In thoroughbred racing, a horse “class” is used in two different ways.
Firstly it is used to describe the different types and grading of races in Australia: at the lowest end of the class hierarchy is a Maiden race and at the highest end is a Group 1 Weight For Age (WFA) race. Secondly and more importantly from a handicapping perspective, class refers to the ability of a horse compared to its rivals.
In this respect, class can be described as the combination of speed, stamina and determination a horse possesses… qualities that allow it to win or be competitive at a given level of competition. The higher the grade of race, the greater the speed, stamina and determination a horse needs to win.
A horse that has won or placed at Group 1 level has more class (ability) than a horse that can only be competitive in a restricted grade.
The ability to understand and accurately assess class / ability is one of the most important elements of good form analysis. If a horse does not have the necessary ability to win the race, then other positive factors such as form, fitness, distance, weight, barrier, jockey etc. are largely irrelevant.
The following guidelines provide a framework that can help you to assess class when doing the form: