The impact of 'weight' on any horse is invariably a key talking point every raceday. When it's said that a horse is 'well-weighted' for a race it means that it's considered the horse is favourably handicapped compared with the weights given to its rivals.

But an additional factor also should be taken into consideration. Can the horse CARRY its allotted weight to victory?

Some horses show a performance record in which they can often win with big weights. Others will win up to a certain weight range - then lose carrying weight beyond that level. In other words, every horse can handle weight up to a certain limit over a certain distance.

If we take a broad outlook, we can say that, generally, a better class horse is more easily able to shoulder big weights than lower-quality gallopers. But, like anything else, this ability will depend on the horse's current racing condition, the distance of the race and the condition of the track (good, slow, heavy).

A horse may be able to lug 60 kg over 1200m on a firm track but over 1400m it might be able to carry only 57 kg and win. If the track is rain affected then the horse's weight carrying ability is even more negatively affected.

Keen form analysts look closely at each horse's weight-carrying ability. I know that when I use Steve McAllister's Ultraform computer service, I always make use of the section in which the computer tells how a horse has performed in its current weight range in previous races.

At the press of a key each run in the weight range is highlighted, so you instantly know if a horse has a good or indifferent record carrying the weight it has in the current race. Punters without such a computer service may find it a far more laborious task to sift through previous form lines - but I can assure you it's worth the effort.

Go through the formguide and see what weights the runners carried in similar races under similar conditions. You'll quickly gauge the horse's effectiveness at certain weights.

Sometimes you see races in which a horse has form which seems to shout that he is the likely winner. But then, when you investigate further, you hear warning bells sounding in regard to his previous form.

He may have been given 58 kg in the current race - and when you look at his record you see that three times before he has failed carrying, say, 56.5,57.0 and 59 kg.

These statistics should be enough to at least issue a warning to you that the horse is not such a good thing as it might at first seem, mainly because of the weight factor, which has definitely come up as a negative.

If you see a horse which is at the peak of its condition win a race carrying, say, 56 kg, don't necessarily expect it to win again at its next outing. In a similarly strong field over the same distance and carrying MORE weight because of its latest win, the galloper really will face a stiff task to grab another success.

In racehorse handicapping, weight is what it's all about. The INTACT of weight, that is. When a horse wins, carrying a hefty weight, and then receives a penalty (say 2 kg to 3 kg) it could be faced with a task that exceeds its weight-carrying ability.

Trainers to some extent try to balance this aspect of form by claiming weight through the use of apprentice riders. But the reason apprentices are able to claim weight off a horse's back (1.5 to 3 kg) is because they are inexperienced.

Therefore, in many instances, the weight claimed is more than offset by the rider's lack of experience and ability. So care has to be exercised when taking into account the impact of an apprentice jockey's claim.

Weight, then, is a must' factor to be considered when you are doing the form. But always check up on its impact in races similar to the current one.

If you end your form analysis with, say, three major chances isolated, you should again consider weight. Do the three horses have races in common from the past, where you can check up on their abilities when pitted against each other?

Often, you find that one horse has got into the current race with a big advantage over another horse, based on the last time they met. Using this factor, you can often winningly separate final contenders.

What we are looking for in all this is to find a horse's limit of 'pure pace' based on how much weight it can carry and WIN. Each horse, we must realise, reaches its limits of ability, just as humans do.

Take the Stawell Gift for example. This professional foot-running race is done on a handicap basis. No matter how good the runner, the handicap will eventually beat him. And so it is with weight in horse-racing.

As weight increases, a horse's ability must start to decrease - and thus his chance against his rivals lessens while theirs increases.

Weight is all-important. It has to measured and graded by the form analyst. The analyst who ignores it does so at his peril.

By Des Green