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Offline timw

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O.P. « 2020-Jul-29, 03:40 PM »
Admiral Rous and the Weight-For-Age Scale

In the light of a recent suggestion by a good friend of racehorsetalk that Admiral Rouse (sic) would abolish the sex allowance under the weight-for-age scale if he were alive today I thought I would invite other good friends to provide information they have on the origins and changes to the weight-for-age scale.

To kick off the discussion I thought I would set out that which I have discovered so far.   

(Henry John Rous 1791-1877)

Elected to the Jockey Club in 1838.  Published the Laws and Practice of Horse-Racing in 1850 (probably 1852 see below).  Became Public Handicapper in 1855.  Entered the period of ‘perpetual presidency’ of the Jockey Club in 1865 which he held until his death 1877.  “Rous possessed peerless skill as a handicapper, and it was this particular skill that enabled him to devise a scale of weight-for-age, revised twice in the light of his own experience, which has stood the test of time, with only minor modifications, down to the present.”  (Biographical Encyclopaedia of British Flat Racing, 1978, at [311] and [523.])

Andrew Lemon wrote that Admiral Rous had been a member of the Jockey Club in 1821 was based in Sydney from 1827 to 1829 and was elected a Steward of the Jockey Club in 1838 He is chiefly remembered today as the originator of the weight-for-age scale however it would be more accurate to credit him with the refining of the scale because the principle had long been accepted of weighting horse according to their age.  Rous’s scale distinguished between the different length of races and allowed for a gradual increase in the weights as the racing season progressed.  (The History of Australian Thoroughbred Racing Vol 1 at pages 67 and 158-9.)

I cannot find an electronic copy of his 1850 /1852 book but I have found an electronic copy of the 1866 edition titled “Horse Racing”by Hon Admiral Rous which can be viewed at  The preface refers to the Laws and Customs of Racing published in 1852, note not 1850, as others have claimed (see also page 26).   At page 17 of the 1866 edition the Admiral notes that the laws of racing were revised in 1857 and he ‘is at a loss to discover any point of which a dispute can be seriously raised or where a difference of opinion can exist in their interpretation’, that is the Admiral’s word is law. 

The rules of racing as they came into effect on 19th April 1858 are reprinted in Horse Racing by Hon Admiral Rous, 1866, at pp124-148.  The rules make no reference to a weight-for-age scale.   The standard weight-for-age scale is published after page 164.  It does not contain any allowance for sex. 
When the Derby was first run in 1780 over 1 mile (1.5 miles from 1784) colts carried 8.0 and fillies 7.11 (3lbs less) (Flat Racing since 1900, Ernest Bland ed., 1950, at p120).  It seems the sex allowance existed from the beginning of the Derby.  The standard weights for colts running in the Derby and St Leger were raised to 8.10 by the 1857 changes to the Jockey Club rules (Horse Racing by Hon Admiral Rous, 1866, at p19).

As the conditions of races were published in the English ‘Racing Calendar’ it seems to me information on the sex allowance as it was in 1858 or earlier would be found there.   If anyone has a copy of the Racing Calendar from the early days I would be interested to know what it states.

According to the Australian Rules of Racing as published in the 1914 edition of the Australasian Turf Register rule 72 set out the Standard Weights for Age for flat races and provided that mares to be allowed 5lb from 1 August to 31 December, 3lb from 1 January to 31 March, 2lb from 1 April to 31 July and gelding to be allowed 3lb unless conditions of a race specify otherwise.  A ‘mare’ was not defined Under rule 1 a ‘weight-for-age’ race includes a race for horses of the same age where weights are apportioned according to their sex.  I note that when the Caulfield Guineas was first run in 1880 fillies carried 5 lb less.  It would fit the definition of a ‘weight-for-age race’.  It would follow that mare includes filly. 

The Wikipedia page on Admiral Rous ( cites “Wood, Greg (3 April 2006). "Horse racing: End of an era as Jockey Club falls on own sword". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 November 2013.” as authority for the proposition that he introduced the weight-for-age scale.  I cannot retrieve the article and hope that some can get it for me.

A copy of the 1911 edition of the Encyclopedia Brittanica has an entry on Admiral Rous (volume 23 page 775 (found at ) however there is no reference to the weight for age scale in the Brittanica entry.


Offline sobig

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« 2020-Jul-29, 04:54 PM Reply #1 »
Here we are tim

End of an era as Jockey Club falls on own sword
After over 250 years racing's oldest institution exits stage left to make way for Horseracing Authority
Greg Wood
Published on Mon 3 Apr 2006 10.12 AEST

It is a little over a quarter of a millennium since the Jockey Club was founded in a central London public house by an assortment of aristocrats, landowners and significant men-about-town. A few years later, many of their social equivalents on the other side of the Channel took a one-way tumbril-ride to death by revolution, but in Britain, the Jockey Club endured and prospered. The Empire rose and fell, the American colonies were lost and slavery abolished. Through two World Wars and - God preserve us - several Labour governments, the Jockey Club's word remained law on the British turf.

