• World Sports Betting East Cape Derby (Listed)
ST VLADIMIR remains unchanged on 92 after he comfortably won the World Sports Betting East Cape Derby over 2400m at Fairview on Saturday, 11 May 2019. In fact, the Handicappers agreed to use ST VLADIMIR, which was joint top rated, as one of the line horses to rate the race, because in this way 3rd placed JUST CHAOS and 7th placed SAILING LIZARD also run to their marks. As such, these two also remain unchanged.
Second placed DROP KICK was raised from 83 to 88, while fourth finisher SWIFT SURPRISE was raised to 82 from 75 in the belief that his rating should be higher than that of SAILING LIZARD. Similarly, sixth placed JAY’S HAWK was raised from 67 to 70 in order to keep him higher than local rival TOM ‘N JERRY (66) placed ninth, who was also beaten by JAY’S HAWK in the Derby Plate over 2000m on 19 April 2019.
No other changes were made in this race.

• Castle Tankard (Zimbabwe Grade 1)
PEGGSON’s rating was upped from 88 to 93 after he won Zimbabwe’s well established premier handicap, the Castle Tankard over 2000m at Borrowdale Park on Saturday, 11 May 2019. The handicappers were of the view that 3rd placed FAREEQ would not have run worse here than when he finished fourth in a much smaller field in the Independence Trophy at his last start and used him to the actual 81 he achieved there to rate the Castle Tankard.
Runner-up LEVEN POINT came into the race 5 pounds under sufferance and has accordingly been raised from 72 to 80, while FAREEQ was given a small drop from 86 to 84. Fourth placed ARTE was dropped from 78 to 77 on her Zimbabwe debut, while fifth placed HEIR LINE dropped one pound from 92 to 91. SIMONA also dropped slightly from 93 to 92, while MASTER ‘N COMMANDER comes down from 82 to 75. In other drops, BUSH PILOT went from 81 to 78, and SOLINSKI was trimmed from 75 to 74.

Report on Handicappers Roadshow
The 2nd Leg of the Handicappers Roadshow was held at Fairview Racecourse on the 10 May 2019 after the running of the last race. The implications of the Eastern Cape ‘creep’ factor was discussed at length. The ‘creep’ factor is the inevitable rise in the ratings of a local group of horses that regularly race against each other thereby potentially flattering such horse’s ratings in the national pecking order. The Handicappers addressed the above to the satisfaction of those that attended.
The Handicappers would like to thank all who took the time to attend the Roadshows held thus far and that have entered the discourse by raising questions which were addressed by the Handicappers and providing valuable input.
The next roadshow is scheduled to take place on 1 June 2019 at Greyville Racecourse after the last race.

An investigation was opened into two horses being loaded and jumping from the incorrect Starting Stalls in Race 1, at Fairview on 10 May 2019.

During the course of the investigation it was found that the NHA Starters had failed to perform and fulfil their functions and obligations respectively. As this is the second offence of this nature, an internal disciplinary process will take place and the appropriate sanction will be given.

The Rules of the NHA stipulate that it is the obligation of the Rider to ensure that his horse is ridden into the correct starting stall (Rule The Stipendiary Board was of the opinion that the error did not affect the outcome of the race and on that basis, the Jockeys in question Mr G Cheyne and Mr K Steyn will be given the penalty of a warning as this is their first offence of this nature.

The National Horseracing Authority confirms that the following investigations that were opened during the Flamingo Park race meeting on 6 May 2019, have been concluded.

• A physical incident that occurred in the Jockeys’ Room at Flamingo Park prior to the running of Race 5 on 6 May 2019 was investigated and Admission of Guilt fines were signed by:-

- Jockey E Webber admitted that he contravened Rule 72.1.25 in that he misbehaved and conducted himself in an improper manner in the Jockeys’ Room prior to the running of Race 5. Mr Webber was fined an amount of R10 000 of which R5 000 is wholly suspended for one year, on condition that he is not found guilty of contravening Rules relating to his conduct during this period.

- Jockey J Penny admitted that he contravened Rule 72.1.25 in that he misbehaved and conducted himself in an improper manner in the Jockeys’ Room prior to the running of Race 5. Mr Penny was fined an amount of R10 000 of which R5 000 is wholly suspended for one year, on condition that he is not found guilty of contravening Rules relating to his conduct during this period.

• Trainer C J Lensley admitted that he contravened Rule 72.1.45 in that he presented a horse to race when this horse was not ARCTIC PARTY which was carded to race in Race 3. This was detected by the Horse Identifier and the horse was subsequently scratched. Mr Lensley was fined an amount of R10 000.

