The National Horseracing Authority confirms that the registered name of the following horse has been changed with immediate effect:

APACHE SQUAW bay filly, sired by THE APACHE, out of the mare, CHESTNUT CHIP, foaled on 7 October 2015, bred by Mesdames S du Preez & G L Hannah and Mr S T Kelly, has been changed to that of APACHE DREAM.

Hazel Kayiya

The National Horseracing Authority confirms that its Officials attended an unauthorised “informal bush race meeting” near Lephalale on Saturday 27 April 2019.

It was established after serious confrontation, that several of the horses that participated were horses currently registered under the Rules of the National Horseracing Authority and that their participation was in contravention of Rule 93.2.1.

Consequently these horses are suspended with effect from 27 April 2019 for a period of 90 days and possible sanctions may follow against the connections of these horses in terms of Rule 72.1.24.


ONE WORLD’s merit rating remains unchanged on 117 after he survived an objection lodged by the Trainer of the runner-up and won the Winter Guineas over 1600m at Kenilworth on Saturday, 27 April 2019.  ONE WORLD emerged victorious by a short head following a protracted duel with runner-up VARDY, and it was VARDY who was used as the line horse to the 109 he actually achieved when beaten 3.75 lengths by ONE WORLD at level weights in the CTS 1600m Sales race over the same course-and-distance in January.

In the Winter Guineas, VARDY received 2 kgs from ONE WORLD which amounts in theory to 2 lengths over 1600m, so in finishing right alongside ONE WORLD the Handicappers firmly believe that both horses upheld the form of the CTS Sales race.  Accordingly, VARDY’s rating has been raised from 100 to 109. 

Third placed MAJESTIC MOZART confirms the 104 he ran to when he finished 6.5 lengths fifth behind ONE WORLD at level weights in the CTS 1600m.  Now 2 kgs better off, he finished 2.85 lengths behind ONE WORLD.  Nevertheless, the Handicappers exercised some discretion and raised his rating to 102 to keep him one pound higher than fourth placed HERODOTUS, who remains unchanged on 101.  Interestingly, MAJESTIC MOZART beat HERODOTUS into second place when winning a maiden over 1400m last August and confirmed his superiority over that rival again here.

No changes were made to the ratings of the three unplaced horses in the 7 runner field.


HELEN’S IDEAL remains unchanged on a rating of 99 after she overcame a wide draw and made most of the running to win the Sweet Chestnut Stakes for three-year-old fillies over 1400m at Kenilworth.  Here, the Handicappers took the view that runner-up SHAMROCK WIND is very unlikely to have run worse than when she finished sixth in the Grade 3 Prix du Cap over the same course-and-distance at her last start and accordingly used her to the 94 she actually achieved there to rate the Sweet Chestnut Stakes.  In fact, HELEN’S IDEAL only runs to 96 in assessing the race this way and hence her rating remains unchanged, but SHAMROCK WIND goes up to 94 as a consequence.

Third placed STAR FIGHTER goes up to her actual achieved 92, while fourth placed CHARGE D’AFFAIRES was raised from 83 to 85 to make her one pound higher than fifth placed DUCHESS OF BOURBON for the purpose of them meeting on the correct terms in a handicap race.

The only other change was to LESEDI LA RONA, who drops from 95 to 92.


ORPHEUS has had his rating upped from 88 to 94 after he made all the running in his first attempt on a Polytrack surface to easily win the Sledgehammer over 1800m at Greyville on Sunday, 28 April 2019.  The Handicappers felt that runner-up ROY HAD ENOUGH is very unlikely to have run below the 101 he achieved when unplaced in an off-season Pinnacle Plate at Greyville last September, a level he also ran to when unplaced in the Gr 1 Summer Cup in December, and accordingly used him to 101 to rate the Sledgehammer.  This is well below ROY HAD ENOUGH’s current rating of 109 (which remains unchanged) and takes cognisance of the fact that he was returning from a 123 day lay-off and was most likely not at his absolute peak for this event.

Rating the race in this manner has ORPHEUS running to 103, but given the false-run nature of the race and the fact that a rating of 103 would be completely out of sync with anything ORPHEUS has previously achieved, it was decided to only raise him six pounds to 94, in keeping with the conditions of the race.

