Horse Racing: Like anyone, handicappers get it wrong, but the majority of Irish handicaps provide evidence of commendable expertise; HORSEMEN PASSING BY.

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

ordinary races.

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

unjustifiable ratings”.

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

Mason Porter

Mason Porter

The author is an experienced Content writer and publisher for Business Development. Visit at to know more about betting on sports and sports betting website
Mason Porter

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