Handicapper Smith responds to Fell blast following Guardia's 23lb hike
BHA handicapper Graeme Smith has explained the reasoning behind raising the Roger Fell-trained Guardia Svizzera 23lb after a hat-trick, a decision that left the trainer fuming.
Fell described the cumulative rise as "an absolute joke" on Thursday, but the logic behind hiking Guardia Svizzera to a mark of 82 from 59 was on Friday outlined by Smith.
In a statement, he said: "Formerly trained in Ireland, Guardia Svizzera started out for Roger Fell in May off a mark of 72. That had dropped to 59 by the time he won by four and a half lengths at Hamilton in August.
"That winning margin was always going to incur a hefty rise and, with the runner-up having won since, the run currently looks to be worth a figure in the high 70s on its own.
"Further to the value of that form, two subsequent wins off marks of 66 and 72 underline the fact Guardia Svizzera is currently ahead of those figures.
"His latest Hamilton success off 72 came from Rockley Point who was actually 2lb well-in at the time. Guardia Svizzera beat him by an easy length and a half with the pair a further length and quarter clear of the third. The bare maths alone has Guardia Svizzera running 7lb above his mark at 79, and we felt he had more in reserve and rated him as value for an extra length and therefore 82.
"Incidentally, Guardia Svizzera’s peak mark when trained in Ireland was 82."
Fell also felt the raise was unjust as Guardia Svizzera's winning efforts had only banked a little over £11,000, but Smith added: "BHA handicapping decisions are based entirely on the value of form rather than prize-money won. All horses are handicapped to make their next race as competitive as possible, which is in the interests of horsemen, spectators and punters alike."
Trainers and connections often take issue with the handicapper, but Smith invited them to air any grievances directly to him and his colleagues.
He said: "The handicapping team encourages any trainer unhappy with a decision to contact the handicapper responsible to discuss how that decision has been arrived at. If the trainer continues to have concerns they are encouraged to utilise the independent appeals process."
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