• The Premier’s Champion Challenge (Grade 1)
HAWWAAM’s rating of 121 remains unchanged in the wake of the three-year-old’s comprehensive defeat of older rivals in the Grade 1 Premier’s Champion Challenge over 2000m at Turffontein on Saturday, 4 May 2019. The Handicappers were unanimous in their belief that runner-up CASCAPEDIA was the correct line horse to use in rating the race and as such her rating also remains untouched on 107. HAWWAAM ran to a 120 using this method to rate the race, but again the Handicappers were united in their belief that he should retain the 121 rating he took into the race, which marked the first time he had ventured outside of his own age group in feature race company.
Third placed DIVINE ODYSSEY continues his rich vein of recent form and the Handicappers had no hesitation in raising his rating from 105 to the achieved 111, whereas in contrast fourth placed LEGAL EAGLE was given a small drop from 118 to 116. Fifth placed DARK MOON RISING went up from 105 to 106, but no changes were made to any of the others in the 13 runner field.

• The Computaform Sprint (Grade 1 )
PACIFIC TRADER’s rating was increased from 112 to 115 after he nabbed the flying filly PRINCESS REBEL in the last stride to win the Grade 1 Computaform Sprint over 1000m. Here, it was felt by all the Handicappers that third placed CHIMICHURI RUN was the appropriate line horse to use, so his rating remains unchanged while PRINCESS REBEL was raised from 107 to her achieved 109.
Fourth placed QUINLAN gives all the indications of being a 1000m “specialist” and was raised from 105 to 111 (which keeps him in line with SEARCH PARTY, who finished 0.30 lengths behind him and who remains on 110), while fifth placed PALACE CHAPEL goes up from 99 to 108.
In other changes, SPEEDPOINT was dropped from 114 to 111, REBEL’S CHAMP goes down from 114 to 112, last year’s winner ATTENBOROUGH was trimmed from 107 to 106, and BULL VALLEY was dropped from 116 to 113 despite finishing lame as per the Veterinary Surgeon’s report. This report notwithstanding, it was felt that some adjustment needed to be made to BULL VALLEY’s rating and he was essentially dropped for the time being to a mark which is one pound lower than that of the race winner.

• Gerald Rosenberg Stakes (Grade 2)
RETURN FLIGHT’s rating was upped from 106 to 109 after Gauteng’s stand-out three-year-old filly of the season led virtually throughout to win the Grade 2 Gerald Rosenberg Stakes for fillies and mares over 2000m. RETURN FLIGHT had won the SA Oaks at her most recent start and it was 2018 Oaks winner SECRET POTION who was used as the line horse, which naturally means that her rating remains unchanged on 102.
Runner-up INSIGNIS was raised from 90 to 102 and would thus meet both RETURN FLIGHT and SECRET POTION on the correct terms if they were to clash in a handicap race. This adjustment also confirms the strength of the Jacaranda Handicap which has subsequently produced the winner of the Grade 1 Empress Club Stakes CAMPHORATUS (105) and interestingly they would now meet on identical handicap term. Fourth placed PRETTY BORDER came into the race rated 80, and while she runs to a 99 the Handicappers took her overall record into consideration and effectively gave her half the achieved adjustment and gave her a rating of 90.
In other changes, FRESNAYE dropped from 108 to 104, GHAALLA was cut from 100 to 97, and JET START was trimmed from 95 to 94.

• Camellia Stakes (Grade 2)
SCHIPPERS had her rating upped from 99 to 107 after she ran out a very easy winner of the Grade 2 Camellia Stakes for fillies and mares over 1160m at Turffontein. Here, it was the Handicappers’ opinion that fifth placed SAN FERMIN was unlikely to have run below her rating of 96 and accordingly she was used as the line horse.
Runner-up MIGHTY HIGH remains unchanged on 107, while third placed GREEN PLAINS was dropped from 107 to 105 in the belief that she deserves to be rated a little lower than the two that beat her here. Fourth placed PRETTY PENNY goes up from 90 to 92, while sixth placed COMANECI had her rating increased from 87 to 89 so that would not be a marked discrepancy between her and PRETTY PENNY if they were to meet in a handicap race.
In other changes, FREDERICO’S DREAM was dropped from 99 to 95, EXQUISITE TOUCH was cut from 99 to 96, COVERED IN SNOW goes from 93 to 90, and DESERT RHYTHM drops to 92 from 94.

• The Gold Bowl (Grade 3)
SUNSHINE SILK seems to have matured into Gauteng’s predominant stayer and has seen her rating upped from 90 to 95 in the wake of her success on handicap terms in the Grade 3 Gold Bowl over 3200m. Here, third placed TIRZAN was used as the line horse, but in view of the 0.50 kg overweight which he carried his rating was increased from 80 to 81, while runner-up DROMEDARIS was upped from 83 to 87.
Fourth placed BONDIBLU came into the race 5kgs under sufferance and was accordingly raised from 69 to her achieved rating of 79 after finishing within a nose of the line horse. The only other changes were drops for STORM WARNING (who goes from 76 to 74) and TOP SHOT, who was trimmed from 85 to a mark of 83. This seems more in keeping with his overall recent form over shorter distances.

