HRNZ ratings system starts next week

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Media Release Thursday July 28, 2016

Thursday August 4 will be the first meeting in the trial of a Ratings System in harness racing.

Addington logoFollowing a robust process that identified four critical areas that needed review, a Ratings system has been developed to trial in the hope to improve the position of
harness racing and create a more fluid, competitive and vibrant racing environment in the North Island.

The three-month trial was approved by the HRNZ Board in June following the development of the Ratings concept.

Four key areas were identified where harness racing needed to improve. These were:

1. Create opportunities for average to poor maiden (non-winning) horses.

2. Create better pathways to ensure the competitiveness of struggling one-win horses.

3. Correct the imbalance created by the concessions for two and three-year-old horses.

4. Create a more effective system of allowing horses to ‘drop back’ when proving uncompetitive.

The Ratings System will operate as the name suggests.

Horses will be rated on their performances, whether it is winners, placegetters or unplaced horses.

The system is bound by a schedule of Guiding Principles approved by HRNZ.

The Guiding Principles have been designed to give appropriate penalties for the performances of horses and to provide a flexible system that enables horses to race
their way to their true level of competition.

Auckland Trotting Club Racing Manager Kevin Smith, who has been an integral part of the development of the Ratings System, is understandably buoyant about the prospects moving into the trial.

“I believe the Ratings will even out the racing population and lead us to where we need to be in terms of creating like-with-like racing opportunities. Potentially we  also envisage that this system will create avenues for horses that may not have been competitive or adequately catered for in the past.”

HRNZ Board Member and Licensed trainer, Rob Lawson, acts as the Chairman of the HRNZ Handicapping Sub-committee. He too is enthusiastic about the Ratings trial. “I’m
excited about the potential opportunities that will be given to horses, regardless of their ability.

This is something completely new and there’s been a drive for change to allow the disaffected groups of horses a chance to prosper – we hope this Ratings System will
achieve that, for the future good of harness racing.”

Lawson is also delighted with how quickly the project has come to fruition. From a basic, conceptual starting point just a few months ago the trial is now ready to go.

“It’s been a great team effort to get to this point, especially from the HRNZ I.T. and Racing Departments who have pulled the concept together well administratively and on a computing basis under tough time constraints.”

The Ratings System trial is intended to initially be three-months long; however should the trial prove successful it is likely to be extended and potentially applied nationally.

For more information on the Ratings System and its Guiding Principles visit

Courtesy of Stacey Markham, HRNZ