Trainers, jockeys not happy

TAYLER STRONG IN DUNEDIN
Last updated 05:00 02/04/2014
Michael Pitman
FAIRFAX NZ
TRAINER: Michael Pitman

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The introduction of a 60kg minimum top weight for other than group handicap races for horses older than three is now set for the end of April, chief handicapper for New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing Brett Scally said.

The 60kg minimum top weight, an increase of one kilogram was due to take effect on March 15.

''It was postponed to go to review,'' Scally said. ''There were a few issues especially with dual banding.''

New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing said the increase had been made after industry consultation and consideration by the handicapping review group to support a more appropriate spread in the weights for the majority of open and ratings-based handicap races.

New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing said the change would significantly reduce the requirement for dual banding i.e. where the handicapper working with a compressed weight scale is required to allocate the same weight to horses on different rating points.

There is opposition to the change from South Island racing industry participants.

''I am totally opposed to the increase. It will just lead to more claims through apprentices,' said Michael Pitman, the leading South Island trainer.

He has been always been willing to give apprentices opportunities in races.

''Some horses are just not up to carrying 60kg and I retired Storm Patrol recently as he is not an open horse. It could finish up a health issue with horses being asked to carry more weight.''

David Walsh, who is closing on a record number of wins for a jockey in New Zealand, said the move was detrimental to racing.

''Some jockeys are just not prepared to manage their weight. Every time the weights go up they just get heavier. Also some horses just can't carry weight,'' he said.

Terry Moseley said the move would lead to a lot more apprentice claims.

''It is not in the interests of senior jockeys,'' he said.

Kylie Williams said the move would drive jockeys out of the game.

The minimum top weight for group races will remain at 59kg.

Universal is a newcomer to the Winton stable of John Phillips. The 4-year-old Lucky Unicorn mare, who has not raced since August, won a 1400m maiden at Rotorua in July when trained by Stephen Autridge.

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- The Southland Times

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