South Island-trained horses are being crucified by the present handicapping system in thoroughbred racing and no more evident than the situation of Invercargill owned and trained Sucre in the Thorndon Mile at Trentham on January 25.
The handicapping system is based on points and no allowance is made for horses racing in different parts of New Zealand against different levels of opposition and stakes. Mares receive a two kilogram allowance.
Sucre, trained at Ascot Park by part-owner Sean Bellew, has won seven of her 23 starts and $85,690 in stakes. The 5-year-old mare has won open sprints at Wingatui (two) and Winton and ran second to The Diamond One in a listed 1200m at her last start at Wingatui on Boxing Day.
She is rated at 99 points, fifth in order for the Group I $200,000 Thorndon Mile over 1600m, a distance over which she succeeded as a maiden.
She is rated a mere four points behind Survived, the top rated horse in the Thorndon. His seven wins include the Group I Challenge Stakes (1400m) at Hastings in August; the Group III Tauranga Stakes (1600m) in November and $337,000 in stakes.
Jetset Lad, rated 98, has won seven races and $167,475. He has finished third in the Group I Captain Cook Stakes (1600m) at Trentham and Coupland's Mile at Riccarton.
The points determining the position of Sucre in the handicap for the Thorndon bear no relevance.
''She might be worth 99 points in Otago and Southland but not when she is entered for a Group I race at Trentham. My horse is slaughtered by the handicapping system,'' he said.
''The situation is dictating that I can't travel to the North Island.''
He said he would wait and see the actual weight allotted Sucre in the Thorndon when handicaps are announced today. He has the alternative of a listed $50,000 Timaru Stakes (1400m) at Ashburton the same day. The Timaru Stakes is usually at Riccarton which has been ruled out for racing at least until March due to work on the second part of a drainage project.
- The Southland Times