Third placed OUR COYS remains on 73, while fourth placed EYES WIDE OPEN drops from 111 to 109. The only change to the unplaced horses was that TOP CLASSMAN was trimmed from 85 to 84.

Update on inaugural Handicappers Roadshow

The 1st of a series of planned Handicappers’ Roadshows was held at Kenilworth Racecourse on 27 April 2019, after the running of the last race.  The Roadshow was well attended and proved to be informative and enlightening.  The Handicappers rated the Kenilworth race meeting  of 27 April in full view of all the attendees and explained the current application of the Handicapping Guidelines.  This was followed by a questions and answers session which was very well received by those that attended.  Questions raised were answered and is included in the above release.  The initiative proved a success and highlights the Handicappers’ commitment to transparency. 

The next Roadshow will take place on 10 May 2019 at Fairview Racecourse, after the last race.  Roadshows for KwaZulu-Natal (1 June 2019) and Highveld (9 June 2019) are being planned. 



The Handicapping Team

The rationale behind the Guidelines as last amended in April 2016 followed from numerous meetings with all stakeholders at which it was unanimously agreed that horses should be protected from over aggressive adjustments and so ensure that they could achieve their fair share of wins.

Maximum caps were imposed on all maiden winners, and maiden winners older than three years were capped in such a way as to ensure that, generally speaking, a horse which struggled for some time to win a race would not be forced to compete in a handicap substantially above its capabilities.  In essence, this allows maiden winners to start at the bottom of the ratings pyramid.

It has been a long established practice that winners of ordinary handicaps could not be raised more than eight MR points, excluding any sufferance and/or overweight.   This especially protects horses whose winning performance by a wide margin could be flattering or ‘’once off’’.

All winners of Plated, Conditions and Assessment races (except in the case of compulsory runners in terms of the Assessment Plate rules now in force on the Highveld) cannot be raised more than six MR points where applicable, while placed horses cannot be raised at all, except at the request of the connections.

The specific conditions of certain individual races do impose further limitations on the Handicappers’ ability to adjust ratings freely.

Thus there are many opportunities for connections to expose to the Handicappers the true ability of their horses, by placing them correctly, without any risk of the horses’ ratings being adjusted to those achieved levels.  This is not an ideal situation and can amount to “beating the system”, but the rationale behind it is understood and applied by the Handicappers. 

All of these restrictions in essence can make it very difficult or even impossible for the Handicappers to correctly apply NHA Rule 47.3.2, which clearly defines the meaning of a Handicap race.

All of the above has led to an imbalance to the Merit Rating system, with considerable congestion at the lower end of the ratings’ “pyramid.”  At present, more than 72% of the horse population are rated 73 or below, notwithstanding the fact that numerous horses in reality have shown themselves to be capable of a higher rating.

When assessing Graded, Listed or Non Black Type Feature races, the Handicappers reserve the right to deviate from the Guidelines where they believe that it is in the best interests of conforming with NHA Rule 47.3.2 to do so, with particular reference (but not limited to) “unexposed” horses.  The Handicappers will however tread cautiously when a more exposed horse puts in a performance which is substantially out of “sync” with its previous form and apply discretion when assessing such horses, as they see fit.  

The Handicappers will also give due consideration to factors that could account for a sudden improved performance, including amongst others equipment changes, race distance changes, recent gelding, and any other factor which it is felt may account for an improved performance.

The fewer restrictions that exist on the system, the more sustainable the Handicapping system would be.  A literal adherence to the guidelines works against this and is largely responsible for the congestion at the lower end of the population “pyramid” and renders it very difficult to secure a thriving middle or upper division.  Deviating from the guidelines in Graded, Listed and Non Black Type races (which are by definition contested by a better class of horse) allows the Handicappers to offset this imbalance to a considerable extent by stretching the gap between higher class horses and “run of the mill” performers.

The National Horseracing Authority Handicappers have initiated a series of Roadshows to further explain Handicapping rationale and engage in questions and answers sessions.  The first such session will take place at Kenilworth Racecourse on Saturday, 27 April 2019 after the last race.



Further Roadshows to follow:


Port Elizabeth: Fairview Racecourse on 10 May 2019 after the last race.


