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11 Jun 18 09:14
Date Joined: 05 Apr 12
| Topic/replies: 2,445 | Blogger: OliasOfSunhillow's blog
Trainer Mark Johnstone has said he would like to ban handicaps as they benefit no one except bookmakers. Personally I love handicaps and especially low grade ones. Johnstone seems to completely misunderstand the connection between racing and betting, even in the past suggesting that TV should not cover betting. Should he stick to less damaging non sense statements like 'Always trying' , witness Fire Fighting's last run

What are your thoughts, do you like handicaps, should they be banned ?.
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Report knot in wood June 11, 2018 9:19 AM BST
i think mark johnston should be banned can never work his runners out.
Report saddo June 11, 2018 9:21 AM BST
I do like them, but once a horse reaches it's peak-whether that be a rating of 48 or 100- you'll only win one by getting beat a few times and dropping the mark. Handicaps encourage dishonesty.
Report Deltâ June 11, 2018 9:22 AM BST
he wouldn't be saying that if he didn't have a barn full of the shakes horses
Report saddo June 11, 2018 9:23 AM BST
Exactly what I said to my brother last night when he told me about this.
Report Deltâ June 11, 2018 9:23 AM BST
saddo  - they should highlight that to all new owners too - as in pay 25k per year to keep it, win a 3k race and then the handicapper will stop you!
Report saddo June 11, 2018 9:26 AM BST
At two or three they've a chance of improving past the mark, but them old uns we see week after week.............
Report salmon spray June 11, 2018 9:31 AM BST
I agree with Johnstone     Shocked
I would go for claimers as in the USA where you get plenty of opportunities for low-grade horses without the need to get their mark down. I'm not saying I stick to it completely but I largely avoid betting in handicaps.
Report equine flew June 11, 2018 9:41 AM BST
So you risk losing your horse every time it run?
Report salmon spray June 11, 2018 9:45 AM BST
Yep. Can't see the problem myself.
Report salmon spray June 11, 2018 9:49 AM BST
To be clear there are some non-claimers which are below our listed standard so if you had a horse that was halfway decent you could win the odd race without running in claimers. But in general the owners are used to the claiming system and if you have a distinctly moderate horse you run it in low-grade claimers at low-grade tracks. If it is really poor you probably won't lose it as nobody will claim it.
Report dunlaying June 11, 2018 9:59 AM BST
A competent trainer but spouts nonsense .
Report TheAnorak June 11, 2018 10:06 AM BST
A mix of handicaps, claimers and conditions races works perfectly well in France. Their claimers are much better framed than ours, which pander to veterans and set claiming prices well below what the market price at a sale would be these days.

For example, Longchamp later this week - a claimer for 3-y-olds only over 1m 4f, three claiming prices set at 18,000, 22,000 and 26,000, with an extra 1.5 kgs for each move up the scale. And an additional 2kg penalty for any horse that won a prize of 10,000 euros this year. Sealed bids after the race with those prices as a minimum, highest bid gets the horse. So if your horse is entered for 18,000 and wins by ten lengths, you'll probably get 28 to 30,000 as the claiming price.

Same card has a 1m 6f conditins race for 4-y-olds, not won a Listed race in the last year, or any class 1 this year, plus penalties for wins in class 2 or 3. Another for 4-y-olds and up rated 32kgs or less (i.e like a classified stakes) but with a 1kg penalty for every 4,000 euros prize money (win and place) collected since Mar 1st.

None of this is difficult, but the race planning in this country, at both BHA and course level, is simply terrified of anything that might produce a race with less than eight runners. They seem not have noticed that their current system isn't working.

