09/19/2014 7:47AM

Fornatale: Sunday contest just for newbies


The new contest announced this summer designed specifically for first-year National Handicapping Championship Tour participants is happening Sunday and will follow the typical 12-race, all-mandatory, $2 win-place format common on NHCQualify.com, which will host the tournament.

The buy-in for this first-of-its-kind contest is $25, and entries are limited to one per player. The top three finishers will win berths to the NHC, hotel rooms, and airfare to Las Vegas worth up to $400. The fourth through 10th finishers will receive a free entry to a future contest on NHCQualify.com.

To play in the tournament, contestants must purchase an NHC Tour membership. Membership costs $50 and can be obtained at https://www.ntra.com/en/signup. NHC Tour points will not be awarded since eligibility is restricted to rookies.

For first-year players, or even players simply thinking about joining the tour, participation is a no-brainer. Typically, it takes at least $165 to compete for an NHC seat on NHCQualify.com. Of course, with approximately 1,600 new players on the tour in 2014, the event will be very competitive.

The idea for the all-rookie event came from discussions at the NTRA. Keith Chamblin, NTRA senior vice president, said, “We were looking for a way to thank these new players and entice them with an offer that would introduce them to online tournament play.”

Chamblin also wanted to make sure that adding the rookie event wouldn’t disenfranchise longtime NHC Tour members. He said, “Thus, no Tour points and 100 percent of the entry fees other than the travel awards will go into the NHC prize pool in January.”

:: Click here to purchase a copy of “The Winning Contest Player” by Peter Thomas Fornatale

Once the idea for the contest was approved, it only made sense to involve NHCQualify.com, the official qualifying site of the NHC. Rookie players have the added benefit of gaining playing experience on NHCQualify.com.

Asked about the new format, NHCQualify.com contest director Ken Kirchner said, “For newer players, the intimidation factor is a reality. There’s definitely a learning curve. It’s hard to show up in your first online tournament and see all these familiar names playing multiple entries. This format gives these rookies who’ve committed to trying to qualify for the NHC a unique opportunity to be even more competitive from Day 1.”

Kirchner doesn’t expect the scores to be any lower than they would be for a tournament that wasn’t restricted to newbies. “Just because somebody’s a rookie doesn’t mean they’re not a good handicapper,” he said.

Here are the races in the contest:

3:41    Belmont 6 (7 furlongs, statebred, turf, allowance)
3:53    Churchill 7 (1 mile, dirt, claiming )
4:00    Arlington 5 (5 1/2 furlongs, turf, allowance)
4:13    Belmont 7 (6 1/2 furlongs, dirt, MSW)
4:30    Arlington 6 (7 furlongs, synthetic, claiming)
4:45    Belmont 8 (1 1/16 miles, statebred, turf, optional claimer)
4:55    Churchill 9 (1 mile, turf, allowance)
5:17    Belmont 9 (7 furlongs, turf, statebred, allowance)
5:27    Churchill 10 (6 furlongs, dirt, maiden claimer)
5:30    Arlington 8 (6 furlongs, synthetic, claiming)
5:49    Belmont 10 (1 1/16 miles, turf, claiming)
6:00    Arlington 9 (1 mile, turf, claiming)

Sign up now at https://www.nhcqualify.com/buy_advanced.aspx.