KZN and Highveld dates to be confirmed and published on the NHA website.


The Handicapping Team

An independent panel consisting of Messrs R S Napier, K Nicol and J Vermaak convened on 16 April 2019 by teleconference to hear a MR Appeal lodged by Mr Colin Gordon on behalf of BIZE’s adjusted merit rating of 97 from her rating of 79 following her 4th place finish in the Grade 2 Wilgerbosdrift S A Oaks over 2450m at Turffontein Racecourse on 30 March 2019.

The Appeal panel was of the opinion that BIZE’S adjusted and published Merit Rating was correct and consequently dismissed the appeal and refunded the deposit.

The Appeal Panel strongly recommends that the Handicappers elaborate as to how the Guidelines are applied so that the public/interested parties gain more clarity.


After discussion between Handicappers, CAMPHORATUS had her rating increased from 95 to 105 following her last-stride win in the Grade 1 Empress Club Stakes over 1600m at Turffontein (standside) on Saturday 13th April. There is no reason to doubt CAMPHORATUS’ performance as she did win the Grade 3 Flamboyant Stakes at Greyville in December and she has now won in her first attempt at Grade 1 level.

In assessing the race, it was agreed that the right key horse to use was third placed NAFAAYES to the 103 she actually achieved when she won the Grade 2 Gauteng Fillies Guineas (over the same course-and-distance as the Empress Club Stakes) and again when she finished second in the Grade 1 SA Fillies Classic. NAFAAYES has been highly consistent and seems to be a logical choice of line horse.

RUNNING BRAVE goes up from 99 to 104 after she finished a close second in the Empress Club. She had finished behind NAFAAYES in both the Gauteng Fillies Guineas and in the SA Fillies Classic and it seems obvious enough that she must have run a better race here. NAFAAYES was dropped from 107 to 106 and is now the equal of 5th placed CELTIC SEA (whom she also beat in the Gauteng Fillies Guineas).

In other changes, OH SUSANNA was dropped from 119 to 118 and so remains higher than LADY IN BLACK (117), who finished 2nd behind OH SUSANNA in the Grade 1 Paddock Stakes during the Cape summer season. FIORELLA drops from 102 to 100, FRESNAYE was dropped from 110 to 108 following two below-par efforts since she arrived on the Highveld. GHAALLA has been dropped from 102 to 100, CASCAPEDIA goes from 109 to 107, and AL DANZA has had her rating cut from 104 to 102. 

Following the legislation passed on 1 November 2018 [Regulation (EU) 2016/1012 [Article 34], the General Stud Book of Southern Africa applied for recognition in January 2019 and the application was approved on 26 February 2019. On 3 April 2019 South Africa was included on the list of breeding bodies published under Articles 34(1) and 64(4) of Regulation (EU) 2016/1012 [Article 34].

The legislation states that, if not listed, horses of that country are not allowed to enter any EU-country or to be registered in that country. For example, a Thoroughbred exported from South Africa to France will not be allowed to enter France as a Thoroughbred from South Africa if South Africa is not listed, furthermore, this horse will not be permitted to be registered in the French Thoroughbred Stud Book.

• Colorado King Stakes (Grade 2)
After thorough discussion between the NHA Handicappers, DIVINE ODYSSEY was given a new merit rating of 105 following his very easy win in the Grade 2 Colorado King Stakes at Turffontein on Saturday 6th April.
The Handicappers agreed that 4th placed CASH TIME was the correct line horse to use to rate the race, especially as he had been beaten by virtually the identical margin by DIVINE ODYSSEY when finishing fourth behind the Colorado King winner in the Drum Star Handicap in March. DIVINE ODYSSEY has clearly come to form, winning two successive Pattern Races, beating many of the same horses at worse weight terms on this occasion. His superiority over these horses can no longer be in doubt and as such he is fully worthy of the 10 pound adjustment from a rating of 95 to 105.
Runner-up THE DAZZLER goes up from 94 to 99, while third placed DAWN ASSAULT remains unchanged. The only other changes are that SECRET POTION has dropped from 107 to 102, and SOCIAL ORDER has been trimmed from 103 to 101. 

