Three minor changes have been made to the NZTR handicapping policy, following the annual meeting of the NZTR Handicap Review Committee.
The maximum re-rating for winning non-black type open races and benchmark races has been reduced from 12 points to 10 points. The maximum re-rating for a horse that places in such races remains at five points.
The revised maximums, which come into effect immediately, do not apply to group and listed races, age group races, maiden races and jumping races.
A re-rating ceiling was introduced last June, to provide a clearer indication of the likely impact of running horses out of their grade, particularly in open handicaps.
The maximum of 12 points had been applied only once, and the Committee decided that a 10-point maximum would provide further encouragement for trainers to enter horses in higher grade races and still allow the handicapper enough discretion.
Changes have also been made to the maximum topweight for all Group III and Listed races run at 2200m or further. The current topweight is 60kg but from August 1 it will be based on a sliding scale, beginning with 59kg for horses rated at 97 or less, 59.5kg for horses rated at 98 and 60kg for horses rated from 99 to 103. Previously, the topweight was always given at least 60kg.
Horses rated over 103 will have a starting point of 60kg, with another 0.5kg for each point over 103, which is the current policy. The minimum for those races will remain at 53kg.
The changes were prompted by the trend for the highest weighted horses in races such as the New Zealand and Wellington Cups to have ratings in the low 90s.
Major Tom carried 59.5kg in the 2018 New Zealand Cup, with a rating of 90 and Sampson, rated at 89, carried 59kg. Bizzwinkle, who had a 92 rating, carried 60kg in the 2019 Wellington Cup with Prince Jabeel (90 rating) on 59kg.
Prince Jabeel ran third at Trentham but at his next start carried just 53.5kg in the Listed Kaimai Stakes (2000m) at Matamata, a race that attracted four horses rated from 95 to 104.
The handicapping review will also result in more opportunities for two-year-olds next season. From April 1, 2020, two-year-olds will be eligible to compete in rating 65 races and will be weighted 3kg below the weight allocated to three-year-olds on the same rating.
All changes will come into effect from August 1, 2019.