Big money on offer for intermediate grade horses

RATTO may not be a term familiar to many in harness racing, but it's a new concept with a big future.

And on Easter Saturday at Addington Raceway (April 16) there will be five RATTO races each worth $30,000, along with the day's feature race, the $100,000 Country Cups championship.

"It's all about rewarding the less-heralded horses," says Harness Racing New Zealand - Racing Manager Catherine McDonald, "these are not the top tier horses but the intermediate horses that are the backbone of our sport."

RATTO stands for "Rated At The Time Of" and to be eligible horses must be four years or older and rated R60 or below as of January 1, 2022. They must also have had three starts between January 1, 2022 and the final qualifying meeting on April 10, 2022.

There will be three pacing and two trotting races, each worth $30,000. The maximum field sizes will be 14 for the pacers and 16 for the trotters.

"When the top 42 nominated qualifying pacers and 32 trotters have been found, the qualifiers will be split via their current ratings to create fair, competitive contests," says McDonald.

"The idea came about through the change to the racing calendar ... there was an overwhelming sense that not enough was being done for those below the best horses, especially when you think that they generate a lot of revenue."

The plan is to roll out the concept around the country in future years.

"The response we have had has shown us that this is going to be very popular with owners, trainers and punters."

The Qualifying points table can be found here

Qualifying Conditions and Eligibility

· For horses aged four-year-old and older rated R60 & below as at 01 January 2022. Horses remain eligible even if their rating ascends above R60 within the qualifying period.

· Horses will accrue points in relation to the starts they have over the qualification period, linked to their performance (Official Placings). In this instance the qualifying period is 1 January 2022 to 10 April 2022, inclusive.

· Each start a horse has within the qualification period is multiplied by the number of wins (x 1), the number of seconds (x 0.5), the number of thirds (x 0.33) and the number of fourths (x 0.25). The four figures are then aggregated to give a RATTO score, which will place the horse in the RATTO rankings.

· To be eligible to contest a RATTO Showcase race, a horse must have had a minimum of three starts within qualification period.

· The top 42 ranked pacers nominated will be selected, the top 32 ranked trotters nominated will be selected then split into fields, based on ratings. In Pacing RATTO Showcase races there will be a maximum of three fields of 14 acceptors. In Trotting RATTO Showcase there will be a maximum of two fields with 16 acceptors, and up to two rating-specific emergencies per race.

· All eligible ‘R’ rated horses (winners) shall be ranked ahead of eligible non-race winners (MR rated, including Non-Tote 2YO winners).

· In the event of a tie for any qualifying position horses will be separated by counting back to the horse with highest rating, if a tie still exists then the horse with the most lifetime wins will be ranked ahead of the horse with fewer lifetime wins.

· There is no distinction between a dead-heat and a standard placing in reference to points allocation.

RATTO SHOWCASE Race Conditions

Nominations for the respective races shall be made with the NZ Metropolitan TC, in the normal manner, per the advertised programme.

Pacers RATTO Showcase – three $30,000 races, with a maximum of 14 starters

Race Conditions: 2600m mobile, Preferential Barrier Draws based on Ratings and Winning Stakes.

Stakes: $30,000 ($16,500, $4,650, $2,850, $1,800, others $525).

· The top 42 ranked nominated horses are determined, then split in fields up to a maximum of three 14-horse races.

· As these races are Preferential Barrier Draws no Emergencies will be permitted.

· Should any Non-Winner make a final field their rating number (e.g. 47) places them within the qualified horses.

Trotters RATTO Showcase – two $30,000 races, with a maximum of 16 starters

Race Conditions: 2600m Special Handicap, Front: R35-R50, 10 metres: R51-R60, 20 metres: R61 & Faster. Stakes: $30,000 ($16,500, $4,650, $2,850, $1,800, others $525).

· The top 32 ranked nominated horses are determined, then split in fields up to a maximum of two 16-horse races

· Up to two Emergencies may be selected. The Emergencies will be the next eligible qualified horses, relative to the respective rating bands of the races that are declared.

· Should any Non-Winner make a final field their rating number (e.g. 47) places them within the qualified horses.

Splitting the RATTO Showcase fields

· Once the fields are selected the splits will be made based on Ratings. Where there are horses on the same rating that require separation, this will be done based on Winning Stakes. If a tie still exists, the horses will be separated based on highest career rating achieved. If a tie remains the horses will be separated by lot.

Other Conditions/Contingencies

· In the event there are fewer than the allowable maximum number of acceptors for either the pacing or trotting RATTO Showcase races, the splits of the respective races will be determined by the host club in consultation with HRNZ.

· If the numbers of acceptors result in there being fewer than 12 acceptors per or for any given the race, the host club, in consultation with HRNZ reserves the right to reduce the number of RATTO Showcase races.

· Any pacer that is within the top 16 qualifiers for the Country Championship at the conclusion of qualifying (10 April 2022), which is run on 16 April 2022 at the same meeting will be ineligible to contest the Rating Showcase races.

· There are no nomination or acceptance fees payable for these races.

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