The introduction of Assessment Plates during the week could see a huge change in the landscape of South African handicapping if everyone is prepared to play ball.
The concept is to help handicappers rate horses more accurately by comparing like with like – in a way.
Any horse who wins a Maiden Plate in his or her first five starts will have to compete twice in an Assessment Plate before being allowed to compete in a handicap race on the Highveld.
What makes it interesting is that it is run at set weights and unlike a Novice Plate, there is a 0.5kg allowance for any horse who does not finish in the first four up to a maximum of 3kg.
Race 7 at Turffontein tomorrow when racing will be run on the Inside track is an Assessment Plate and it will assess seven horses who are at very different levels.
A two-time winner is allowed 60kg which means that Noble Secret will carry that weight. Purple Diamond is also a two-time winner but because he finished unplaced last time gets a 0.5kg allowance which sees him carry 59.5kg.
However, apprentice Luke Ferraris is up and he claims 2.5kg so now Sean Tarry’s charge is down to 57kg.
Orpheus is a one-time winner with 57kg and he is coming back from a 294-day rest in which he was gelded. When it comes down as to who will win the race, should the handicappers be anywhere near correct, Noble Secret will take a ton of beating.
He has a merit rating of 106 and is at least 7.5kg better handicapped with the balance of the field.
He has not raced since finishing a 1.75-length third be-hind Hero’s Honour in the Grade 1 SA Derby but prior to that he finished a 1.90-length fourth behind Lobo’s Legend in the Grade 1 SA Classic over 1800m.
His ante-penultimate race was in the Gauteng Guineas over 1600m where he finished fourth to Monks Hood.
He looks in a different league to any other horse in the race and Mike de Kock’s charge, who will no doubt be in need of a run, should still be too good for the op-position and should be a banker in all bets.
The only danger looks to be Purple Diamond who has also been racing in feature events, although not of the same level as Noble Secret.
However, he last raced four weeks back and should be the fitter of the pair.
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