What Is Handicapping in Horse Racing? A Comprehensive Guide

Horse racing is probably a discipline that served as a foundation for sports betting. Even though this discipline might not seem as popular as it was a couple of decades ago, it still holds prominence in this industry. In certain countries, like the United Kingdom, United States, Australia, and Canada, it’s still ranked among the most popular sports betting disciplines.

There are countless research that confirm this statement. As is the case with every sports betting discipline, horse racing comes with a string of elements that make it unique. If you are interested in betting on horse races, you can start with Betaway. But before you can do that, it is important to understand all the most significant aspects.

Today, we want to provide you with everything relevant you should know regarding handicapping in horse racing. Without further ado, let us begin with this subject.

Handicapping System

Maybe you didn’t know, but most horse races that run every year are, in fact, handicaps. On average, we are talking about 60% races per year. The reason why this is the case is rather simple to understand. Sports bettors are always interested in finding a way to benefit from taking advantage of loopholes. The handicap system was introduced for the sole reason to prevent this from happening.

While the system cannot be 100% efficient, studies show that most races are covered with it. By doing so, bookies are providing an equal chance for every bettor. When the handicap mark is reduced, that particular horse has an unfair advantage. One of the ways this is achieved is by running a horse over unfavorable distances. Bookies make handicaps to prevent this unfair lead.

The handicapping system works in a specific way, by calculating horses’ weight and ability into the odds. Naturally, some other factors require bookies’ attention, like the race history of a particular horse. After all these factors are taken into consideration, bookies can ensure that every bettor will have an equal chance to score a win. Of course, prize money will differ based on odds.

To keep the data updated, bookies conduct this sort of calculation every week. To make things equal, some horses may be given a penalty for a variety of reasons. Making this calculation is not an easy job since there are so many factors that require attention. Still, the complexity of this system will ensure what every bettor wants, quality with others.

Handicap Mark Changes

As we’ve stated, a handicap mark is something that changes often. The latest performances play a vital role in these changes. Local institutions, like the British Horseracing Authority, play a significant role by providing updated records every week. These changes are often addressed as “handicap good thing” or “handicap snip.” These two terms are something bettors should be familiar with.

Sometimes, bookies may change the handicap in situations when the horse wasn’t in a race in the previous week. As you can see, this is not a simple formula since it includes so many parameters. That’s why bettors need to recognize reliable bookies and only visit their websites. Horse racing has become quite a lucrative industry over the decades. With that in mind, there is always room for scams.

When you know how to recognize reliable and reputable platforms, encountering these issues will become rare. A good illustration of this is that a younger horse will be on an upward curve. Its rating will increase over time. At the same time, older participants in a race will see their rating decline. Younger ones are often addressed as “ahead of the handicapper.”


We’ve mentioned penalties previously. A penalty means adding some extra weight to the horse. Why does this happen? Well, if the horse that was assigned to a particular race, but then participates and wins in a race in between, it is awarded with this sort of penalty. The reason why this is added is rather simple, it has participated in a race before the one when it was planned, and it won.

There are several ways the extra weight is distributed. However, there are three main factors that are the most widespread. We are talking about the saddle, jockey, and weight-cloth. For instance, the jockey will be weighed before the race to make sure that this penalty is according to what was agreed upon before.

Racing in Similar Categories

Racing in Similar Categories

Among the major benefits of handicap races is that it allows horses who are in a similar category to compete against each other. These categories, or classes, are created with these factors in mind.

The trainer is the person who decides about the handicap race where his horse will enter. If the trainer decides to enter the category where his horse will have the highest rating, it will be required to carry some more weight.

How to Find a Reliable Betting Site?

How to Find a Reliable Betting Site?

Finding a reliable betting site plays a vital role in the handicapping system. We’ve already explained why this is of the utmost importance. The first thing you should look for is finding a site that has a user-friendly interface.

While a solid interface is no guarantee on its own, it can be an indicator of one. Think about it, the most reliable sites in the industry provide their visitors with an interface of the highest quality.

The second indicator is a site that provides a diverse choice of marketplaces. If you have a chance to get a look at multiple marketplaces, then the possibility of finding something that fits your criteria, or getting a better deal becomes higher. The final aspect is looking for a gambling site that offers promotions and bonuses. As you will agree, this is one of the most important indicators of a site’s reliability.

The Bottom Line

The handicap system holds a special place in horse racing for a variety of reasons. Naturally, the most important one is providing everyone with equal chances of winning. Here, you can find all the most important aspects you, as a bettor, should be informed about regarding this concept.