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Reading Track Conditions in Races

Reading Track Conditions in Races
Reading Track Conditions in Races

Track conditions in horse races is very important factor to read and find out. Afterall the horse you have bet upon has to run on the track and if the track conditions are favorable or not you need to consider.

Different horses enjoy different ground conditions and therefore the going reports are vital for a horse’s trainer and owner in deciding when and where a horse should run. A number of terms are used to describe the various types of going and it is important to look back at how a horse has run before in the prevailing conditions. Some horses are specialists in a particular going. Whereas others may be adaptable to different conditions and run effectively on various going types.

The ground at a certain racecourse is measured by the clerk of the course at the racetrack and is determined by the amount of moisture in the ground.

The major factors of the race track condition to consider in evaluating prospective horse performance include:

  • surface conditions
  • type of surface
  • track configuration
  • and the racing speed

Race track conditions are influenced by the following factors:

  • soil type
  • density
  • porosity
  • compaction
  • moisture content

Here are some detailed looks at different types of track conditions.

Dirt Track Conditions

  • Fast – When track conditions are running the dirt is packed tight for a premium conditions for some horses. When the track is Fast , that is when track records are broken
  • Wet-Fast The track has fast times and is running fast but the hard surface has a thin layer of water , They call this wet – fast- The track has fast times and is running fast but the hard surface has a thin layer of water , They call this wet – fast
  • Good   The dirt is drying out and slowing the track down.
  • Muddy   The surface is muddy do to rain and wet conditions
  • Sloppy  This is a very wet water logged surface where water has pooled up on the track.
  • Frozen  The is a very hard surface where a wet track has frozen
  • Slow  The dirt is deep and drying out producing slow track times.
  • Heavy  In this state the were the dirt is very deep and dry producing very slow times

Turf (Grass) Course Conditions

  • Firm  Turf is a dry firm surface running fast
  • Good  Sort of firm with slight moisture
  • Soft  The turf contains some moisture and has give
  • Yielding  Deep wet turf that runs slow
  • Heavy  Very wet deep turf – this runs the slowest

Australian race tracks are given a rating from 1 to 10, with 1 being a very firm, hard track, whereas 10 is an extremely rain-affected, heavy track. A track rating around 3 or 4 is seen as ideal, with just enough give in the track to prevent jarring. Many sites on horse races have form guides and are colour coded to make it easier to follow a horse’s performance on certain track conditions. Track conditions are a vital part of the form, with horses often suited either on a dry or wet track.

As of 1 December 2014, the classifications for Australian track conditions were changed to the following:

Rating

Numerical RatingOld RatingDescription of Numerical Rating
Firm1FastDry hard track
Firm2GoodFirm track with reasonable grass coverage
Good3GoodTrack with good grass coverage and cushion
Good4DeadTrack with some give in it
Soft5DeadTrack with a reasonable amount of give in it
Soft6SlowMoist but not a badly affected track
Soft7SlowMore rain-affected track that will chop out
Heavy8HeavyRain affected track that horses will get into
Heavy9HeavyWet track getting into a squelchy area
Heavy10HeavyHeaviest category track, very wet, towards saturation
Synthetic SyntheticThere are a few synthetic tracks now in Australia, which allow for racing in any weather conditions.

New Zealand Racing

New Zealand racing’s track conditions have also been altered slightly to align with the new Australian terminology. New Zealand racing also relies on a penetrometer to establish a numerical value for the track’s condition. Our New Zealand form guides, as with the other international Form Guides mentioned above, use the Australian classifications for the penetrometer values provided by the track.

UK Racing

The track conditions in the form for UK differ slightly but have been adjusted to be in line with the Australian track conditions to help simplify grading and give a common point of reference. Unlike Australian synthetic tracks, UK synthetic tracks have a number of ratings, with standard being the most common. Other classifications include fast, standard to fast, standard to slow and slow.

United KingdomComment
FirmExtremely hard and fast track very rarely seen.
FirmA dry and firm track.
GoodDry Track.
GoodDry track with a little give in it.
SoftA track with a fair bit of give in it heading towards soft ground.
SoftWet and soft track.
HeavyWet, rain affected track which races very slow.
Standard (Synthetic)Synthetic tracks are often rated as ‘standard’.

What is Going Stick?

The amount of moisture in the ground is assessed by a numerical reading on the ‘GoingStick’. Introduced in 2007, the GoingStick is poked into the ground and depending on how far the stick goes in, the reading will show how much moisture is in the ground. Before the advent of the GoingStick, clerks of the course measured the going using the heel of their wellies or the pointy end of a walking stick. (with inputs from various racing sites)

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