A Weighty Issue

By on April 21, 2015

I’ve had quite a few questions over the past few days regarding the importance of weight in horse racing.

A number of punters have been asking why I don’t consider it one of the fundamentals that I discuss in Racing Secrets Exposed.

The weight factor gets spoken about almost as much as distance and going when it comes to evaluating horses.

Every day you’ll see journalists talking a horse up as being “ahead of the handicapper”.

Or stating that another horse will have trouble “defying a penalty”.

But does it really have that much influence or does it just give presenters something to talk about in the race preamble?

I personally believe its importance is exaggerated.


First let’s think about it logically…


Racehorses vary in size but the average weight is usually said to be half a tonne (about 1100 lbs).

The maximum weight a horse can carry is 28lbs.

That’s just 2.5% of its total weight!

That’s like a 13 stone man running with 4.5lbs on his back!

And don’t forget that’s the maximum weight allowed.

Is this really enough to make a difference?

I’m not so sure.


Secondly let’s look at some numbers…


The table below shows the percentage win rates against the weight positions in handicaps.

[table id=12 /]

It’s clear to see there’s a correlation between the position in weights and the outcome of the race.

Quite simply…


The top rated, classier horses, carrying the heavier weights outperform the lower rated horses with very little on their backs.


Surely if weight was such a factor the correlation wouldn’t be so uniform?

I’ve heard punters say…

“Weight is a bigger factor in jump racing due to the fences and the longer distances.”

If this was the case you would expect there to be a change in the percentage win rates against the weight positions in handicaps.

The table below shows the percentage win rates against the weight positions in handicaps in National Hunt racing.

[table id=13 /]

Again there’s a perfect relationship between the strike rate and the position in the weights.

This trend is also seen in non-handicaps.

As an example let’s take a look at National Hunt Flat (NHF) races.

In these starter races over fences if a horse has won a previous race it has to carry a penalty of 7lbs (more if it has won more than one race).

This penalty will often be brought up by journalists (and punters) as an issue.

Will the horse be able to defy the penalty?

The table below shows the percentage win rates against the weight positions in NHF races.

[table id=14 /]

Again there is a clear correlation between the position in the weights and the winning strike rates.

Quite simply a 7lb penalty does not seem to have much affect to a 1100 lb animal of pure muscle.

If a horse is good enough to be given the weight to carry, more often than not it is good enough to carry it well.

Finally let’s look at the win percentage of the top weighted horses in soft and heavy ground.

In the table below I’ve ordered the stats by distance (only including those of over 250 runs or more so as not to skew the numbers)…

[table id=15 /]

You would expect that in soft ground carrying more weight would have a bigger impact the further the race distance.

But as the table above shows there doesn’t seem to be any correlation.


To conclude…


I just don’t believe weight has as much affect as other punters seem to think it does.

Which is why it’s not included in Racing Secrets Exposed as one of the fundamentals.
It just doesn’t make sense logically.
And as I hope I’ve showed in this post it doesn’t make sense when looking at the numbers.

Still not sure?…


If I haven’t convinced you I still have one more trick up my sleeve.

Phil Smith, Head of handicapping at the BHA, agrees with me.

I’ll let him have the final say…


“We are thought to have a decisive influence, but in reality there are far more important factors in a horse’s performance than the weight it carries.

The key things are its health, the ground and the trip.”


I really hope you’ve enjoyed this article.

I’d love to hear from you.

If you have any thought on the impact of weight please share below.

The more discussion we have the better

Take care,
Kris Jackman | Founder TipsterSupermarket.com

P.S. Don’t forget the fundamentals are just a starting point and don’t even scratch the surface of what you need to consider.

The UK’s best known and most successful gambler, Patrick Veitch, once said there are up to 80 variables that affect a race.

I’ll go into detail in the next blog post about some of these other factors to look at when dissecting races.

Until then, please let me know your thoughts on weight below.


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