Following extensive consultation with stakeholder groups, Racing and Wagering Western Australia will implement a revised race programming strategy for thoroughbred racing from 30 January 2016. The changes approved by the RWWA Board on Monday will see the reintroduction of restricted class races as the predominant race types at metropolitan and inner provincial venues.

RWWA Manager Thoroughbred Racing David Hunter said “the return to a graduation style system where eligibility is based on career wins rather than handicap rating is intended to address the issue of small field sizes at metropolitan prime meetings.”

“Ratings based programming in jurisdictions overseas operates most effectively where Handicappers have the latitude to apply merit based handicapping principles, while handicapping in much of Australia is now interpreted to be a points system with stakeholder expectations of fixed penalties. This has resulted in less horses progressing through the system than dropping back which puts pressure on field sizes in the higher grades.” Hunter said.

Metropolitan prime meetings will see the introduction of ‘graduation’ handicaps – restricted to horses having won no more than one metropolitan prime race. This race type will provide an opportunity for horses to transition from provincial to metropolitan Saturday grade without encountering multiple metropolitan winners falling back through the system. Benchmark type races will be maintained above the graduation handicaps to maintain flexibility for Trainers in placing multiple metropolitan winners.

Race programmes at provincial and midweek metropolitan meetings will be dominated by the familiar maiden, class one, class three and class five race types. The programming of special conditions races restricted to horses having not won a metropolitan prime race in the last year will be programmed to provide an opportunity for open class horses at this level.

The above changes will be introduced at metropolitan and inner provincial venues from 30 January 2016. The thoroughbred racing department will work with outer provincial and country clubs to implement the most effective race programming strategy in each region as their seasons commence after this date.

Revised race programmes will be published in the December edition of Racing Ahead.

Further information is available at

David Hunter
Manager Thoroughbred Racing