Punters – beaten by the stick

16 Jun

The days when Clerk of the Course going reports were gospel are gone thanks to Going Stick Readings with Turftrax, but have we been sold down the river?

Following a tweet from @zaarito (Dan Richardson) I was intrigued by Ascot going report, and how soft exactly was Ascot round course on the opening day.

Inquisitive as I am, away I went, and what I found was astounding.

60 active courses, so you’d think the use of the Going Stick would be uniform, bar the festival meetings like Ascot with it’s wide straight. How wrong I was.

20 of these 60 courses have “Grid Zones”, this is where course is split into furlongs, and at each zone they take 3 readings, stand, centre and far, resulting in an average rating.

Firstly, can we please be provided with a list of courses that do use “Grid Zones” and those that do not?

Secondly, why is this data not available to all? I would appreciate knowing if the slowest part of a course was the first 2f of the home straight, or that the turns were the slowest parts of the course.

This is data readily available and already being forwarded to Turftrax. The publication of this data is down to BHA, and them only, as confirmed by Turftrax themselves.

The other 40 courses take readings from points in the course on a regular basis, and this data is used to produce the Going Stick Report.

Can we have a course diagram showing the positions where these readings are approximately taken from? Then in turn, can readings be posted on BHA/Turftrax/Courses website?

I’m not asking for information which is unattainable, sectionals are months away, but these readings have been taken for years. This information should be published and then it’s for the punter to deem if it’s worthy of interpretation or not.

I leave you with the response of one Clerk of the Course, one that does take a “Grid Zones” reading, which just shows what punters are up against, and that once again BHA are unaware of who is responsible for what in house:

“Would be a decision for Turftrax as they have the data. Not sure the raw data would be helpful”

I for one wouldn’t mind knowing if the last furlong was the slowest/quickest furlong underfoot.


Posted by on June 16, 2011 in Uncategorized


2 responses to “Punters – beaten by the stick

  1. Steeplechasing

    June 17, 2011 at 1:41 pm

    I think the going stick reading, as an industry measure, is useful only in comparing ground on the same course. The soil at Hamilton is probably different to the soil at Goodwood which will be different again to that of York.

    I’m no soil expert but I’d expect the going stick reading to be affected not just by the amount of moisture in the ground but on whether the soil is clay-based, sand-based or whatever. It’s a cosmetic tool anyway, imo. Clerks’ key concerns will always be maximising fields (they will say it is safety and, as a tangible target, there’s no arguing with that). The intangible, however – plenty runners=more customers & bigger levy, is bound to affect descriptions. Nothing over-rides human nature.

    • Daniel Kelly

      June 17, 2011 at 1:52 pm

      I agree, it’s foolish to compare one course to another with regards to stick readings, and is something which I feel that many are aware of.

      I strongly disagree with regards to it being a “cosmetic tool”, if used correctly when reviewing races, and comparing track conditions to previous meets then I think it is an invaluable tool. We only have to look at courses like Haydock, where continuosly we are told the going is “Good to Soft”, yet when comparing readings to previous meets, we can see how soft, or heavy, the ground actually can be.

      There are courses, and Clerk of the Courses who I rate highly, and are very thorough, yet the use of this tool is not being maximised, nor is the data that is being taken is available for interpretation by all. From email exchanges with Turftrax, I feel that they too are frustrated by the lack of progress we have seen with regards to the use of the Going Stick.

      I long for the day where I can have Going Stick reading per furlong, for a 12f loop course, and can compare them meet to meet. This is data that can be accessible by Clerk of the Courses & Turftrax for 20 courses, unfortunately the BHA do not deem this data worthy of production.


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