What is the ‘penalty value’ of a horse race?

The ‘penalty value’ of a horse race, as listed on a racecard, describes the prize money awarded to the winner and, possibly, anything up to the next nine horses home, depending on the total prize fund available. However, penalty value does not reflect deductions, such as trainer and jockeys percentages, British Horseracing Authority (BHA) fees and so on, so owners’ prize money is always less than the penalty value of the race in question.

In horse racing, a ‘penalty’ is additional weight, say, 5lb or 7lb, imposed on a horse for winning a race under certain circumstances. Details of such penalties are listed in the race conditions and, in some cases, are imposed on horses that have won a race, or races, above a certain value in a certain timeframe. The winner of a race worth £3,000 might incur a 5lb penalty, the winner of a race worth £5,000 might incur a 7lb penalty and so on; in any case, it is the penalty value of the races, or races, previously won that determines whether or not a penalty is imposed and, if so, what level of penalty. That’s why it’s called ‘penalty value’ in the first place!