Game Play Frequently Asked Questions
These FAQs are intended for those either unfamiliar with UK racing or those who are having trouble understanding some areas of the game. If you have a question please send an email and if suitable it will be included below. (Novice Quick Start Instructions)
Q. How does the handicap system work in Starters Orders?
A. Each horse is handicapped on it’s past form. The handicap range in this game differs slightly from reality and is 30-120 with 30 being a very poor rating. At the game start unraced horses do not have a rating IF they are a 2yo. Older horses are given an estimated rating to simulate the fact that they would have most likely raced (even though they have no actual form). After each run the handicap rating is adjusted depending on the horses performance. The level of this adjustment can depend on a number of factors (including the race category). Be aware that running a horse in a quality non-handicap race (listed and group races) can result in a severe hike in the horses rating should the horse perform well against higher rated opposition.
Q. What are Listed and Group races?
A. Listed and group races are generally the highest quality races and offer the most prize money. A Group 1 race is the highest quality race usually contested by the best animals, paying the most prize money. Group 2 is next and then Group 3. Listed races come after group 3 races in terms of quality and prize money and are often seen as the ‘next step’ for a horse that’s rating becomes so high opportunities in handicap races are restricted. These races are NOT handicap races (the horses do not carry weight based on their handicap rating). The horses carry penalties based on their previous performances in similar races – see the manual for a list of penalties.
Q. What is the ‘overweight’ number that sometimes appears in brackets next to a jockeys name on the racecard?
A. This signifies the extra weight a horse is carrying relative to the weight the handicapper has set (through the handicap rating). There are two reasons a horse is penalized in this way. This figure relates only to the difference between the weight the horse is set to carry (listed in the WeiGHT column) and the Jockeys actual weight. As an example a jockey weighing 8 4 riding a horse allocated to carry 8 2 will result in the horse carrying 2lb overweight. The second way a horse can be penalized by carrying more weight than officially allocated is explained below. Note: To avoid your horse carrying this form of overweight pay attention to the current fields weights in the DECLARATIONS section before the race date.
Q. What is the ‘Long Handicap’ box that sometimes appears on the racecard for Handicap races?
A. All handicap races have a Maximum Weight Range. If the top-weight (highest weighted horse) has a rating that is greater than 32 (each rating point = 1 lb) superior to the bottom-weight (lowest weighted horse) then the bottom weight will be penalized by carrying the race minimum weight (always 7 10 in this game). The weights that appear in the Long Handicap box are the weights the horse is rated to carry if there was no weight range cap. Therefore if the horses WEIGHT is 7 10 and it’s LONG HANDICAP WEIGHT is 7 2 the horse is at a 8 lb disadvantage. Again note: To avoid your horse carrying this form of overweight pay attention to the current fields weights in the DECLARATIONS section before the race date.
Q. I don’t understand the Jockey Control system.
A. Firstly it helps greatly if you have some idea of the horses preferred tactics. If the horse has previous form browse it’s formcards to get an idea of the tactics that appear to suit best. The Starter bar (the bar that goes up and down prior to the race starting) is important and is NOT just a mechanism for getting a good break. If your horse performs best when held-up then try to click when this bar is LOW. Doing this also requests that an attempt is made to settle or calm the horse in the early stages resulting in a greater potential to finish well. Alternatively, clicking when the bar is at it’s highest point requests that you horse is ‘set alight’ early and would suit horses that do well from the front. Bare in mind that there are many other factors that may restrict your tactical choices (for example, a horse running over a distance short of it’s best may not have the speed to lead). Click when the bar is at it’s mid point if you require a more even pace. Importantly, try to give your horse every chance by running a ‘smooth’ race. Don’t run the race in ‘snatches’. If you hold your horse up then try to make steady progress throughout the race instead of rushing into a prominent position too early and having to restrain the horse again before making a final effort. Many horses don’t respond well to this.
Q. (Jockey control) My horse doesn’t respond to pressure!
A. Sometimes a horse can find disappointingly little under pressure. This is normal and can be caused by a number of factors: A) The horse can’t go any faster! All horses have a limit to the speed they can travel – some have more speed than others. B) The horse is getting tired! Some horses can maintain a burst for longer than others. Some horses do not seem to have a ‘burst’ at all! C) Some horses take a while to respond and accelerate while others quicken impressively. D) Your horse may simply be a difficult ride – wasting valuable energy by pulling hard or racing too freely.
