Ratings based races will replace intermediate and progressive grade events when the new racing season starts on August 1.

New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing (NZTR) has approved the new system which follows the introduction of the rating-based handicapping system last year.

All lower grade races, with the exception of premier quality events, will have a ratings band.

As a guide, horses currently eligible for intermediate races will be able to run in races up to a rating of 76. Progressive races would be the equivalent of a rating up to 92.

It is likely the ratings will vary, particularly at mid-week meetings where there could be a top level of 83 for the equivalent progressive race.

NZTR chief executive Allan Fenwick said the idea of the new system was to provide more opportunities for horses to race and to allow them to be more competitive.

Every horse has its own rating and this is updated after every start. The ratings can be viewed on the NZTR website.

As a result of the new ratings-based races, the current drop-back in grade provisions become obsolete.

It is planned to continue with the premier quality events for the first four months of the new season when they will be reviewed.

NZTR has also confirmed changes to minimum weights from the start of the new season.

The minimum weight for all handicap races, except group and listed stakes' events, will rise from 52 to 53kg. The minimum topweight for handicap races, except two- and three-year-old events, will increase from 57 to 58kg. For maiden races, colts, geldings and entires will carry 57kg and fillies and mares 55.5kg.

- NZPA