We had some of this fifteen years ago - I wonder how many people know the highest price paid for a horse after a claimer in the UK? But when the Levy take fell in the middle of the last decade, panic set in, leading to the current 70% handicap program.
Report Deltâ June 11, 2018 10:08 AM BST
was it 50/60k ? The A'
Report Deltâ June 11, 2018 10:09 AM BST
anywon who types Johnstone should be banded from the Forum imo!
Report salmon spray June 11, 2018 10:18 AM BST
I'll get my coat      Blush
Report TheAnorak June 11, 2018 10:18 AM BST

Yes, £60k for the winner of a Pontefract claimer. Bought by Gerard Butler who wanted a horse to run in Dubai. The horse was called Boston Lodge, rated 90 - the race was on Oct 6th, 2003.
Report Deltâ June 11, 2018 10:24 AM BST
I'm sure there use to be a claimer of that ilk, 40/50/60k - run at Newmarket [RM]- Amanda Perrett won it one year ..
Report TheFear June 11, 2018 10:28 AM BST
what happened to Big Baz Cry
Report TheAnorak June 11, 2018 10:29 AM BST
That's right - one of the winners of that race was trained by MJ, Always Waining, who of course went on to win twice over the National fences.
Report TheFear June 11, 2018 10:29 AM BST
willie muir Devil
Report differentdrum June 11, 2018 10:34 AM BST
It is a surprise coming from someone who wins these more regularly than most with horses with a string of duck eggs to their names.

Personally, I just think he is swimming against the tide. The gates have long been left open. In recent years Saturday cards regularly have 5-6 handicaps. Divided handicaps are relatively new. Away from the major handicaps it is generally low grade stuff and clearly perceived as a great way for punters to lose money on a regular basis. Yes, it's great when you land a 20/1 winner but should you really just forget the previous 20 losers? In general I view handicaps as not some sort of intellectual puzzle but a trap.

That said handicaps are not the biggest problem for punters. That is the propensity for the jocks to mess up every half-hour or so.

The reliability problem of jocks is seemingly unsolvable but you could reduce the number of handicaps - a maximum of three at any meeting - and also reduce the number of meetings full stop. All weather should never have stretched beyond the idea of keeping the 'show on the road'.
Report elise June 11, 2018 10:38 AM BST
he made this comment a couple of months back, in the last few years i've read several comments by him along similar lines and as salmon says a preference for the usa type rac structure

19th March 2018

Today the Racing Post published some interesting details of the betting turnover at Cheltenham. As far as Paddy Power’s Festival Turnover Table goes – and it seems likely that the same applies to most bookmakers and betting turnover in general – no handicap made it into the top dozen races based on betting turnover and the same applied in 2017.
This, of course, is based on turnover, not profit, and it might be a very different story if we were looking at bookmakers’ margins. But it does make a mockery of the constant claims that punters love handicaps. As I have been saying for years, the only beneficiary of the handicap system is the betting industry and, despite the huge marketing machine that constantly plugs the big-field handicaps, punters still prefer non-handicap racing.
Report gutfeeling June 11, 2018 10:38 AM BST
Moronic stuff from Johnston, Hardly surprising though.
Report gerard June 11, 2018 10:47 AM BST
He has an entry in "The Racing Dictionary" this morning for those of you on twitter....
Report elise June 11, 2018 10:49 AM BST
i wouldn't say moronic gut, he often has racings interests in  mind when he makes comments, but sometimes he's a bit outspoken or blunt maybe

i have to say his dislike of the racing post goes down well with me
Report mouse muldoon June 11, 2018 10:56 AM BST
Silly to ban them outright, but I'd like to see perhaps 20% of class 3 and 10% of class 2 handicaps for older horses converted into conditions races, one of the conditions being that entrants should have had at least 6 runs. That would probably be too punter friendly though so it won't happen.
Report elise June 11, 2018 11:02 AM BST
i tend to agree, there's a place for them but some of the low grade stuff and some of the restricted ones like "fillies with 3 legs born within march and running off a mark of 70-75" need looking at
Report salmon spray June 11, 2018 11:02 AM BST
I used to like handicaps until they brought in these centralised ratings     Devil
Much more fun when courses used to employ their own handicappers usually called something like Brigadier Peregrine Silly-Toff.
Report gutfeeling June 11, 2018 11:07 AM BST
Out of interest then what percentage of HIT are Listed class or above ?
What happens to all those unable to make the grade ?
What percentage of racing staff would become unemployed ?
Just a few first thoughts that spring to mind, Also would black type become meaningless as far as the bloodstock industry goes as any horse racing would have to have some to fit into this new landscape.
Report GEORGE.B June 11, 2018 11:07 AM BST
The sort of race MJ may be envisaging we have at 8.50 tonight at Windsor - a classified 0-75 with all the horses carrying 9 stone.

