A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.'

So stated the German physicist and Nobel Prize winner Max Planck, best known for his quantum theory.

Planck's words have the ring of truth to them when the issue of the effect of weight on equine performance is discussed, as it's one of those intangibles that many knowledgeable racing experts often agree to disagree on.

Admiral Rous, all those centuries ago, was the first to think up and set down a weight scale when he brought down the stone tablets from the mountain with the inscription, 'Four to five pounds shall equal one length in sprints, two or three pounds shall equal one length at a mile'.

Since then a whole sub-industry of weight handicapping has evolved, producing the likes of Don Scott and Rem Plante in Australia and numerous others overseas.

In his book Winning Without Thinking - A Guide To Horse Race Betting Systems, Nick Mordin discloses his thoughts on the issue of weight and, like myself, he is no great advocate of weight handicapping.

In the chapter titled Force Equals Mass Over Acceleration, Mordin reveals the results of research he did into the effects of weight, the results of which clearly indicate that it is an overrated factor.

Notwithstanding, he makes four startling and generally unknown disclosures in regard to weight:


  • Horses carrying a greater weight will be slowed down more than what less weight will speed a horse up;
  • Once a horse has dropped down in weight to a certain point, then any further weight reduction will not make it run any faster than what it is capable of doing;
  • Horses of a higher class generally weigh more than those of a lower class; and
  • Weight affects lower-class horses to a greater degree than those of a higher class.

In making known these facts, Mordin has used wide-reaching research from different sources, not only including his own, but just as importantly that of others from a more scientific background.

Research carried out in the US would indicate that once the 'average' horse is weighted below 52kg then additional weight off its back will be of little importance, while once a horse reaches 53.5kg or more, weight will start to slow a horse down.

Meaning, of course, that there is a 1.5kg gap where the weight carrying ability is neutralised.

Unlike other theorist handicappers, Mordin's research disclosed that weight required to slow a horse down by a length is dependent on the distance of the race according to the following scale:

1000m - 1.75kg
1200m - 1.5kg
1400m - 1.25kg
1600m - 1kg
2000m - 0.5kg
2400m - 0.65kg
3200m - 0.5kg

Notwithstanding that additional weight will slow a horse down, Mordin quite correctly states: 'It has always been true that the higher the weight a horse is being set to carry in a handicap race, the more likely it is to win.'

Mordin then poses the question as to why go to all the trouble of compiling your own ratings when there are plenty of services around that will offer you their ratings at a reasonable cost.

In answering this question, he writes: ' . . . if you are serious about making money from horse-race betting (then) the issue is this: how hard are you prepared to work? If you think you can simply pick up the form for today's races, glance through it and select the best bets, you are sorely mistaken. To gain an advantage over the crowd you need to do the homework that they avoid.

'Part of the homework is to form your own opinion of the relative merits of every horse that may contest races you are likely to bet on. It is no good relying on the opinion of others, because their opinion is published and therefore influences the odds. In addition, you cannot know the strength of another person's opinion.'

He goes on to state: 'Every professional gambler I know compiles their own speed or handicap (weight) ratings. Some do both. They all see them as providing a basic starting point for their work, something they absolutely have to produce in order to operate.

'Handicap ratings and speed ratings are a numerical expression of your opinion of each horse. Without them you can't really have an opinion that means much. Certainly you cannot expect to make profits.

'The very act of producing handicap or speed ratings forces you to become expert in the form of the horses you bet.'

To this end, he sets down a quite simple eight-step method for those wanting to do their own weight handicapping which, if nothing else, is a very good educational tool and one that is recommended for anyone wishing to 'do their own thing'.

Winning Without Thinking - A Guide To Horse Race Betting Systems, by Nick Mordin, is available from www.gamblingbooks.co.uk.

Click here to read Part 3.
Click here to read Part 1.

By E.J. Minnis