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Gavin Cromwell (Trainer) Final Orders - Handicapping Appeal

The Handicapping Appeals Body, Mr. Stephen Lanigan O’Keeffe S.C. (Chairman), Mr. Anthony Byrne and Mr. William Flood convened on Tuesday, 19th September 2023 to consider the appeal of Gavin Cromwell (Trainer) in relation to the handicapping of Final Orders following his win in the Reddans of Bettystown Handicap Hurdle at Bellewstown on Wednesday 30th August 2023.

The Handicapping Appeals Body considered the appeal of Mr. Cromwell and submissions from Mr. Andrew Shaw and Mr. Shay Quinn, IHRB National Hunt Handicappers.

In lodging the appeal, Mr. Cromwell stated that raising Final Orders from a rating of 102 to 125 was excessive. In his opinion, the race in question was a very weak contest for the grade and although Final Orders won easily the opposition in this race was poor.

In their submissions, Mr. Shaw and Mr. Quinn explained that it was not surprising that Final Orders had won this contest with ease as he had improved with every run over fences and on the flat since his last run over hurdles. They explained that Final Orders most recent run over hurdles was the corresponding race at Bellewstown last year which he won off a rating of 96, before going on to achieve a rating of 149 over fences. The Handicappers further explained that while it is not policy to change a handicap hurdle mark on the strength of chase form, or vice-versa, until it runs again in that discipline, where a horse wins as easily as Final Orders did, a judgement must be made on all available form. Mr. Shaw and Mr. Quinn noted that Final Orders’ chase rating has risen to a figure that is 47lbs higher than his hurdle rating since his previous run in a hurdle race and were of the opinion that a rating of 125 is a fair re-assessment under the circumstances.

Having considered all submissions, the Handicapping Appeals Body issued the following decision:

“Final Orders won a 80-102 Handicap Hurdle at Bellewstown on the 30th August 2023. He won off a rating of 102. He won easily by 3.25 lengths as the 4/9 favourite and was raised to a rating of 125. The Appellant asserts that it was a very poor race, and the Handicapper does not disagree. A substantial rise in his handicap rating was clearly justified. On the bare facts of the form this might reasonably have been expected to be in the region of half of the actual rise of 23lbs.

For reasons that have been very well-explained by the Handicapper, the rise was always going to be substantially more than this. Final Orders had clearly improved massively over fences and to a lesser (but still substantial) extent on the flat since his previous run over hurdles. All of the evidence suggests that he was physically a much-improved horse, and it was no surprise therefore to see him win this modest race handsomely. The Handicapper has clearly explained the extraneous factors which he took into account in making his new assessment. In the opinion of the Body, the Handicapper was completely correct in principle in the manner in which he approached this handicapping situation, and he did so clearly in a bona-fide exercise of his discretion. However, two factors give the Body cause to disagree to a modest extent. The first is that this horse was well-exposed over hurdles, and the Handicapper accepts that he had been run on his merits. Secondly, it is well-known and accepted that many horses do not translate significant improvement in one discipline to another – in this case fences to hurdles. Accordingly, taking into account what Final Orders actually achieved at Bellewstown and all of the factors correctly enumerated by the Handicapper, the Body finds that the appropriate handicap-mark for Final Orders over hurdles is 122 and the Appeal is therefore allowed to that extent and the appellant’s deposit is refunded in full. The Body would like to express its appreciation to the parties for the clear logical and sensible Submissions made in respect of this Appeal.”

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