Is this preferable to a handicap?

At least if you fancy White Feather you're getting a bigger price with him being up to 6lb 'wrong' at the weights.

One glaring disadvantage of such races is the betting EW terms, if there were 13 runners it would be a fifth the odds, so I can see why bookmakers may favour them.
Report Joe Lampton June 11, 2018 11:07 AM BST
mouse and elsie....pretty much agree with what you say. MJ is right about Handicaps. There's far too many and they're good for bookies margins and for me they aren't an attractive betting medium. Why don't the Racing Post produce an investigative piece reviewing the whole system and viable alternatives. Never go to the races to watch a card full of Handicaps.....why would you. MJ is just shining a light on the lie that "punters love handicaps"......who says so? The bookies so the BHA produce more and more of this garbage.
Report elise June 11, 2018 11:11 AM BST
r post won't agree with his views joe,  they're too reliant on bookmaker advertising and wouldn't pish them off
Report salmon spray June 11, 2018 11:12 AM BST
I would have thought it was common sense that if you have a horse which is a handicapper,capable of winning races,but with no chance of being Listed class then you simply can't run it on its merits every time or it will be weighted out of any opportunities.
Report sparrow June 11, 2018 11:17 AM BST
Let's face it we all have our own personal likes and dislikes.
Report elise June 11, 2018 11:19 AM BST
i think the questions you pose gut are quite rightly things that should be looked at, but given that there's not currently enough staff in racing and many yards are struggling to find people and that many of the horses currently not up to standard are shipped off to french abattoirs i'm of the opinion that it should be looked at

i feel that there's currently too much racing and too many low-grade horses coming to market, the people profiting are breeders and pin-hookers, like any business or market that stretches itself too far eventually it crashes
Report salmon spray June 11, 2018 11:23 AM BST
I agree there is too much racing but switching to claimers rather than handicaps would be irrelevant as far as that is concerned.
Report portmanpark June 11, 2018 11:23 AM BST
Why do we have so few claimers.Sure there were a lot more 10 or 15 years ago.
Report breadnbutter June 11, 2018 11:24 AM BST
Don't understand why it has to be a choice of handicaps or claimers ,having to cheat to win undermines horse racing .                                                                                                                                      Equally wining and then losing your horse also seems an odd concept.                                                                                                  Would think a system where you can have competitive racing off level weights for good prize money must be achievable ,you don't have to cheat to get in and if you do win you can take your horse home .simples   Of course the bookmakers want egg and spoon racing fed to the masses on a daily basis , although they tried to replace that with cartoon racing and fobts .      Where's the goat bye the way ?
Report elise June 11, 2018 11:25 AM BST
im not sure what the right balance is salmon, but the bha need to get the right people around the table at some point in the next couple of years
Report sparrow June 11, 2018 11:35 AM BST
Nobody can tell people what sort of horses to buy and without owners the sport has nothing. People keep talking about getting rid of low grade races when these races are consistently attracting double figure fields because these are the horses that are being bought.
Report gutfeeling June 11, 2018 11:36 AM BST
Well I'm sorry but it's plain stupidity as is blatantly obvious to anyone with a fully functioning brain, Lost a lot of respect for this forum and it's people of late with a Tommy Robinson thread getting oxygen but this as well.
I'm out.
Report TheAnorak June 11, 2018 11:36 AM BST
Winning and then losing your horse isn't compulsory - if you don't want to risk it, you stick to handicaps. That's why a mix of options for owner/trainers is the ideal. The current system provides no alternatives to handicaps. If you own a horse rated 80 on the flat, it's too valuable to run in any of our current claimers/sellers, but not good enough for Listed and above. So you end up as part of the midweek bookie fodder, because you can't get into the valuable weekend races.
Report elise June 11, 2018 11:39 AM BST
don't be daft gut, i'd agree with you re the tommy thing but you're one of the few that talk sense so just have the debate
Report Dr Crippen June 11, 2018 12:36 PM BST
They'd still cheat.
With graded conditions races, successful runners would have to move up in class to give the lesser horses a chance.
Most of these wouldn't be up to winning in a higher class, so they'd simply run them badly until their rating dropped and they could drop down a grade and compete again in their own class.

