16 Oct 14

Phil Smith, BHA Head of Handicapping on a recent Intermediate Chase at Newton Abbot:

“Newton Abbot got five runners of quality for their Intermediate Chase on Friday (10 October) thanks to their commitment to prize money, their excellent racing surface and the hard work of the BHA Racing Department in programming the race and alerting trainers to the opportunity.

“In the past some trainers have expressed a reluctance to run in such contests for fear of what the Handicapper might do to their horses’ ratings if they won or ran well.

“The Handicappers have strenuously denied that horses are put up disproportionately in such races, but rumour and perception may have contributed to keeping field sizes low.

“Hopefully a 3lb rise for Wonderful Charm from 156 to 159 will be seen as an encouragement for owners and trainers to run their horses in these contests. Not that the decision was a particularly lenient one, more a logical one.

“All of the horses were making their seasonal debut, one fell and two others clearly ran below their best form, while Colour Squadron is a third season novice. It made sense to make the minimum change required to Wonderful Charm so that in future he would not be receiving any weight from the opponents he faced at Newton Abbot.  Anything more draconian would have been speculative and difficult to justify, a basic aspect of handicapping and one which we apply consistently.”