Understanding the type of race you plan to be wagering on is a basic fundamental in doing form.
Australian racing has a wide array of race types with a view to catering for all racehorses across the states and territories.
A trainer’s goal is to find the right race for a horse, one which will suit the galloper and be most conducive to a horse tasting success.
It isn’t always the case though with horses often put in unsuitable grades.
Even though their lead up form may read well or poorly on first glance, a change in class or race type can dramatically change the result a racehorse may yield from start to start.
As a punter, it is important to be able to pick and understand these switches in race type.
A horse may have recorded three straight wins in Benchmark company. While that ‘111’ looks appealing in a Racebook, this can be deceiving if they are jumping in grade from a Benchmark 75 to Open or Group company.
On the other end of the scale, a horse who has struggled in their last few runs in Open company having been well beaten, may sharply improve into the winner’s circle dropping back to a Benchmark event.
Let’s work through each of the more common race types starting from the lower class events right up to the very top.
Maidens: For horses who have yet to win a race in their career.
Class: Restricted races for horses who have not won more than the specified amount of races. Class races start from Class 1 events for horses who have only won their maiden, Class 2’s are for gallopers who have won two events in their careers to date.
In New South Wales, these types of races only go up to Class 3’s however it is not uncommon in Queensland to see Class 6 events.
Restricted and Special Conditions Races: These events require runners to have met a certain criteria before entering. Restrictions and conditions generally relate to a horse’s age or sex, however other conditions include how many city wins a horse might have had or what sale they were acquired from as a yearling.
Examples of restricted and conditions races can be seen when looking at events specifically for two-year-olds.
Firstly, only two-year-olds may enter them.
Many two-year-old events have sex restrictions on them, that is, some two-year-old races are solely for colts and geldings while others are for fillies only.
The two major sale’s companies in Australia are Inglis and Magic Millions, each have their own two-year-old races for graduates of the respective sales.
Benchmark Races: Opposed to the Class structure, New South Wales instead places focus on Benchmark events. Following each race, the handicapper will allocate a Benchmark rating to a horse based on their performance. The rating is determined through the perceived merit of a horse’s run. If the handicapper is of the belief a horse has performed above their prior Benchmark rating, they will increase their Benchmark rating. A horse who performs below their prior Benchmark rating will drop in the ratings.
In the country, Benchmark Rating events as low as 50 are programmed while in Sydney, Benchmark races go as high as 95 before a horse moves up to Open company.
Benchmark Handicapping will be discussed further in an upcoming Michael Costa Racing update.
Set Weights: A horse’s weight is pre-determined for this event based on their age and sex.
Quality Handicap: A high level handicap where the topweight generally possesses a Benchmark of above 100.
Stakes Race: Events which generally attract strong quality fields, a stakes race will always be of a Group 1, Group 2, Group 3 or Listed level. Types of stakes races vary from handicaps, set weights, to weight-for-age.
Set Weights And Penalties: Horse’s have a pre-determined weight based on their age and sex although penalties are given to those who have won at Group level in the past.
Weight For Age: Is a race where a horse’s weight is determined based on Australia’s Weight For Age scale. A horse’s weight carried in a WFA event is determined by this scale which is generally used for the best races Australia has to offer. Weight For Age events between August and December are reserved for those aged from three and upwards while from January all ages from two-year-olds are eligible.