Serious punters know that picking a winner on the day of the race is not easy and comes down to a number of factors – one of those is the track rating.
Checking the weather report on a race day is necessary for more than just determining what you should wear, whether to take an umbrella and if you'll be enjoying the lawn or huddled inside for the day; it also has great significance in relation to how the horses perform.
Tracks in Australia have traditionally been rated from fast – a dry, hard track – to heavy, soft and wet – with levels of ‘good’, ‘dead’ and ‘slow’ in between.
Track ratings not only inform punters and connections how the horse may perform, they are also crucial to ensuring that safety is paramount and the surface is conducive to the horses' welfare. At Flemington, track ratings are taken daily by the track manager using a penetrometer, a stainless steel instrument that measures the tracks resistance to penetration by galloping thoroughbreds. Penetrometer readings are unique to the track they are taken on, due to different soil compositions.
Originally developed in France, the penetrometer device has a 1 kilogram weight that, when released by a trigger action, falls 1 metre down a shaft, hitting a 1 centimetre square rod into the soil. This is done three times in one position, giving three readings. A formula is then used to calculate the reading, based on the average figure for the entire course. At Flemington, each penetrometer reading takes approximately one and a half hours and is conducted in three different parts of the track to ensure an accurate rating.
For dedicated racegoers and punters, the track ratings are vital to calculating their chances in the race. Then there are the many others who simply go by the colours of the jockey’s silks or the horse's name!
For more information visit track and weather conditions.
|FIRM||1||Dry hard track|
Track with good grass coverage and cushion
|GOOD||4||Track with some give in it|
|SOFT||5||Track with a reasonable amount of give it Rain-affected track that horses will get into|
Rain-affected track that will chop out
|SOFT||7||Wet track getting into a squelchy area|
|HEAVY||8||Moist but not badly affected track|
|HEAVY||9||Wet track getting into a squelchy area|
|HEAVY||10||Heaviest category track, very wet, towards saturation|
Source: Racing Victoria