Handicapping is used in thoroughbred and harness racing to make the chances of each runner as equal as possible.

Thoroughbred Racing

Thoroughbred racing aims to give every runner an equal chance of winning. Some horses have proven that they are faster or have more ability than others. The racing authority employs a handicapper to allocate the weight, or handicap, to each of runner in an attempt to balance the race. The horse with the best record is generally given the highest weight, the next-best horse is given the second-highest weight, and so on. The difference between the jockey's weight and the handicapper's assigned weight is made up with lead plates inserted into the saddles.

The weight column on the Runner grid shows the allocated weight (in kilograms) for each runner.

Harness Racing

Most harness races have mobile starts. That is, the runners are allowed to reach full pace behind a mobile barrier before the starter begins the race. Because harness tracks have a smaller width than racetracks, the runners normally line up in two rows of six or seven runners, depending on the size of the field. In mobile starts, all runners are listed as starting from the front (fr) handicap.

A harness race may also have a standing start. In this case, better-performing runners can be handicapped by making them give a start to runners in the front row. This handicap is listed in metres in the H/C column and indicates how far back from the front row this runner will start.