The son of Grand Lodge qualified for a mark of
83 last season after one bad run and two seconds in maidens at Listowel,
and made his handicap debut on the final day of the season at
Leopardstown, finishing a creditable third in a premier nursery.
Weld then sent Vision Of Grandeur for a conditions race at
Like any punter, I take a view on horses who may be well
handicapped or otherwise. Opinion such as this is the very essence of
racing, and I trust that Kelly exploited his superior knowledge of the
form book by having his maximum bet on Boule Masquee, a 12-1 chance who
won what seemed to me a fairly typically competitive 47-70 handicap by
three-quarters of a length.
Dermot Weld has shown recently that there is a radically different
way to preserve a decent handicap mark, namely to win a couple of
All of us professionally involved in racing make errors of
judgement on a regular basis, whether jockeys in the heat of a race,
trainers in the selection of targets or in the precise conditioning of
their charges, journalists with our analysis and tips.
In the case of which Kelly explicitly complains, one, of course, of
“the dozens” of examples that he could have cited, my
calculation is that the first nine horses home in the race won by Boule
Masquee were covered by around five lengths. I am completely satisfied that the Turf Club’s Flat
handicappers apply a rigorous, professional, and scrupulously honest
approach to their endeavours.
Weld saddled the three-year-old Vision Of Grandeur to win a
Roscommon handicap on Sunday by six lengths, eased down by the polished
apprentice Shane Gorey. He proved them right, coasting
to a 20-length win from Mull On The Run, with Patrickswell another four
and a half lengths away in third.
Wait a while, just to make sure that it has slipped from the mind
of any clever-clogs who might have spotted it, then bang, go to war.
Byline: Alan Sweetman
Raised 1lb to 84, he made a winning reappearance in a maiden at
Ballinrobe at the beginning of May.
However, I have to take strenuous issue with his statement that
“Flat handicapping in Ireland is now so bad that I feel strongly,
before any rating is issued by the current Flat handicapping team, that
the Turf Club should have an independent panel approve the mark before
it is released”.
Elsewhere on this page I posit a recent example, but as someone who
is involved in a daily battle of wits in trying to establish where the
handicapper may have erred, I reckon that the majority of Irish
handicaps provide evidence of a complex web of form knitted together
with commendable expertise.
Like anyone else, handicappers can, and do, get it wrong.
Now, if Mr Kelly has such great insight, he should really have
pointed to Vision Of Grandeur in advance of Sunday’s race, rather
than telling us how clever he is after an event.
However, it looked fair enough at the time that Vision Of Grandeur
got away with a rise of just 2lb, bringing him to 86.
The second is still a maiden after two starts, but the form of the
race has been well advertised by the third Temlett and Consulate, both
of whom have won twice in the interim.
The present incumbents have done nothing to diminish that
reputation, and the idea that some so-called ‘independent
panel’ is required to adjudicate on their assessments is insulting
and ludicrous. These two individuals earned enormous respect in international
racing circles, and their reputation for fairness and integrity in
handicapping matters played a significant part in enhancing the
reputation of Irish racing abroad.
For some reason, quite possibly due to the unfashionable nature of
the venue, the handicapper did not take the result at face value, giving
Vision Of Grandeur a mere 2lb extra, bringing him to 88, the mark that
provided Sunday’s winning opportunity.
Vision Of Grandeur (near side) is just pipped at Listowel last
Kelly is perfectly entitled to his opinion concerning the
handicapping of any individual horse. THE conventional
wisdom among those who enjoy the conspiracy theory side of racing is
that you have to cheat to get a favourable handicap mark. Written by a James Kelly, from Kilcullen in County
Kildare, the letter focused on the handicap mark allocated to recent
Naas winner Boule Masquee, although Kelly helpfully added that this
“rating is just one of dozens of examples of apparently
Here, he was opposed by rivals such as the 81-rated Mull On The Run
and the 80-rated Patrickswell on level terms. On another handicap on the same
card, the first eight were covered by less than three lengths.
. Three runs
down the field, preferably on unfavourable ground and over an unsuitable
LAST Saturday’s edition of the The Irish Field published a
letter that implied serious criticisms of the Turf Club’s Flat
handicappers. In some cases, a high degree of
‘cleverness’ is determinedly channeled towards concealing the
precise merits of a horse from those whose job it is to assign weights.
More typically, the natural rate of improvement in horses is
legitimately exploited by highly skilled trainers in order to place a
horse to maximum effect.
This is an outrageous slur on the integrity of the individuals
concerned, who carry on an exemplary tradition of professionalism,
developed at the Turf Club in the modern era under the supervision of
the late Captain Michael Byrne, and maintained and advanced by Ciaran
Kennelly. I am not sure of his current
employment status, but if he is as good as he suggests at spotting the
mistakes of the official assessors, then he should seriously consider a
career as a full-time gambler.
I’m certainly not convinced that there are ‘independent
experts’ out there who could do a better job. As anyone remotely
connected with Irish racing can tell you, there are some very astute
individuals involved in the game.
It is, admittedly, a highly problematic area. That, in my view, is pretty
good handicapping by any standards. His superiority did not
look overwhelming on paper, but bookmakers and punters took a different
view, sending him off the 2-5 favourite
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