So take a good look at horseracing this morning, because for the first time since 1752, someone else is making the rules. As of 12.01am on April 3, 2006, the Jockey Club does not tell anyone what to do.

From now on, the sport obeys only the Horseracing Regulatory Authority, under its chairman John Bridgeman - a former director general of the OFT - and Peter Webbon, the HRA's first chief executive.

As a name, the HRA will never drip with history the way that Jockey Club still does. But there can be no doubt a profound change has taken place, and one that, in a rather British way of which the original Jockey Club's founders might well approve, has somehow crept in without anyone really noticing.

The great majority of the 160-odd staff on the payroll of the HRA are the same people who worked for the Jockey Club last Friday evening, and they are doing the same jobs. But their contracts are now with the HRA, which is constituted with three independent members - independent of the Jockey Club, that is - on its five-strong board.

Were it not for an ongoing debate over the transfer of pension entitlements, the Jockey Club insists that the HRA would have launched with an entirely independent board, rather than having two Jockey Club nominees as it does at the moment. But there can be no doubt that the Rules of Racing, everything from security to safety, and licensing to law-making, are now in the hands of the new authority.

It is quite an inheritance for the people in charge, and an immense responsibility. The need for a modern regulator for racing is intimately linked to discussions over the future funding of the sport. In simple terms, if the Government is to be persuaded to perform a considerable U-turn and reprieve the Levy system, racing will need an efficient, credible system of regulation, free from the baggage that the Jockey Club carried with it.

As such, the choice of Webbon as the HRA's first chief executive may well prove to have been an inspired decision. A vet by training, he has been closely involved with racing for a decade as the sport's chief veterinary advisor, but no one could ever cast him as an establishment Yes-man. He is smart, opinionated, and never afraid to speak his mind when he thinks it is necessary. He is also a man who gets things done, a trait that was most apparent in 2001 when, almost single-handedly, he kept Britain racing throughout the foot-and-mouth crisis.

There were plenty of voices within racing ready to close the sport down for the duration of the crisis, at an incalculable cost in terms of jobs and income. Webbon, with a mixture of sound veterinary argument, practical hygiene schemes and simple determination, refused to bow to ignorance and panic.

"When I arrived in racing it was in a veterinary role, but I was increasingly getting involved in other things," Webbon says. "Foot-and-mouth was a particularly challenging time, but it also gave me a taste for being involved on a much broader front.

"It was a fascinating period, and there were a lot of lessons to be learned about proportionate responses, and making responses based on evidence, avoiding emotional reaction, and not necessarily taking the easy line.

"In a sense, closing down racing would have been the easy line to take, but once you have stopped, when do you start again?"

As the HRA's chief executive, Webbon accepts that he will be the lightning rod when the sport hits trouble. "Of course, that comes with the job," he says, "but I would never think of avoiding it, and I intend to be a very visible chief executive, visible and accessible. I'll be going racing a lot, and not just the big meetings. You'll see me at Wolverhampton and Ludlow as often as you do at Ascot and Newbury."

The first test of Webbon's resilience under fire could arrive as soon as this weekend, when the Grand National, the one race that still unites the nation, also has the considerable potential to produce bad news, not least after the death of nine horses at Cheltenham last month.

"Cheltenham had a bad four days in terms of injuries by any measure," Webbon says, "but the previous nine years had been much better. I'd be hoping for a bit more rain at Aintree to slow them down and ease the ground, but all we can do is hope that it goes reasonably quietly.

"The number of different bodies involved in racing is frustrating in one way, because it can make it quite hard to achieve things at times, but at the same time, the relationship between all the different factions is quite fascinating.

"I think what we always need to bear in mind is that racing is extremely simple sport. You take some horses, run them around a field, and see which one gets to the post first. There's a huge industry built up around it, but sometimes we lose sight of just how simple it is."

Club dateline

1752 Jockey Club founded at the Star and Garter pub, Pall Mall.

1768 Sir Charles Bunbury elected senior steward, the first of three great "Dictators of the Turf".

1830 Lord George Bentinck, "the scourge of welshers and fraudsters", is appointed senior steward.

1855 Admiral Rous, the turf's third "Dictator", appointed as official handicapper. He conceives and introduces the weight-for-age scale.