If you take out the odds on shots, conditions races are harder to find winners in than handicaps were the form is much more reliable.
Report elise June 11, 2018 12:39 PM BST
don't think (apart from mj) anyone fully agrees that they should radically overhaul it and do away with h'caps full stop and yes cheating will always exist no matter what the system
Report salmon spray June 11, 2018 1:02 PM BST
Does gutty often have hissy fits ?
Crippen I don't think you have understood claimers. If you run them below their ability and then drop them in grade you might well win a race but you'd also lose the horse for less than it's worth.
Report portmanpark June 11, 2018 1:03 PM BST
Think in low grade racing non triers occur in almost every race.I was told by a mate that an horse wasn't trying at Worcester.This guy has  had horses in training with some decent trainers.The horse was odds on finished 3rd.There were numerous threads on here why the jockey give the horse such a strange ride.Normally this jockey who as retired now I would have defended to the hilt.I think all but a small number of trainers and jockeys are in someway bending the rules.
Report Dr Crippen June 11, 2018 1:06 PM BST
SS I don't think you understand my post.
Surely you don't think that a standard conditions race is a claimer?

They're called claimers because the horse can be claimed. You can't claim a horse out of a conditions race.
Report DenzilPenberthy June 11, 2018 1:07 PM BST
In what way do handicaps benefit bookmakers? Mark Johnston is far removed from punting reality imo.
Report Dr Crippen June 11, 2018 1:13 PM BST
Of course many horses aren't trying in any race.

Their race programme is part of their training.
Report salmon spray June 11, 2018 1:14 PM BST
Yes my apologies Crippen.
My point DOES apply to claimers though.
Report Dr Crippen June 11, 2018 1:15 PM BST
That's fine SS.
Report howard June 11, 2018 1:38 PM BST
Johnston is an intelligent man but he wants racing run entirely for the benefit of owners trainers and especially himself.
Report thelatarps June 11, 2018 1:52 PM BST
Mjo has a point.

The purpose of a handicap as i first understood it was for a race in which a horse like Frankel or kauto star could be opposed on something like equal terms by other decent if inferior animals.
Instead these days we get all sorts of conditions races so the likes of Frankel and Kauto go off long odds on.

Mr Johnston himself has declared, in the past I believe, that the vast majority of horses in training can be educated up to a level whereby an official mark of at least 80 on the flat should be no problem.

That is where handicaps have their place. For good horses with a chance of winning a decent prize, probably in a saturday handicap.
Maybe some sort of minimum prize fund should be stipulated by the BHA if a racecourse wants to run a handicap.
20 grand for the winner, something like that.
Report crepello June 11, 2018 2:00 PM BST
Mr Johnston himself has declared, in the past I believe, that the vast majority of horses in training can be educated up to a level whereby an official mark of at least 80 on the flat should be no problem.


Where is the magic wand?
Report lord skywalker June 11, 2018 2:59 PM BST
ive always done quite well backing johnsons horses
Report only1mill June 11, 2018 7:37 PM BST

Jun 11, 2018 -- 9:19AM, knot in wood wrote:

i think mark johnston should be banned can never work his runners out.

The main reason I'd swerve a handicap is if any of his are declared, especially when they've been running twice a week for the past two moon over all kinds of trip!

Report onlooker June 11, 2018 7:45 PM BST
lord skywalker    11 Jun 18 14:59
ive always done quite well backing johnsons horses

Do  you sell those 'Lucky Pins' - too?
Report Dr Crippen June 11, 2018 8:02 PM BST
Why don't they just leave racing alone and let it be.

It's perfectly alright the way it is.
Report doantwin2easy June 11, 2018 8:15 PM BST
Could run racing in Johnstons back yard. Invite the hoi polloi round and watch the blue bloods have a little run out. Sure he's got a few acres and the results could be written about in dispatches and read by racing fans with great interest. If any attendees missed the gambling aspect, they could play penny up the wall or bridge. Wonder what Charlie thinks?
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