What Are We Weighting For?

We get the experts' take on the weight debate

racing tips weighting

Weight and handicapping have long been a cornerstone of form analysis for racing tips… but that doesn’t make it a science that’s been settled!

Form analysis is an ever-changing beast, as is the market and the way it incorporates different factors. Don Scott popularised the analysis of weight in Australia… now some argue it’s a very minor factor, while for others it’s as important as ever.

So what to think? We asked some of the Champion Bets professionals for their thoughts on weight.

Weight is one factor among many that goes into pricing a horse. It’s not as big a factor as the old 1 length = 1.5 kgs that Don Scott worked on. Most analysts would use a compressed version of that.

Weight is easier to carry over shorter trips, so the compression is more for a 1000m race than a 2400m race.

Weight would be one of the last things that I consider, and one of the least important factors. I still think it’s a factor, but I focus on sprint racing and I think it becomes more of a factor over longer distances.

I think there’s more important things to consider than weight, and it’s more just about making small adjustments to a horse’s previous ratings based on whether it goes up or down in weight. I think maybe some people consider one kilogram to be equal to one length or something like that. I don’t see it like that at all, I think it’s significantly less.

I think it’s a factor, but I don’t think it’s that important and I think the market probably factors it in for you already – it’s one of those obvious things that everyone can see. I don’t there’s as much importance in it as there is in other things that perhaps aren’t as obvious.

I think it’s starting to go the other way, in that it used to be a bit overrated but now is becoming a bit underrated. Some people say weight doesn’t matter – which is patently untrue – it does slow them down. We have gravity on planet earth and weight does push down upon a horse!

I think the market used to put more focus on weight than I did, but now I think it puts less focus – or almost none – on it.

It’s perhaps not as important as it is in a strictly physics sense because horses don’t go flat-out throughout a race in most races. When horses are going below top speed, and below cruising speed, then a bit of extra weight won’t be hurting them as much because they’re only bowling along anyway. In the final stage of a race, that’s when the weight will have an effect… or will have its greatest effect.

You do need to discount it a bit from the traditional thinking, but it certainly does have an impact. I see it all the time. Boom Time won the Caulfield Cup because he had no weight. People wrote him off but didn’t pay any attention to the fact he had 52kgs. If he had 58kgs he wouldn’t have won the race. People don’t seem to treat the handicap races properly like that – if horses are down in the weights and have a six or seven-kilogram advantage, that makes a difference.

The Cox Plate is a good example in terms of weight-for-age. Typically the best horse wins and better horses have the advantage. But good three-year-olds like Shamus Award win because they get a good run in front and then are able to sprint away because they’ve got no weight. Savabeel did the same thing a few years earlier: there was a soft run with no pressure and he was able to sprint better than all of them because he had no weight.

It has the most impact in a fast-run race. When a horse is perhaps leading with 60kgs it’s very, very tough to keep going because he’ll be really feeling his weight. If he’s going flat-out and there’s another horse of much less ability but with seven or eight kilograms less, then he’s really going to feel that.

Key learnings

  • It’s one of many factors, but weight does have an impact!
  • The effect of weight perhaps isn’t as great as the traditional thinking around weight as summarised by Don Scott.
  • A horse’s performance with certain weight can’t be considered in isolation, but rather alongside factors such as the horse’s fitness level, natural acceleration, the pace the race is run at and the track conditions.

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