THE Review Board has completed their deliberations, findings and recommendations on the 6 point Merit Rating increase. It found that whilst it was correct for the National Horseracing Authority to seriously consider the Ground Rules on Merit Ratings as laid down in terms of South Africa’s membership of the Asian Racing Federation, they should also have taken into account the conditions for gradings of races laid down by International Racing Planning Committee which permits qualitative factors, not just ratings.
Therefore there was an over-reliance on correcting the slippage factor in merit based handicapping by increasing the population by 6 points. Whilst such increase has been used in the past, and was also used to correct rating bands for programming purposes and in addressing inherent difficulties in the relationship between merit ratings of populations between major and minor centres, the Review Board believes that the issues may have been better solved by determining a systemic review of the Merit Rating system rather than a short term solution of a 6 points increase.
The Review Board further found that an unfortunate delay between decision and implementation had caused unforeseen distortions and that complaints in this regard were justified. Accordingly the Review Board made recommendations to the National Board which have been accepted as follows:
1. The 6 points increase to be reversed for the major centres, i.e. Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and Western Cape.
2. Eastern Cape horses to go down by 6 points as a solution to overcome the unfair advantage of horses from major centres
3. Vaal Sand and Kimberley, no change.
4. That the systemic review of the philosophy of the Merit Rating System which began on November 12, 2013 be continued in the expectation that it will uncover a solution to the slippage factor.
5. That National Horseracing Authority accepts that South African domestic races will be de-linked from the international ratings as an absolute, and that twice per year at the international handicapping conference, the international ratings will be evaluated by the international body with input from our chief handicapper who has a seat on that body. South Africa therefore will join other Asian Racing Federation countries with a two tier system of ratings – domestic and international.
6. That at the end of each season, our handicapping panel will produce a definitive and official list of Ratings of Merit of the South African population which lists Merit Ratings of our horse population based on best performance. These ratings, as opposed to weekly handicap ratings, will be used for international assessment. Race ratings for defining Graded Races will be based on best annual performance of the first four finishers.
7. The effective date for the change in merit ratings as per recommendations 1 and 2 above would be for entries from 2 December 2013.