A more “proactive” approach will be taken by the BHA when handicapping horses in the wake of the heavy Prestbury Cup defeat to Ireland at the Cheltenham Festival, Dominic Gardiner-Hill confirmed.
Britain’s counterparts across the Irish Sea won seven of the nine handicap events at National Hunt’s biggest meeting back in March, which was subsequently followed by five tri-colour flag-bearers leading home the finishers at the Grand National.
Gardiner-Hill argued that while there were “not a lot of alarm bells”, subtle changes will now be made.
He told the Racing Post: “If you go back to the three previous festivals, there were ten handicaps and on each occasion, they were split five apiece.
“We were aware of the analysis that showed Irish-trained handicappers were doing slightly better overall, but you would imagine horses sent across from Ireland would be fit, healthy and in form and that they would fare a little better as a result.”
Older horses will be given bigger drops in the ratings when beaten, while novices entering handicap company will be given lower ratings in order to keep their chances in the sphere more competitive.
“It’s a case of lessons learned; we’ve got to make use of the data that we know our analysts can now produce. I’ve got so much more confidence now in the analysis we are using.
“I will hold my hands up. Perhaps we should have done this sort of in-depth analysis earlier. But we’re doing something about it now, we’re being proactive and we will get it done by January 1.”
The head of handicapping did, however, reiterate that the organisation would not be held accountable should a similar position arise in six months’ time.
“It could be that we’re sitting here on March 20 next year and the Irish have won seven of the nine handicaps again.
“If that happens, we may well have another look. But even if they do, I don’t want anyone to be able to say to us: you lazy buggers, you got battered last year, you swept it under the carpet and did nothing.”