The following tools are used to determine a track rating:
The objective readings from the Penetrometer are considered along with a subjective visual assessment of the track. The Track Rating is not assessed strictly to a scale of the Penetrometer, Clegg Hammer.
The primary purpose of these tools is to assist the Racecourse Manager in determining the firmness of the track surface, the profile hardness and the shear strength of the turf. Readings are taken at least two days prior to a race meeting. The readings assist the Racecourse Manager in determining the maintenance regime leading into the meeting. On the morning of the race, readings are taken and the results in conjunction with the visual inspection, a track rating is posted.
||Soil resistance to penetration
||A 1 kilogram weight is released by a trigger action and falls 1 meter down a shaft, which in-turn hits a 1cm square rod into the soil profile. The 1cm square rod has 1cm increments as the measurement for the depth the rod that has entered into the soil profile. This action is undertaken 3 times in the one position, therefore giving 3 readings eg: 2.5, 4.5, 6.5. After all 180 drops have been completed in the 60 different positions around the track, the Penetrometer reading is determined by dividing the total by the amount of drops.
|No. readings taken total
|No. readings at each drop pint
|Higher number equals
|Lower number equals
The Stewards and Racecourse Manager usually walk the entire circumference of the track on the day of the race meeting. The visual inspection is subjective and takes into account the turf sward, softness/firmness under the heel, and surface moisture.
Track ratings are not an exact science. Once a rating is determined at a particular time, many variables can then affect this rating and the condition of the track e.g. Wind, humidity, precipitation, dew, fog, sun, cloud, number of runners per race, etc. The track rating may change during a race meeting.
Course Circumference Charts
These charts display the average reading across the track each 100 meters or 200 meters.
400 meters to Winning Post charts
These charts display the average reading for each lane down the straight measured at 2 meter intervals from the running rail.
Track ratings range from Firm to Heavy and they are very important for the racing industry to make informed decisions. Most horses race best on a firm, dry track and are best suited to Firm and Good tracks, while other horses are able to plough through the mud on a wet track quite easily and are best suited to wet conditions. The ratings are determined and are not a forecast.
- Firm. Dry hard track.
- Firm. Firm track with reasonable grass coverage.
- Good. Track with good grass coverage and cushion.
- Good. Track with some give in it.
- Soft. Track with a reasonable amount of give in it.
- Soft. Moist but not a badly affected track.
- Soft. Rain affected track that will chop out.
- Heavy. Rain affected track that horses will get into.
- Heavy. Wet track getting into a squelchy area.
- Heavy. Heaviest category track, very wet, towards saturation.