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What is the relationship between a horses handicap mark and the weight it carries during a particular race?

by Lee

Why do horses sometimes not carry weight relative to its handicap mark?

For example, a race at Kempton last night featured the horse Star Zinc. This was the timeform racecard analysis of the horse beforehand:

"Course winner in November. 15/2, good second of 10 in handicap at Southwell (1m) 11 days ago. Big player off only 1 lb higher".

The horse did have its handicap mark increase by 1 (from 72 to 73), however, the weight the horse carried in this race actually decreased from 9-4 to 9-2.

In what sense does Timeform mean when they say this? Do they mean that the horse is actually carrying 1lb higher? Or that the horse has the potential to carry 1lb higher considering if it was entered into a race with horses with lower marks? Why would Timeform word it this way if this were the case?

I'm fairly new at analysing horse racing so forgive my inexperience!

Answer: Star Zinc's handicap rating had risen from 72 to 73 wich equates to a 1lb increase. However the actual weight carried depends on the conditions of the race and the other contestants.

The Southwell race was (Class 4) (0-77, 4yo+) whereas the next race (actually at Newcastle) was (Class 4) (0-80, 4yo+) which meant he actually carried less weight now competing against higher rated horses.

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