Rating and programming revision underway

A meeting between leading industry figures and the new board of Racing NSW has set the scene for a revision of race programming and handicapping in the state.

Proposals for the changes will be sent to participants and posted on the Racing NSW website this week with responses expected within seven days.

“We propose to send the paper to all participants inviting submissions on the proposed changes,” Racing NSW chairman Alan Brown said.

“There is an urgency to this so we are expecting a response within seven days from those who want to make submissions.

“We then propose to start implementing those changes as early as next month but will not flow through to changes in the programming of course until after Easter.

“The aim is improving competitiveness and changing the way horses are programmed and it will mean major changes to the way horses are handicapped in NSW.”

Leading trainers Gai Waterhouse, Peter Snowden, Anthony Cummings, Guy Walter and Chris Waller were among those who attended the meeting on Monday along with administrators Richard Freedman and John Nicholson.

Bookmaker Rob Waterhouse, form analyst Dominic Beirne and retired High Court judge and well-known punter Michael McHugh also put forward a joint proposal for reform.

“There was a detailed submission by Richard Freedman on behalf of the metropolitan clubs as to what they saw as the problems,” Brown said.

“It was a positive meeting and we wanted to obtain everyone’s views about their concerns.

“Essentially it’s about better opportunities for owners and horses and improving the betting environment.”

The ratings-based handicapping system has come under fire from trainers for more than a year with most of the concerns from those outside the metropolitan area.

Brown said it was generally accepted horses were receiving too much weight in city-class races for winning in the country.

By Caryl Williamson