/ / Your Complete Guide to Horse Racing Handicap for 2022

Your Complete Guide to Horse Racing Handicap for 2022

January 22, 2022 1990 0
Your Complete Guide to Horse Racing Handicap for 2022

Ready for horse racing handicap betting this 2022? Here's your guide.

Horse racing remains one of the highly followed betting activities for avid gamblers. Data from 2015 show that in Australia alone, horse race betting was participated by as much as one million bettors. Day by day, many new gamblers are enticed by how profitable horse race betting can be. Unfortunately, not many are aware of some of the betting terminologies. One of them is the handicap. 

What is a Horse Racing Handicap?

Horse racing handicap refers to the use of horses with a pre-arranged weight, usually based on their previous performance. This method allows for a level playing field among the participants. For example, horses with a good track record will have to carry more weight, making it harder for them to race faster. Ultimately, it will give all horses equal footing during the race. Given this, the horse racing handicap can be a challenging betting option for newbies because it will require them to have deep knowledge of the rules before they can accurately place their bets and expect a huge win. 

How Does Handicap Betting Work for Horse Racing?

Imagine a horse race where one horse dominates. It would be a given that the particular horse will win. As such, all bets will be placed on that horse. In the betting sense, it wouldn’t really bring higher odds. Handicap races make it possible to make the race as close as possible by giving the best horses a “handicap” or a weakness by placing more weight. 

There is a notion that horses that carry the most weight will directly impact their speed, endurance, and stamina. As winning horses will carry more weight, horses with lesser wins will carry lighter weights to give them an advantage on the track as they race in a straight line. With equal capacity, how do you choose a winner to bet on? The answer? You have to be better at selecting the best horse than the handicap official chooses.

What are Horse Racing Handicap Weights?

Handicap weights are a 1lb additional weight in the seat as a point difference in rating. If a horse has a 100 rating, it needs 5lbs more to carry against its opponent that has a 95 rating. This principle creates equal opportunities for horses to win despite their rating and weight differences. The total weight of a horse includes the jockey, the saddle, and the weight cloth, with the additional weights placed under the saddle.

Horse jockeys need to weigh in and weigh out in the weighing room right after all the horse races. This procedure ensures that the horses carry the correct designated weight for the race.

Horse Racing Handicap Rating

The total weight of the horse and the jockey affects the overall speed and the perceived capacity of the horse. A ‘handicapper’ is the authorized person in allocating weights to the horse and analyzes its past performances to determine how much weight it should carry for the race.

Horse racing handicap rating executives are assigned to every racehorse and determine the rating once a horse participates in at least three races or dominates a race. This helps a handicapper obtain an accurate idea of a horse’s racing capability and appoint an official rating. They also serve as its handicap mark as well.

A handicapper may request a contender for a fourth race to determine the rating. If it is difficult for the officials to decide on a horse’s capability with three races, they may request for an extra run.

Horse racing handicap ratings constantly change as they are analyzed weekly. A handicapper will evaluate a horse’s performance every time it participates in a race, which causes an increase or decrease in its rating. These are the factors that affect a horse’s ratings:

  • A horse's rating will decrease after losing by a big margin.
  • The rating can be retained once a horse performs a decent race.
  • A horse can increase its rating if it wins a race by a big margin.

Horse Racing Handicap Penalty

Handicaps cannot be changed once a contender enters for a race. When a horse dominates a race after receiving its rating, the officials will penalize them by giving additional weight that will take effect depending on the guidelines of the race. Dominating a race may also not result in penalties.

A horse will retain its rating and weight if it manages not to receive any penalty. Since horse racing handicap rating cannot be changed a few days before the race, the handicapper will have the opportunity to evaluate some horses in between their win and the next race while on a penalty.

If a horse is “Ahead of the Handicapper,” it means that the official evaluates a higher rating than the penalty weight. The horse will need to bear a heavier weight for its next race.


Horses compete with different competitors in every race. They don’t race against the same horses for every run. Cheaper horses compete in claiming races, which can be bought for a particular claiming price of the race.

Dropping from a straight maiden race to a maiden claiming race has one of the largest value plays for a horse. But there are claiming races that are wide open, which means the number of wins in a horse’s career does not matter. Some claiming races are for the horses who lost the race other than claiming or maiden, or those who lost three or four races. 


One of the factors of horse racing is the track condition, where horses prepare for a fast, slow, sloppy, muddy, and distance of a run. The capabilities of horses vary with the distances that they run. Some are good with long distances, then there are those who excel in short distances. You need to be aware of a horse’s capability, especially its speed. If horses run in short distances, make sure to study their performance first if it runs in long-distance races.

Observe the Replays

There are times that horses get into trouble, which can also endanger your wager on the race. A horse may end up four-wide around the turn, boxed in, or caught behind the pack with no chance of regaining. 

You can watch and observe the replays of the races to determine the strengths and weaknesses of the horses. This will give you an advantage in placing your bets in horse racing and avoiding making mistakes.

Horse Jockeys

It is also important that you monitor a jockey’s condition, especially the new ones. You should know their health status, workout routine, diet, and lifestyle, which affects their way of racing horses.


It is common for bettors to have their favorite horse in betting. But statistics show that thirty percent of the favorites would win, and the seventy percent would go to other bettors. Betting on horses would be more successful if you look for a horse’s value more.

Last Race Date

There are horse racing seasons that last for only a short period of time, where owners and trainers will maximize their capabilities to have more races in that season. You should look out for horses that haven't raced for more than a month, which probably means there is a problem with management. But there are horses that are off for a longer period of time, and yet perform well between their last race date and their recent race date. Winning stables produce these kinds of horses.

The Closing

Horses are over bet when they constantly build ground during the stretch and lose the race. This happens when a horse suddenly makes a big move in its last run and has not used that closing kick in its past races. Bettors would anticipate a stronger and improved performance on the horse’s next race, which would normally result in overbetting. It is normal for horses to digress next time out, most especially to cheaper horses.

Post Position

Post position in horse racing does not have much impact on a horse’s run, but it would still be a factor for its total performance. You may consider horses who have won some races that started in outside posts and resulted in wide trips.


Speed is a huge factor in dictating your horse betting activities. Horse race organizers post the racing statistics showing how fast a horse finished a race. They show records of the winning time, which determines how fast a track was on a particular race.

Race tracks change every day and affect every horse’s performance during a race. There are locations where rain would usually come and go, which causes mud on the track. Owners and trainers would prepare for this situation to prevent horse and jockey injuries and hope for a win.


Handicap is the widely used horse racing technique around the world, as it provides greater odds of winning for the contenders and bettors. Organizations make sure that there is an equal playing field among the contenders, which will make spectators and bettors experience a more challenging and thrilling race to watch.


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