Handicap Races

The Rookies Guide to Racing – Handicap Races

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

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