FIELD SIZES CAUSE CONCERN
Changes are almost certain to be made to Saturday race meetings next season in moves designed to increase field sizes, particularly during the post-Christmas period when the demand for higher rating races falls away. The change in strategy is expected to cater more for a lower class of horse, especially at prime metropolitan meetings in January when open three year old events have consistently produced the smallest field sizes.
A working group representing RWWA, Perth Racing, owners and trainers will produce recommendations to the May meeting of the Thoroughbred Racing Consultative Group. Two year old programming will also be reviewed with options to be considered including enticing horses to start earlier in the season.
The RWWA handicapping panel will record a merit-based rating for each performance for use internally as a tool in assisting handicappers to review each horse’s rating after each race. The panel will also review options for the re-rating of horses racing substantially out of their handicap in prime metropolitan races. It is anticipated that the merit-based ratings will assist in identifying poor quality races where lesser penalties may be more appropriate.
Studies of racing at Belmont and Ascot have confirmed observations by RWWA Stewards that racing is safer and fewer horses suffer interference when a cutaway rail is used when the running rail is out 12m or more.
The study of a random sample of Ascot races showed that 15 horses were blocked or suffered interference when the cutaway was in place compared with 50 horses affected when there was no cutaway.
As a result the policy adopted in 2008 will continue to be applied. This allows use of the cutaway when the club holding the meeting agrees to it. The use of a cutaway can only be implemented when the running rail is out 12m or more and the cutaway must be a minimum of three metres and be approved by the Stewards.
One of the hottest summers on record has seen RWWA clarify the operation and application of Stewards’ policies relating to racing in temperatures of 38 degrees centigrade or more.
The main consideration is the amount of time horses are held in the mounting yard and parade ring.
In extreme hot weather, Stewards will give consideration to using the shaded back parade ring after considering advice from race day veterinarians even if the temperature has not exceeded 38 degrees.
Factors such as humidity and wind strength will also be taken into account.