20th September 2016

To follow on from my Kingsley Klarion piece this month on the subject of jockeys’ weights (see Klarion, Straight Talking, September 2016), it is worth taking a look at a few of the weights on Thursday this week. With the dividing of races at Pontefract and Chelmsford resulting in a later finish at one and an earlier start at the other, we found ourselves struggling to find jockeys for our runners at Chelmsford. As I struggled to find a jockey to do 8st 9lbs on one runner, I was drawn to have a look at the top weights in the various races at the Essex track.

The first race, for 2yo fillies, has a top weight of 8st 11lbs – why not 9st, or even 9st 7lbs? The second race, a handicap for 2yo’s has a top weight of 9st 7lbs which makes reasonable sense and fits with the old rules but it does make me wonder why the top weight in the fillies race has to carry 10lbs less. The third race, a handicap for 3yo’s, has a top weight of 9st 7lbs, the same as the 2yo’s – why not 9st 10lbs? The fourth race is a handicap for 3yo’s and upwards and the 4yo top weight again carries 9st 7lbs – why not 10st? The fifth race is again a handicap for 3yo’s and upwards but this time, thanks to a 6lb penalty, the top weight carries 10st 1lb but the next horse carries 9st 12lbs – where did that idea come from? The sixth race is yet another handicap for 3yo’s and upwards but this time the top weight carries 9st 10lbs – yet another variation. The seventh race is the most confusing of all because it is the second division of the sixth race but, this time, the top weight, which is also a 4yo, carries 3lbs less than in the other division. The last race is a maiden for 3yo’s and upwards and this time the 4yo top weight carries 9st 11lbs. It seems they make it up as they go along.

The weights at Newmarket, where the 10yo top weight in one handicap carries 9st 7lbs, and Pontefract are just as ridiculous. The BHA should sort this mess out immediately, if for no other reason than to bring some logic to the issue, and should then consider whether a raising of the minimums is necessary. Probably not.

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