The West

Rating system face overhaul
RWWA chief Richard Burt.

The WA racing industry's war against the ratings system and programming could come to an end next month when Racing and Wagering WA chief handicapper David Hunter proposes major changes.

RWWA chief executive Richard Burt is confident the changes will help ease the frustrations of trainers, owners and breeders over small field sizes and the ratings system.

Hunter will reveal his recommendations at the next Thoroughbred Racing Consultative Group meeting on February 5.

The meeting includes representatives from owners, breeders, trainers, jockeys, bookmakers, provincial and country racing associations and Perth Racing.

Burt said the changes would be rolled out quickly if they were supported by the industry.

Small fields have plagued prime metropolitan meetings since the end of the summer carnival.

Today's Ascot meeting features two races with just six runners, three with seven runners and one with eight.

Some races have been deleted this month because of insufficient nominations, reducing the number of races to just seven at each of the last three Saturday meetings.

"The issue is complex," Burt said. "The horse population is low in WA for higher-rated horses. The majority are on the lower end of the scale.

"When it comes to programming, it's tricky, but there are things we want to change to maximise field sizes.

"Fields under 10, 11 and even 12 are undesirable. To put it into perspective, over the last four months the average number of runners in a race at prime metro meetings has been 10.5.

"We had 9.8 in October, 10.8 in November, 11 in December and 10.5 so far in January.

"These figures are a clear indication that we need to do more.

"There are more horses at the bottom end of the scale but we can't just, say, have a provincial race at a prime metro meeting. We still have to provide a mix of races, including races for fillies and mares and two and three-year-olds.

"I believe what David has come up with is good and should be welcomed by the industry.

"If the recommendations are supported, we'll look to roll out the changes immediately."

Burt said turnover was steady despite the small fields at recent prime metropolitan meetings.

The West Australian

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