By Noel Michaels for

The NTRA launched the first-of-its-kind player rating system for the National Horseplayers Championship [NHC] on March 1, with tournament players now being assigned something akin to a “handicap,” similar to those used in golf or bowling. Player ratings will be searchable in a leaderboard format on the website, and will also appear on players’ individual bio pages on as the NTRA continues to boost the biographical and statistical information it keeps on its players. Going forward, this will make the NHC section of the website a more interactive destination for players hoping to see how they stack up against their peers in the tournament world.

“We believe the rating will generate more interest in the NHC while providing Tour members with another way to measure their skill level against other contest players,” said Keith Chamblin, CEO of the NTRA and NHC Tournament Director.

All active NHC Tour members will automatically be rated, ranging from the new rookie sign-up level of 2.0 all the way up to a maximum rating of 10, which currently has been reached by three longtime standout contest players – Roger Cettina of Rumson, N.J., Bill Shurman of Danville, Calif., and Paul Shurman of Dix Hills, N.Y.

Player ratings, which will be updated on a weekly basis, are arrived at using many variables including winning an NHC qualifier, performances in NHC qualifiers, accumulation of NHC Tour points, and various contest play not only in the current year but also in the previous three years, plus earlier results to a lesser extent.

It is no surprise to find Cettina and either of the Shurman brothers atop the initial ratings, as all are amongst the top players in the history of the NHC and have enjoyed plenty of recent success. NHC Hall-of-Famer Paul Shurman is a record 16-year NHC qualifier and former NHC Tour champion that has racked-up $226,000 in career NHC earnings and ranks first on the career NHC finals scoring list. Bill Shurman is a 15-year NHC qualifier ranked fifth on the latest NHC career scoring list who has earned high placings both in past NHC finals and on NHC Tour.  Roger Cettina is a nine-year NHC qualifier who, amazingly, has been NHC runner-up twice, in 2013 and 2016. All three players were double-qualifiers for last month’s NHC.

Let’s take a look at where some other luminaries rank in the first-ever NHC player ratings . . .

Current NHC Champion Chris Littlemore of Ontario, Canada has a 9.95 rating, and current NHC Tour champion Mike Ferrozzo of Eagan, Minn. ranks a 9.99. As for the previous two NHC champions, Ray Arsenault of Ontario, Canada, has a 9.74 rating, while Paul Matties from Ballston Spa, NY. rates a 9.65.

Amongst the top scorers in the history of the NHC finals, in addition to Paul Shurman and Bill Shurman, past NHC champion Richard Goodall of Las Vegas earned a 9.96 rating, while Duke Matties of Laguna Beach, Calif. rates a 9.72. NHC II champion and sixth all-time leading NHC scorer Judy Wagner of New Orleans gets a 9.94.

As for some of the all-time leading NHC prize earners, hey let’s face it, they rank highest in the ultimate rating system – money earned. However, if you were wondering, all-time leading NHC money earner Michael Beychok of Baton Rouge, La. ($1,015,300 in winnings), gets a 9.96 rating, while third-highest career earner John O’Neil from Huntington Station, NY. ($811,000), rates a 9.97.

The ratings aren’t all about the top players in history, however, they include everyone on the NHC Tour. Just to give you an example of how some top newcomers stack-up, let’s use the ratings of the top rookie players from last year’s NHC Tour. The 2017 rookie champion Charles Myers gets a 9.56 rating. Also showing that you don’t need to be an NHC winner or 10+ year NHC qualifier to rank highly are the ratings of last year’s second-, third-, fourth-, and fifth-place rookies, as follows: Scott Boudreaux (9.32), Carol Johnson (9.34), Gary Fenton (9.23), and Karl Barth (9.24).

The NHC ratings system is most-heavily weighted toward recent results, so you can see it is possible for players to move up the rankings very quickly based on good tournament showings.  For full details on how the ratings are calculated, go to for all the information.

By the way, yours truly gets a 7.52 rating.  I’ll have to work on that in 2018! Where do you rank on the list and what is your rating?  Everything you do on the NHC Tour from here on out is sure to affect your ranking, so it’s time to get cracking in tournament play for 2018. Plenty of chances to qualify for the 2019 NHC are already happening.

While there are many factors that go into the computation of one’s NHC rating, the process to get rated is simple,” Chamblin said. “All one has to do is join the 2018 NHC Tour and start playing in officially sanctioned qualifiers to the NHC.”