• Independent On Saturday Drill Hall Stakes (Grade 2)
UNDERCOVER AGENT’s rating of 120 remains unchanged after he set the pace and dug down deep to win the Independent On Saturday Drill Hall Stakes over 1400m at Greyville on Friday night, 3 May. The Handicappers were of the opinion that the ultra-consistent winner was the right line horse to use in assessing the race and for the time being are content to have UNDERCOVER AGENT rated lower than Grade 1 Sun Met winner RAINBOW BRIDGE which finished strongly to run second and considering that the Sun Met is run over a 2000m the Handicappers are comfortable to leave RAINBOW BRIDGE unchanged on 124 which he earned in the intermediate distance category (1900m – 2100m).
Third placed CIRILLO was also unchanged and remains on 114, but fourth finisher LADY IN BLACK was dropped from 117 to 112. Seventh placed INFAMOUS FOX was raised from 103 to 106 and was effectively given a half adjustment as he does in fact run to 109, but in rating him this way he would at least meet sixth placed ZOUAVES on the correct terms in a handicap race.
The only other change was to SAND AND SEA, whose rating was dropped from 105 to 103.

• KRA Fillies Guineas (Grade 2)
SANTA CLARA’s rating was raised from 103 to 112 after she ran out an easy winner of the KRA Fillies Guineas over 1600m at Greyville. Here, third placed TEMPLE GRAFIN and fifth placed RUNNING BRAVE were used as the joint line horses and as such their ratings remains unchanged.
SANTA CLARA in fact runs to 115 rating the race this way, but she was comfortably held by runner-up FRONT AND CENTRE (rated 112) during the Cape Town season and it was considered appropriate that they be rated as equals for the time being. The Handicappers took into account that FRONT AND CENTRE had the worst of the draw, that she was running on stoutly at the finish, and that she had not raced since late January, whereas SANTA CLARA enjoyed the benefit of having had a recent run at Greyville. Accordingly, it was felt that it would be fair to rate them as equals for now.
NAFAAYES and CELTIC SEA appear to have confirmed their recent Gauteng form and were dropped from 106 each to 104 and 103 respectively, whereas MOON IN JUNE was upped from 77 to 86 and WAITING FOR CHANGE goes up from 78 to 81. In this way, these two would meet on essentially the correct terms in a handicap race, and there was no reason for MOON IN JUNE to emerge from the race rated lower than WAITING FOR CHANGE after beating the latter by 2.70 lengths.

• KRA Guineas (Grade 2)
TWIST OF FATE has seen his rating increased from 115 to 117 after he finished his race off really well to win the Grade 2 KRA Guineas over 1600m at Greyville on Friday. Runner-up NATIONAL PARK appeared to have every possible chance before being run out of it in the closing stages and was considered to be the right choice of line horse, but for the time being the Handicappers opted to keep TWIST OF FATE the equal of the runner-up. In this way, TWIST OF FATE is not rated higher than ONE WORLD, who twice beat him during the Cape Town season. We are happy for the time being to have all three horses rated as equals.
Third placed BUNKER HUNT looks highly progressive and saw his rating upped from 100 to 112, but fourth placed SOQRAT was dropped to 121 from 124 even though he found himself trying to make up a great deal of ground from the back of the field, courtesy of his wide draw. He is clearly much better than this, and the Handicappers are content to have him rated higher than the trio who beat him here.
Fifth placed THANKSGIVING was raised from 97 to 106, while sixth finisher CHIJMES goes up from 97 to 105. These are only partial adjustments, in any event. Similarly, APPROACH CONTROL was upped from 92 to 94 to make him the equal of TRISTFUL, who finished one place behind him. No other changes were made.

• Poinsettia Stakes (Grade 3)
FREEDOM CHARTER’s rating was increased from 99 to 104 after she comfortably won the Grade 3 Poinsettia Stakes for fillies and mares over 1200m at Greyville on Friday. Sixth placed JUNIPER BERRY and seventh placed TOWNSHIP MELODY were both used as line horses and as such both remain unchanged.
Runner-up ELUSIVE HEART goes up from 100 to 102, a mark which she achieved when finishing fifth in a Pinnacle Stakes won by SNOWDANCE at Kenilworth back in December. It was considered unlikely that she would have run worse than that in finishing second in a Grade 3 event.
Third placed SUGAR GIRL was raised from 93 to 98 so that she is at least the equal of fifth finisher ANIME, who finished 0.80 lengths further behind at level weights. In other changes, NEPTUNE’S RAIN was dropped to 105 from 108, INVERROCHE was trimmed from 97 to 94, VISION TO KILL drops from 97 to 95, and ISINGAMOYA is also down to 95 from 97. 

The Handicapping Team


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.