Monday, 30 April 2012
: Racing Victoria's handicapping department commences a three month trial of benchmark races on selected country races from May 1.
Benchmark races will replace the existing ratings-based races for 0-72, 0-78 and 0-89 country races only during the trial period.
Benchmark races, which are used in a number of international jurisdictions, were introduced into Australian racing in 2009 and are now run in all states except Victoria.
Unlike a ratings race, the benchmark race has no upper limit on eligibility with weight assigned based on a horse's individual handicap rating in relation to the race rating.
For example Black Caviar, who boasts a rating of 130, would now be permitted to contest a mares benchmark 78 race, but she would be assigned 86kg. In a 0-78 ratings race only horses with a rating of 78 or less can compete.
"The call for benchmark races to be added to the suite of races programmed in Victoria has been strong from industry participants and we anticipate they will be well supported," said RV General Manager – Racing Greg Carpenter.
"We have targeted horses rated 73 and higher outside the metropolitan area, where we believe the races will provide much needed additional program options for difficult to place horses.
"They replace 0-72, 0-78 and 0-89 races which have generally struggled to get satisfactory field sizes and should lead to bigger starter numbers and stronger wagering outcomes on these races."
Race 8 at Warrnambool on Wednesday May 2 is the first race in which trainers have taken up the benchmark option with 75 and 74 rated horses contesting the benchmark 72 event.
The benchmark race trial will be conducted until the end of the current racing season on July 31 at which time a decision will be made on its use in future programming.
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