Racing WA - Handicapping & Programming Changes

11 April 2024

At Racing WA, we’re making a focused effort to create more competitive racing, improve racing opportunities and consequentially increase wagering turnover on WA harness racing.

Over the past two months or so, our new dynamic approach to race programming has seen increased field sizes and consistent 10-race programs at Gloucester Park on Friday evenings.

While this has been a fantastic result and led to a spike in wagering revenue, it’s important we continue to innovate to improve and optimise the product and subsequently attract further wagering.

That’s why Racing WA is proposing we embrace the national ratings handicapping system starting from January 1, 2025.

The Dumensy Report has highlighted the shortcomings of our current handicapping system, especially in comparison to the national standards. The national ratings system proved its effectiveness since its inception, and in 2023:

  • Only 6.75% of races featured favourites priced at $1.30 or worse, compared to 17.49% in WA.
  • Similarly, 18.35% of races had favourites priced up to $1.60, as opposed to 35.8% in WA.
  • And 31.8% of races featured favourites priced up to $1.90, while in WA, this figure stood at 53.9%.

Utilising the national ratings system is projected to lead to a significant reduction in short-priced favourites in WA, ultimately driving higher turnover.

It also offers us the opportunity for a complete programming reset as we work towards improving the manner in which we program to the population, to seasonality, to differing levels of ability and to juveniles.

To ensure a smooth transition and to gather valuable insights from all stakeholders, I – with the support of the team at Racing WA – will conduct handicapping and programming consultation sessions.

The dates for these sessions will be announced shortly, however, I encourage your active participation and involvement.

One crucial aspect that we'll address in these discussions is juvenile programming, particularly focusing on developing a comprehensive calendar for our two-year-old horses.

It's imperative we nurture young talent and provide them with the best platform to showcase the top-quality standardbreds we have on offer in WA.

I’d like to emphasise the adoption of the national ratings system will maintain a 'net-neutral' impact -Racing WA is committed to working with Harness Racing Australia and other states to ensure the fair distribution of ratings points.

I look forward to your support and discussing this with you further at the upcoming sessions.

Cameron Brown

Head of Harness Racing and Special Projects

Racing WA


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