Changes made to NSW Benchmark system

Changes made to NSW Benchmark systemRacing NSW has announced changes to the Benchmark programming and handicapping model but the NSW Trainers Association says it will still campaign to improve the country racing system.

The Benchmark programming and handicapping system was introduced just over two years ago and some changes were made last year.

Another review this year has led to more changes to take effect from the start of 2012.

The changes for metropolitan racing are aimed at providing more opportunities for two-year-old and three-year-old horses, including an increased weight allowance for three-year-olds to encourage participation in open-age Saturday handicap races.

There will be a lower minimum of 53kg for three-year-olds in non-black type races when older horses have the new 54kg minimum.

Other changes include more set weights and penalties races before January 1 for two-year-olds, and more distance races for two-year-olds following the autumn carnival.

At the provincials the changes include an increase in the number of Benchmark 70 and 75 races.

There have also been amendments to the country racing system but a request from country trainers to get rid of the Benchmark system and return to full class races from Class One to Class Six was not supported.

Country racing will continue with the hybrid system of Class One, Two and Three races and Benchmark racing.

Each of the new initiatives will be monitored.

NSW Trainers Association chief executive Steve McMahon released a statement saying the NSWTA had had a win with the metropolitan and provincial racing but still wanted improvements to the country system.

“It is pleasing to note that thanks to the hard work of the trainers and the NSW Trainers Association working with Racing NSW we have been able to secure some important improvements to the Benchmarking system,” McMahon said.

“However whilst the NSWTA have had a win for the metropolitan and provincial racing, Racing NSW are yet to accept our position on country racing where in our opinion the Benchmark system isn’t working.”