• Sycamore Sprint (Grade 3)
SAN FERMIN was given a three pound increase from 93 to 96 following her success in the Grade 3 Sycamore Sprint (handicap) over 1160m. It was noted that SAN FERMIN had some difficulty in securing a clear run before flashing up late to win, and it is believed that in other circumstances the winning margin may well have been a little more than the official 0.30 lengths. As such, SAN FERMIN was given a three pound rise instead of the minimum two pound increase that is mandatory for any handicap race win.

Runner-up SCHIPPERS has been highly consistent in races of this type and was considered to make for an ideal line horse. Third placed DANCING QUEEN remains unchanged on 93, while fourth placed DESERT RHYTHM was another of those horses who was baulked for a run for some considerable distance. As such, it is believed that she may well have otherwise finished closer and her rating remains unchanged.

Other changes made after this race were that COVERED IN SNOW drops from 94 to 93, LAWDY MISS CLAWDY goes down from 90 to 89, and PRETTY PENNY has been dropped from 92 to 90. 

• Umzimkhulu Stakes (Grade 3)
TEMPLE GRAFIN saw her rating increase from 101 to 107 after she defied joint top weight to win the Grade 3 Umzimkhulu Stakes over 1400m at Greyville (turf) on Sunday 7th April. This was considered to be an impressive performance against some smart opponents, of whom the runner-up SANTA CLARA was used as the line horse. This way, TEMPLE GRAFIN emerges from the race rated higher than 3rd placed MARY’S PRIDE, who received 1.5 kgs from the winner and whose rating remains unchanged on 106.

Fourth placed PARENTAL CONTROL has clearly relished racing beyond sprint distances and had rating upped from 86 to 91, so that she would meet 5th placed ANNEKA (unchanged on 88) on the correct weight terms if they were to meet in a handicap. In similar vein, 7th placed SILENT CRUSADE goes from 83 to 87 and would meet 9th finisher STRAWBERRY WINE (who goes up from 80 to 82) on the correct weight terms in a handicap.

The only other change was ARIANOS SHADOW, who was dropped from 95 to 93. 

• Byerley Turk (Grade 3)
TRISTFUL has seen his rating increased from 86 to 94 after he comfortably won the Grade 3 Byerley Turk, also over 1400m on the Greyville turf. The Handicappers felt that in readily winning a Grade 3 race TRISTFUL would not have run worse than the 94 he actually achieved when winning a progress plate over the same course-and-distance on 17th March and accordingly used that achieved mark to rate the Byerley Turk.

Runner-up and long-time leader SOLID GOLD goes up from 83 to 90 and third placed TRIPLE FATE LINE was upped from 80 to 87, which would ensure that these two horses would meet on the correct weight terms if they were to take each other on in a handicap race. In other changes, GENEROUS LADY drops to 93 from 95, DESOLATE ROAD was cut from 96 to 93 and is accordingly now rated lower than his winning stable companion TRISTFUL, and STREAM AHEAD drops to 82 from 85.

The Handicappers are well aware of the very large 13 pound difference between the rating of the filly TEMPLE GRAFIN and that of the gelding TRISTFUL. However, in the Umzimkhulu Stakes there were more runners with established Graded race form than in the Byerley Turk. Furthermore, TEMPLE GRAFIN won with joint top weight of 60kgs as opposed to the Byerley Turk, where all the male runners met at level weights. Finally, it must be borne in mind that the first three finishers in the Byerley Turk were amongst the lower rated horses in the race, which is in total contrast to the Umzimkhulu Stakes.

The National Horseracing Authority is pleased to confirm that it has tested the state-of-the-art Hawk-Eye Smart Replay video technology system over the past 3 weeks, which is ready to be utilised to officiate at race meetings on the Highveld racing jurisdictions.

The Hawk-Eye technology is currently used in a number of sports, like cricket and soccer around the world. Other Racing jurisdictions, like Australia, have utilised this equipment for a number of years, which has assisted its Officials to base their final decisions using this modern technology.

A few examples of the features that Hawk-Eye offers are the ability to review four different angles simultaneously, the zooming in of the footage of an incident, filing of similar incidents into one file and to bookmark an area of the race for a seamless review when required. Another wonderful feature is that Hawk-Eye does not stop recording from the start of the race meeting until the conclusion of the meeting, all in High Definition.

