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Going (horse racing)

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Title: Going (horse racing)  
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Subject: Horse racing, Going, 1993 Grand National, 2005 Kentucky Derby, 2005 Preakness Stakes
Collection: Horse Racing
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Going (horse racing)

A sloppy racetrack in United States.

Going (UK), track condition (US) or track rating (AUS) are the terms used to describe the track surface of a horse racing track prior to a horse race or race meet. The going is determined by the amount of moisture in the ground and is assessed by an official steward on the day of the race.

The condition of a race track plays an important role in the performance of horses in a race. The factors that go into determining race track condition include the surface conditions, type of surface, and track configuration. The surface conditions are influenced by the type of surface factoring in soil type, and if the track is dirt, turf, artificial surface; plus surface density, porosity, compaction and moisture content.[1]


  • Australia 1
  • United Kingdom and Ireland 2
  • USA 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5


Prior to a race meeting, an inspection of the racecourse’s surface is conducted by officials. This inspection consists of a visual inspection and the use of a tool called a penetrometer which measures the soil’s resistance to penetration. The inspection is conducted before the meeting to allow publication of the track rating for the benefit of punters and trainers. In the case of rain prior to a meeting a much earlier inspection will be made to permit an early decision as to whether the meeting can proceed, before travelling horses depart for the meeting.

Tracks may be upgraded or downgraded while a race meeting is taking place. The main reasons for this is that sun/heat is able to dry out the track during the course of the day possibly resulting in track upgrade or that inclement weather and rain continues as the racing continues (track downgrade). Jockeys, too, will be involved in inspections made during the meeting if there is any doubt as to the safety of riding on a downgraded or wet track.[1]

Below are the official ratings which are recognised by all race clubs in Australia:[2]

  • Fast 1 A dry hard track
  • Good 2 A firm track
  • Good 3 Ideal track with some give
  • Dead 4 Track with give, better side of Dead
  • Dead 5 Significant amount of give, worse side of Dead
  • Slow 6 A mildly rain affected track, better side of Slow
  • Slow 7 Rain affected, worse side of Slow
  • Heavy 8 Soft track, just into Heavy range
  • Heavy 9 Very soft, genuine Heavy
  • Heavy 10 Very soft and wet, heaviest category

United Kingdom and Ireland

In the UK, there are seven grades of surface, which are:[3]

  • hard
  • firm
  • good to firm
  • good
  • good to soft
  • soft
  • heavy

The 'hard' grade is rarely used, as a racetrack with this type of surface is generally deemed to be dangerous to both horses and jockeys.

In Ireland the term "yielding" is used for "good to soft" going.

For artificial surfaces in the UK the official grades are:

  • fast
  • standard to fast
  • standard
  • standard to slow
  • slow


In the United States, different systems are used for turf racetracks and dirt tracks. Artificial surfaces use the dirt track rating system at present.

For dirt tracks the track conditions are:[4]

  • fast: dry, even, resilient surface
  • good: a track that is almost fast
  • cuppy: a dry and loose racing surface that breaks away under a horse's hooves.
  • muddy: a track that is wet but has no standing water.
  • sloppy: a track saturated with water; with standing water visible.
  • slow: a track wet on both the surface and base.
  • sealed: A track surface that has been packed down. A sealed dry tracks allows water to run off the track, reducing the amount of precipitation absorbed. Wet tracks are sealed to provide a safe and even racing surface[5]

For turf tracks, the track conditions are:[4]

  • firm: a firm, resilient surface.
  • good: a turf course slightly softer than firm.
  • soft: a turf course with a large amount of moisture. Horses sink very deeply into it.
  • heavy: Wettest possible condition of a turf course; not usually found in North America.


  1. ^ Track conditions Retrieved 2010-9-24
  2. ^ Australian-track-ratings Retrieved 2010-9-24
  3. ^ "BHA GENERAL INSTRUCTIONS". British Horseracing Authority. 29 March 2014. para. 22. Retrieved 12 September 2014. 
  4. ^ a b of Saratoga racetrack terms
  5. ^

External links

  • Track rating
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