1879 Licences for jockeys introduced.

1903 Doping is banned after an American race-fixer uses cocaine to improve horses' performance.

1920 Number cloths introduced.

1965 Starting stalls introduced.

1966 Court case forces Jockey Club to grant trainer's licences to women.

1977 Women admitted as Jockey Club members for first time.

2006 Club passes responsibility for the regulation of racing to the Horseracing Regulatory Authority.

Offline Peter Mair

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« 2020-Jul-29, 08:44 PM Reply #2 »

Things have changed

Modern equine medical options make the WFA scale a focal point for review.

............. it is a nonsense that 'girls become boys' are not competing on a level playing field on racetracks.

When the only recent 'champions' are mares making the medical gender transition ....the penny should have dropped.

............ an industry living on the legends of Sunline, Black Caviar and Winx may need to rewrite the scripts.

Offline timw

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« 2020-Jul-30, 10:08 AM Reply #3 »
Sobig thanks for a copy of the Guardian article.  The Guardian article looks like one based on a press release issued out of the responsible minister’s office announcing the start date for a new piece of legislation with padding for a story.  So we can imagine how well researched it was.


Offline timw

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« 2020-Jul-31, 12:17 PM Reply #4 »
How might one test the theory that fillies and mares are advantaged under the WFA scale in the modern era.

I am thinking out loud here and seeking comments on the following.

Assumptions / parameters:

Foal crops comprise equal numbers of colts and fillies.
Equal numbers survive to racing age (2YO).
Equal numbers have at least one race start (2YO+).

The years examined are 2000 to 2019 (20 years of results)

The scope is limited to open age group 1 races contested in Europe, North America and Australasia.  Japan, Hong Kong and other countries have too few group 1 races to effect the overall result.  It is too difficult for me to collate a list of Group 2 and lower results.

An open age race includes any race in which a 4YO is allowed to compete and is open to fillies and/or mares.  In many jurisdictions fillies are those from 2YO to 4YO (why isn’t it the same in Australasia as the WFA scale provides an age allowance to 4YOs over some distances for at least part of the year).

Races that are restricted to mares are excluded while races that exclude geldings are included.

Handicaps are excluded although there may be an argument that (some) handicappers include a sex allowance for fillies and mares when framing weights.  In North America handicaps tend to be more like set weight races but are excluded as the conditions of each are cumulatively so complex as to make any analysis meaningless.  I expect there are relatively more grade 1 handicaps in North America than other jurisdictions so that will reduce the number of races to be tested by a significant number.  I expect there are relatively more grade 1 mares races in North America than Europe and Australasia which may effect results if the mares compete less against the horses. 

Open age set weight races are treated as WFA races as they have a sex allowance. 


The benchmark result is that an equal number of each sex win the selected group/grade 1 races.


Offline Peter Mair

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« 2020-Aug-01, 05:50 AM Reply #5 »

Some questions and answers are the same

........... very relevant Qs & As include four names ........... Sunline, Makybe Diva, Black Caviar and Winx.

Not sure where 'timw' is headed with an extensive international research proposal but these four names would seem to be a clue to where to look ............ any investigation should start with approved drugs that apparently turn mares into geldings.

......the WFA scale is of questionable relevance.

Offline timw

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« 2020-Aug-01, 06:29 PM Reply #6 »
Results of statistical analysis undertaken to date

According to the 2000 Millers Guide fillies and mares were allowed 2.5kg through whole year (from 1 Aug 1998) and the 2015/2016 Millers Guide fillies and mares were allowed 2.5kg through whole year (from 1 Jan 2009) under the WFA scale.

If correct this means that for Australian racing purposes for the survey period (calendar years 2000 to 2019 (20 years) fillies and mares were allowed 2.5kg under the WFA scale during the whole of the racing year (1 August to 31 July).

During the period 2000 to 2019 there were 478 group 1 WFA races in Australia with 1 dead heat.  Fillies and mares won 113 of the races or 23.59%. 

If the survey period is confined to 2010 to 2019 (10 years) there were 268 group 1 WFA races in Australia.  Fillies and mares won 79 of the races or 29.48%.  Winx won 19 of these races.  If Winx had not raced and all those races were won by the other sex the fillies and mares % would have fallen to 22.39%.

As that is a larger number of WFA races than I had expected it seems to me the results provide a useful guide to the impact of a 2.5kg sex allowance.

If a 50/50 split is the ideal statistical outcome then one might think that drugs (if any) given to mares have not had sufficient impact on the results and the drugs and/or sex allowance should be increased to provide a better balance in the results.


Offline Peter Mair

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« 2020-Aug-01, 07:54 PM Reply #7 »

We need to know

.......... which ones had their gender transformed ............. the famous 4 look likely ............ 'never beaten', three Cups and 4 Cox Plates. administrators need to re test the stored swabs from these winners.........or at least ask the trainers what approved treatments were they 'on'.