Should Horse Racing Fans Be Concerned About The Going Description?

If you are a horse racing fan you may ponder over the going description. It may vary from heavy to hard. Mostly, this is do to the weather (sometimes to do with the fact racecourses water the course throughout the season to keep it in good and safe condition). Those rainy spells can turn the going from good to firm to good to soft quite quickly.

Is it really something that makes the difference between your horse winning and losing?

You bet it is.

Each horse has its ideal going condition. This is probably to do with its anatomy. A trainer once said: ‘That horse should go well on the testing going because it has hooves the size of dinner plates.’

I guess it was said as a fact rather than some weird trainer humour told to people with not enough sense to know better.

The breeding of horses can often indicate the going they will appreciate. Some breeding lines are better on soft going while others are better on faster going. This should be noted if you are interested in betting.

It is worth noting that even artificial race surfaces, which are sand based, have changing going descriptions but, generally, not as extreme as the turf.

Why should you be observant about the going?

The difference between fast or slow going conditions can be significant on the time it takes a horse to run 5 furlongs (let alone a significant distance). In fact, the average time for 5f on good going would be about 1 minute. On soft or heavy going it could well be 7 seconds slower which equates to extra distance run of 100m. For a horse running over a distance of 1m 4f it could equate to 20+ seconds slower, which is the same as running an extra couple of furlongs.

Are there any other factors punters should take into account?

Yes. Nothing is straight forward. The problem being that many punters have questioned how the going description is judged or measured. The GoingStick is poked into the ground and this determines the going description. Unfortunately, it isn’t very scientific and people have complained it isn’t a realistic or accurate assessment. This fact is often noted as the time of the race varies markedly with the GoingStick. Some punters have suggested the going report isn’t at the top of the list of racecourse concerns and misinformation may help bookmakers win more money.

There is no doubt the going description is an important part of horse racing especially for both trainers (who may favour a certain going for their horse) and for punters who need an accurate description to bet on a level playing field (so to speak). If you are betting, it is important you are satisfied the going description is accurate. The only real assessment to appreciate this fact is by noting the time or times of races, which may indicate whether the going is faster or slower than advised. However, this isn’t a fail safe indicator as other variables may be at play for example, the race may be run at a slow pace, head wind or back wind, or track bias. What may seem a simple matter can become quite complex.

Does it really make any difference to a race result?

If your horse is beaten by a nose and the going description isn’t what you expected, you may have reason to complain.