What the “Going” is in Horse Racing

What the “Going” is in Horse Racing
© Racing Post / Edward Whitaker
James Prosser
Friday 4th January 2019

One of the most integral parts of picking a winner in racing, our guide will explain what the going is and why it is important.

What Is The Going?

The going, quite simply, is the track condition on the day of racing – that is, the state of the ground which the horses will be running on.

Certain horses like certain types of going, so it’s a crucial factor in selecting a winner.

What are the different types of going?

Although it’s not raced on anymore due to safety concerns, “Hard” ground was the firmest type of surface. On the other hand, Heavy ground is the opposite end of the spectrum and the deepest (muddiest) type of surface.

From hardest to softest, here are the official goings for British turf courses along with their common abbreviations:

  • Firm (Fm)
  • Good to Firm (GF)
  • Good (Gd)
  • Good to Soft (GS)
  • Soft (Sft)
  • Heavy (Hy)

It is also possible for a course to be two types of going at the same time – this is described as “in places”. For example: Firm, Good to Firm in Places

For All Weather, the options are simpler:

  • Slow
  • Standard
  • Fast

It is also possible for All Weather tracks to be between two goings – for example, Standard to Slow or Standard to Fast. The vast majority of tracks simply report “Standard”.

On racecards, they will usually shorten the going descriptions in a horses form to save space. These will usually be displayed after the length of the contest, for example, if “16GD” is displayed, that means the horse ran over two miles on good ground.

How is the Going determined?

The “Going Stick” was made mandatory for all British racecourses in 2008 and is the way that courses work out the going for each race day. To get a reading, the clerk of the course will simply push the Going Stick into the surface and the device itself will do the rest.

The device itself measures the amount of force needed to push the tip into the surface and the then the amount of energy needed to pull the stick back to a forty-five degree angle. These measurements are then stored in the Going Sticks’ memory and can be automatically uploaded.

The Going Stick is only used on turf tracks. All Weather tracks are compacted by rain and racing, and track maintenance removes the firmness. The clerk of the course judges the going on All Weather tracks by experience.

Is the going important for picking winners?

Quite simply, some horses can only run on certain types of surfaces and much of this due to the action of the individual horse. For example, if a horse has an exaggerated knee action (grabbing at the ground), it will rarely run its best races on a better surface.

Conversely, a horse which doesn’t pick its knees up much and runs with a faster action is more likely to excel on a faster surface. Obviously, there are exceptions to the rule and some horses will run their races on any surface, so it’s best to check the racecard for each individual horse to check their runs on other surfaces.

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