The introduction of Hawk-Eye can only benefit the regulation of the Sport of Horse Racing, which demands the highest standards relating to integrity, rider safety and horse welfare. The National Horseracing Authority looks forward to the future introduction of Hawk-Eye to other provinces.

• SA Derby (Grade 1)

After a thorough assessment and discussion between the NHA Handicappers, SAMURAI WARRIOR was given a merit rating of 105 following his front running victory under a masterful ride from Jockey Piere Strydom in the SA Derby (Grade 1) at Turffontein on Saturday 30 March 2019 over 2450m. Ironically he was the only participant in the race that had contested over this aptitude twice before and was also placed in the listed event. The Handicappers are satisfied that the new rating is a fair reflection of SAMURAI WARRIOR’S performance and the race level is still 10 MR points below the international threshold for a Grade 1 race.

In analysing what appeared to be a race run at a slow pace, the handicappers were of the opinion that third placed MARCHINGONTOGETHER would not have run worse by finishing third at Grade 1 level than when he won a non-black type Feature at Scottsville in February. Accordingly, it was this performance by MARCHINGONTOGETHER that was used as the line to rate the SA Derby. This equates to MARCHINGONTOGETHER running to a rating of 102 in the Derby, and this is the rating that has been allocated to him. Derby runner-up ZILLZAAL had his rating dropped from 106 to 105, thus making him equal to the winner.

Fourth placed ATYAAB’S rating remains unchanged on the 105 he was made after he won the Cape Derby two starts back. As a recent Grade 1 winner who may not have been entirely suited to the pace at which the SA Derby was run, it is believed that it would be premature to drop his mark for now.

In other changes, SENOR LIZARD was raised from 85 to 88, ARLINGTONS REVENGE goes up from 80 to 84, MASTER MAGIC was raised from 80 to 84, ZANAKI goes up from 78 to 83, and LAST OF THE LEGEND was upped from 78 to 81. These horses finished from 5th place to 9th, and in doing this it is ensured that these five horses would meet one another on the correct weight terms in a handicap race. This satisfies the definition of a handicap. The only other change was OWLINTHETREE, whose rating was cut from 99 to 91. 

• H F Oppenheimer Horse Chestnut Stakes (Grade 1)

SOQRAT remains unchanged on a rating of 124 after his win in the Grade 1 Horse Chestnut Stakes over 1600m. This performance confirms SOQRAT’S status as the best three-year-old colt over 1600m presently in training, but it was felt that he by no means needed to improve on his 124 rating to win this race. It was fourth placed TILBURY FORT who was used the line horse to rate this race.

The strength of the three-year-old crop was greatly underlined in the Horse Chestnut Stakes, with CIRILLO beaten less than one length into second and finishing well ahead of the older horses. This looks to be an outstanding crop of three-year-old males, and in the wake of this performance CIRILLO’S rating has been upped from 111 to 114.

The Handicappers took into consideration that UNAGI is a 5 year old that has not been able to win for almost 2 years and only adjusted him to 106 and not the 110 he achieved. In other changes, CASCAPEDIA was dropped from 110 to 109, LEGAL EAGLE had his rating cut from 120 to 118, AL DANZA drops to 104 from 106, and WILL PAYS is down from 114 to 112.

• Wilgerbosdrift S A Oaks (Grade 2)

RETURN FLIGHT was given a new rating of 106 after she comfortably won the Grade 2 Wilgerbosdrift SA Oaks over 2450m under another extremely well-judged ride from Piere Strydom. This represents a slight increase of one pound on the 105 rating she was given after she won the Grade 1 SA Fillies Classic.

In rating the Oaks, it was runner-up BLOSSOM who was used as the line horse and accordingly her rating remains unchanged on 103. Third placed SEVILLE ORANGE was raised from 91 to 99, while fourth placed BIZE was upped from 79 to 97. These two fillies were rated relative to fifth placed CHITENGO, so that the three would meet one another on the correct terms in a handicap race. In other changes, SECOND REQUEST was dropped from 104 to 99, while PRETTY BORDER goes up from 72 to 80 in order that she is not rated below last placed FARIHA, who remains unchanged on 80.