Assessment plates will assist handicapper

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FROM 11 August to the end of November, any horse winning a Maiden Plate in its first five starts will have to run twice in an Assessment Plate before being allowed to compete in a handicap race on the Highveld.

Assessment Plates are being introduced at Turffontein and Vaal racecourses on a trial basis from August through November at the request of a group of Highveld trainers and many other industry players nationally led by Mike de Kock.

“We believe in trying something different. These plate races can only assist the handicappers in making more informed decisions in arriving at merit ratings for horses who win within their first few starts. This way we can have less debate,” said De Kock.

Trainers were requested to attend the meeting at which the Assessment Plate proposal was put forward and discussed. Phumelela representatives, the senior handicapper and De Kock were joined by trainers Sean Tarry, Geoff and Tim Woodruff, Mike and Adam Azzie, Grant Maroun, Joe Soma, Clinton Binda, Ormond Ferraris, Paul and Tony Peter, David Niewenhuizen and Johan Janse van Vuuren. Cape-based Brett Crawford and Durban trainer Tony Rivalland participated via video conference.

Senior handicapper Roger Smith indicated that he was willing to trial Assessment Plates.

Full details of Assessment Plates are as follows:

* For maidens and one and two-time winners. Maidens carry 54kg, one-time winners 57kg and two-time winners 60 kg with a 2.5kg sex allowance. A 0.5kg allowance will be applied for each unplaced start since a horse was placed (first four) up to a maximum of 3kg. Graded and Listed-race starts do not qualify for allowances. The current weight allowance applied in all plate races will apply.

* The winner of a maiden race within five starts must have two compulsory runs in an Assessment Plate before participating in a handicap.

* Any horse taking more than five starts to win a maiden race is not required to run in an Assessment Plate before running in a handicap.

* A maiden with two runs in an Assessment Plate can run in a handicap after a minimum of three starts.

* Any Graded, Listed and non-black type feature race will be counted as an assessment run. In other words a maiden winner who then competes in a Listed feature twice can then run in a handicap.

* Horses may participate in any number of Assessment Plates subject to the race conditions and elimination procedure.

* Handicappers shall adjust merit ratings at their own discretion for horses required to run in Assessment Plates. In the case of horses not required to run in Assessment Plates, penalties are optional at the request of the trainer.

* Elimination details will be published in the programme book.

* Prize money for an Assessment Plate will be R108,000 of which R2,000 is for finishing sixth, R1,500 for seventh and R1,000 for eighth.