Update from the Chief Handicapper
Firstly well done to all those that took part in the first meeting of the year last week at Epping.
Ultimately the handicap system rewards those that compete regularly & consistently.
Those that were present would be aware that I discussed the details of the changes to the handicap
guidelines and other related matters. For the benefit of those present I thought it appropriate to include a
summary of that discussion in this report.
The calculation of the starting marks for established athletes has been changed to the average of the best
RPM performance from the last 5 years and the next best from the last 2 years. This has been introduced to
improve relevance, transparency and consistency of application. In the case of veterans, if recent form
indicated that a PB over 2 years old is no longer reflective of current capabilities, a veterans allowance can be used to minimize the impact. In reality this change hasn’t had a significant effect on the majority of athletes. OGA athletes (those with less than 5 starts last season or 20 in the last 5 years over the distance) can have their handicaps changed at any time and will generally start behind their RPM calculation.
This season will see a move to 3 satisfactory performances required for a lift for established athletes in the 70, 120 and vets 300, to now line up with what is required in the 400, 800 and 1600. All other distances, which are those not undertaken regularly are regarded as discretionary events and as such handicaps are reviewed after each start.
The move to 3 SPs will not mean the death knell of the VAL as some are predicting. It has worked well in the
circular events to reign in the front of the field and allows those off the pace to make up ground if they
compete regularly and consistently. On achievement of the 3 SPs if we think an athlete needs and has earnt
more than the minimum, they will receive it. Under the guidelines, each athlete can receive a lift after their
first SP over the distance if we believe it is warranted. Furthermore if you have 2 SPs going into Stawell you will receive a lift, if you have one you will be reviewed for a lift. OGA athletes will have their mark reviewed (but not necessarily increased) after each outing. The aim is to bring more athletes into a competitive position.
We again welcome Interstate athletes and advise that they will be treated the same as other OGA athletes in
the VAL. They will be given a start mark in accordance with the guidelines and the starting times for each
event. When they compete in the VAL they will have their mark reviewed. As with all athletes their
performances outside the VAL, which they must provide and declare, will be taken into account. The more
information we receive the easier it is to give new and interstate athletes an appropriate and competitive
mark. The less we have to go on, the more conservative we will be and if we lack sufficient information,
marks will be withheld until we receive it. Interstate athletes should be aware that generally VAL marks are
tighter than other professional Leagues and winning times slower.
I would suggest winning times in the major sprint events towards the end of the season will be slower than in recent years. We intend to keep a tighter rein on the front of the fields and this should place more
athletes in a competitive situation. For those that win early, less prestigious events, we will look to get their mark back quickly and get them back into the mix at the business end of the season. Our ultimate aim is to give the regular and consistent athlete competing in the VAL, the opportunity to be competitive at the business end of the season.
Finally we would like to stress the importance of declaring all outside performances regularly and PBs
immediately. As a matter of course we check outside results and take a dim view of discovering non declared
PBs. Those that run amateur can be assured that we will only adjust handicaps if PBs take ratings under the ceiling after allowing for rubber tracks and conditions. This rarely happens and we welcome and encourage dual registered athletes to compete in the VAL.
Please contact me through the office if you have any questions.
Best wishes and see you out on the track