What does ‘out of the handicap’ mean?

In handicap races, the weight carried by each horse is determined by its official handicap rating, as assigned by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA). The race conditions for a ‘Class 6’ handicap on the Flat, for example, might specify that the race is open to horses officially rated 46-65, but horses rated 45 and below are also eligible. In such a race, a horse rated 65 would carry top weight, say, 9st 7lb, a horse rated 64 would carry 9st 6lb, and so on.

At the bottom of the handicap, a horse rated 46 would be required to carry 19lb less than a horse rated 65 or, in this example, 8st 2lb, which would be the minimum weight applicable. Thus, if a horse rated 45 was entered for the race, its rating would merit carrying 8st 1lb, or 1lb lower than the minimum weight applicable. Such a horse can compete, but must carry 1lb more than its ‘true’ handicap mark, and is said to be racing from ‘1lb out of the handicap’.

If a horse is running from out of the handicap, its name will be listed in the ‘Long Handicap’ section of the racecard, along with the weight it would be carrying if allowed to run off its correct mark. Of course, it is not unknown for horses to win from out of the handicap but, win or lose, they are competing on disadvantageous terms, in the eyes of the official handicapper and should be treated with caution.