What’s the going?

The ‘going’ is the official description of the ground conditions at a racecourse. It is determined by the moisture content and measured by the Clerk of the Course, either by using a device called a GoingStick, or subjectively. Of course, some horses have distinct going preferences, so accurate going reports allow their connections to make informed decisions about where they should run.

On turf racecourses, the going can be described as ‘hard’, ‘firm’, ‘good to firm’, ‘good’, ‘good to soft’, ‘soft’ and ‘heavy’. ‘Firm’ corresponds to a GoingStick reading of 10 and ‘heavy’ to a GoingStick reading of 5; beyond those upper and lower limits, the ground is generally considered unraceable. Indeed, ‘hard’ going is no longer considered safe for National Hunt racing in Britain.

On synthetic, or all-weather, racecourses, the going on the Fibresand, Polytrack or Tapeta racing surface can be adjusted, to some extent, by harrowing or rolling. The Clerk of the Course relies on the traditional, subjective approach to describing the going, rather than empirical readings from the GoingStick. Going descriptions for all-weather racing a limited to ‘fast’, ‘standard/fast’, ‘standard’, ‘standard/slow’ and ‘slow’, which correspond to dry, moist, wet and sodden underfoot conditions.