Q. What does the horses CONDITION parameter relate to?
A. Starters Orders 1: Basically CONDITION is refreshed every season and decreases during the season with racing (and to some degree training). A horse can usually be raced many times before it’s CONDITION becomes affected (although this depends on individual horses parameters) – once a horse condition begins to fall it can be considered as having had enough racing for the season. Although extended periods of rest will refresh the horse slightly (but rest has a negative effect on FITNESS so a balance is required). Starters Orders PRO: The training model has changed slightly in Starters Orders PRO. CONDITION Falls rapidly with racing and is refreshed with rest/varying training schedules. However, if a horse has had enough racing it may well be impossible to refresh the horse with short-term rest. In this case rest the horse un till next season.
Q. What is the best approach to train my racehorses?
A. We have already discussed the CONDITIONS parameter. As important as Condition is FITNESS. On race day the player should have both these parameters at their maximum for the horse to perform to it’s potential. Note though that the higher a horses fitness level and the harder the horse is trained/raced the faster the horses condition will become susceptible to loss. Therefore the best approach is to rest (or lightly train) your horse between races, increasing the horses training intensity as the race approaches. Each owned horse must be specified a LOT from 1-3. Lot 1 is the most intensive training, followed by Lot 2 and Lot 3 is gentle exercise. As the horses Fitness increases then so the player must increase the intensity of training by changing the horses allocated Lot. Note that training a horse with a very low Fitness rating in Lot 1 is risky. The horse is more susceptible to injury and receives less benefit from the training. From experience (by judging the Fitness parameter) the player will be aware of the point when a horses training intensity need stepping up in order to sustain improvement.
Starters Orders Pro Training Lot’s – Additional Information:
It’s probably best to look on each horse as if it has a limited amount of ‘fuel’ over the season. The rate you burn this fuel varies with the current LOT the horse is training in. It is entirely possible to leave your horse training in LOT1 (highest intensity). Training your horse in this lot ensures it’s fitness level will stay close to max (although condition will be slower to rise). A high fitness level also indicates the horse is ‘wound-up’, and sustaining this level in itself will lessen the horses ability to last the season. Note that you should not train a horse in lot1 if it’s fitness is very low – you should instead gradually raise the horses lot as it’s fitness increases. Your horses ‘fuel’ will burn quicker the higher the intensity of training (lot1 = most intense!) and the point where your horse has just had enough training/racing will come sooner. When this happens forget racing until next season. All horses have different ‘fuel’ levels. Some horses can race many times per season while other can’t. For the more fragile horses varying training is even more important. Also sprinters can usually take more racing than stayers.
The key to getting your horse fit to race AND extending it’s ability to take racing during the season is to plan your campaign and vary the horses training accordingly. After a race, decide on the horses next target. Lower the horses training to Lot2 (or possibly lot1). On this lower intensity your horses fitness will reduce but this rest is important to prolonging your horses season. As the date for the horses next race approaches increase the training intensity by setting the lot back to LOT1. Plan to time the training so your horses fitness and condition peak at race time. Also you can increase the intensity of training by increasing the number of times (from 1 to 2) that the horse is trained per week. The days the horse is trained on are listed on the training screen. If you wish to view any gallop times then return to the training screen on the indicated day.
It’s important to realize the key is the current Lot you are training your horse in. The other settings have only minor effects, such as gallop type, distance, speed and canters. These parameters can affect your horse more in the longer term (possibly increasing your horses overall preferred distance, stamina etc.).
Note that younger horses (especially 2yolds) are generally more fragile than older horses and less able to stand racing/training.
Q. Claiming and Selling races confuse me!
A. Selling races are low class races where the winner is automatically auctioned after the race. These are non-handicap races with runners carrying level weights, although there is a small sex allowance.
Claiming races are low class races where the winner is automatically auctioned after the race. These races allow the Trainer to effectively handicap his own horse (thus affecting it’s chance of winning). When entering a horse for a claiming race the player has the option of typing the number of lbs the horse is to carry over the minimum weight (7 10) in the CLAIM box (from 0 to 32). Leaving this blank will result in the horse carrying the minimum weight. The maximum a horse can carry is 10 stone – (enter 32 in the claim box). Note that the player must enter the CLAIM value BEFORE clicking the ENTER HORSE button. Check your horse has been allocated the correct weight by viewing the updated CURRENT FIELD box.