If you’ve ever watched or listened to a Race, you’ll probably have heard the term ‘Handicapping’. You might have wondered what it means in relation to horseracing – Read more about Handicap Races in our Rookies Guide to Racing.


A Handicap is a race where the horses carry different weights. Handicapping in racing requires more skill when betting on the outcome.


After a horse has run a few races, it is assessed, and is awarded a Handicap Mark by the British Horseracing Authority. This effectively translates into a certain amount of weight that the horse needs to carry in addition to the weight of its jockey. The intention is to level the playing field, and a ‘perfect’ handicap would theoretically result in the horses all finishing in a dead heat.


  • Horses can have different handicap marks for different types of racing – all-weather, turf, chase and hurdles
  • Each time a horse wins a race, the handicap mark is reassessed – increasing as the horse’s levels of success increases
  • If a horse repeatedly runs poorly, its handicap mark is reassessed downwards


Allison is the Publisher of Eclipse Magazine. She loves going to the Races and is learning to bet (despite being officially the worst bettor in the History of the Universe), there’s a lot more to learn…

What to read next on Eclipse Magazine