serve as Panel members; neither are those who have held a license or permit to train or ride within the past five years. Any paid consultancy work that Panel members may have undertaken for the BHA must be declared on application to join the Panel.

The trainer will have the opportunity to object, stating reasonable grounds, to any of the three members proposed to hear his/her Appeal and to ask the BHA to provide a replacement. The trainer will be privy to Panel members’ consultancy record with the BHA, if applicable. Panel members are also asked to self-exclude should any conflict of interest arise. The BHA retains the right to require Panel members to provide a copy of their betting records on request.

Once the sitting members of the Handicapping Appeal Panel have been agreed, each separately watches all relevant footage of the race(s) involved. They next consider the trainer’s Appeal form and that of the relevant handicapper.

The Handicapping Appeal Panel then jointly confers prior to making their adjudication. All three members of the Panel are required to adjudicate on each case. If a unanimous decision cannot be reached, a majority decision will suffice.


If a completed Appeal form has been received and the £400 fee authorised by 10:00 on Thursday, the BHA undertakes to notify the trainer of the adjudication by the following Monday (at the latest).

If an Appeal is successful, the Panel will adjust the horse’s rating – or allot that horse an initial rating – according to their adjudication. Any rating revision will be published the following morning along with the weekly handicapping reassessments.

Whatever the outcome, the trainer will receive written reasons for the adjudication from the chairperson of the Handicapping Appeal Panel. These reasons will subsequently be published on the BHA website.

To help frame your case and to understand what the Panel deems to be important, you can view all past decisions [dating from September 2018 when this process was updated].

If the Appeal is successful, the deposit will not be debited.

If the Appeal is unsuccessful, the deposit will also not usually be debited unless the Handicapping Appeal Panel concludes that the trainer had no realistic prospect of success. This is designed to discourage frivolous Appeals and to cover the BHA’s costs of convening the Handicapping Appeal Panel in such circumstances.

If the deposit is forfeited, the chairperson’s written reasons shall address this point and the deposit will then be debited

Handicapping appeal form