I have heard many times that the idea of horse race handicapping is that the handicapper aims to arrange that all the horses cross the finish line at the same time. But I am a little bit sceptical that this is really what is going on. If it were really true then you would expect certain behaviours that I simply do not see. Take for example the Grand National (which has around 40 entrants). If handicapping really worked then you would expect:
Nobody would have any clue whatsoever about who might win until after the handicapper had chosen the weights.
All the discussion around who might win would revolve around the handicap and the idea of talking about a horses abilities without reference to the handicap would be plain silly.
It would be every bit as likely that a really slow donkey of a horse would win as a superstar.
The chances that the previous winner would be favourite to win would be very slim (approx 1 in 40).
The chances of a horse ever winning three times (i.e. Red Rum) would be incredibly small (approx 1 in 40x40x40 which is 1 in 64,000).
Now I'm not really a horse racing buff, so maybe I haven't been paying enough attention, but I haven't really seen that these things have been happening. Can anyone clarify what is going on?