After the weights were unveiled for the £210,000 totesport Ebor, to be run at York on August 18th, the William Haggas trained Harris Tweed was quickly installed as favourite, with prices ranging from 11/1 to 8/1.
The horse was the main ante-post selection of Pricewise in the Racing Post, and after plenty of interest the colt is now a best priced 8/1, but as short as 6/1 with Coral and StanJames.
With a weight of 8s 5lb the three year-old appears to be on a very attractive mark but with a maximum field of twenty allowed to take part the chances of the horse making the cut look far from certain.
51 horses are currently ahead of Harris Tweed with a higher weight, but today’s handicapping system regarding racing’s major contests, is far from ideal.
With only twenty horses allowed to compete in the Ebor it makes sense that the best twenty should make the final line-up, ensuring the race is both competitive and of the highest possible quality.
At present the weight-for-age scale is taken into account when determining the final make-up of a race, instead of going solely on official ratings.
Harris Tweed has a rating of 103 at present but many Ebor entries with a higher weight are rated much lower than the improving Hernando colt, and therefore more likely to obtain a run.
The best heritage handicaps are so competitive at the moment that it is theoretically possible for the Ebor bottom weight to be in the region of 9s, with anything below that bumper weight failing to make the cut.
There is no doubt that the quality of runners in the seasons’ top handicaps has improved so much in recent years that it now makes sense that the top RATED horses should be allowed to compete, as opposed to the top WEIGHTED horses.
For a horses like Harris Tweed, who would not be out of place in the St Leger field, to be eliminated from the totesport Ebor field because of the weight-for-age scale, makes little sense and does racing no favours.