Referring to more than just horse racing, the word handicap comes from the term hand-in-cap. In the 17th century this was a popular lottery game were players bets were placed in a cap.
These days with reference to horse racing, it’s a bit more involved and there are also races known as Handicaps. A handicap is assigned to a horse dependent on their racing history and relates to the weight that horse carries over a particular distance or race.
For example, one horse may be in a race and carrying the weight of 56 kilograms while another could have been assigned the weight of 52 kilograms. Over a one mile race the weight difference between the two will make the race that much easier on the horse carrying the lesser weight.
The idea of these different handicaps is that a more seasoned horse that is proving to be placing or winning on a regular basis is given a higher weight to carry to make the race that bit more fair.
Due to the racing industry making a lot of money through betting, this also helps with the turnover of funds making people more inclined to back a horse that hasn’t proven itself yet but may be at an advantage with it’s lower weight. The handicap can also depend on the jockey with an apprentice being afforded a lower weight than a more seasoned jockey.
Responsible for determining the weight a horse will carry in each of it’s races, a handicapper must be able to assess a horse’s racing form and have a good understanding of racing. Handicappers are employed through the Principle Racing Authority.
“God held a handful of ash, blew into it saying “Let it be the purest of creatures.” Out of His hand galloped the black horse.”