What is "The Going" in Horse Racing?

Horse Racing The Goings Explained


If you are a newcomer to horse racing, or an occasional horse racing punter then one thing you will see and hear about is the going. You may have a little understanding of this, but what is the going in horse racing?

This is the term used to describe the ground, and if you are going to have any success at all when you are placing your horse racing bets, it is something you need to consider. When a race meeting takes place on turf, the clerk of the course will declare a going, which is determined by a going stick, and how far the stick goes into the ground.

The going can range from being firm, which is when we have not had any rain for a long period, all the way down to heavy, which is when the ground is very soft after a lot of bad weather. The going changes depending on the weather, so if you are looking for the going, try and look on the day of the meeting.

In the winter months, the going is left natural, because there is nothing we can do to make conditions better if there has been a lot of rain. However, in the summer, racecourses will often water the track ahead of racing to try and make conditions a little easier on the horses. In terms of flat summer racing, the ideal scenario would be to have the going as good or good to firm. In the winter, where jump horses prefer softer going, the ideal scenario would be to have soft or good to soft ground.

The Different Types of Ground

In order of quickest to slowest, here are the different types of ground you will see:

  • Firm
  • Good to Firm
  • Good
  • Good to Soft
  • Soft
  • Heavy

Officially, there is one more type of going, which is known as ‘hard’. However, due to concerns over horse safety, if the ground is ever described as hard then the meeting will not go ahead. This is considered too hard to run on.

How the Going Affects Your Betting

The going is incredibly important for horses, and can seriously harm their chances of winning, so when it comes to your betting, you should treat it as exactly the same.

To highlight this, let’s look at a prime example, Battaash, who is regarded as one of the best sprinters in the world.

He’s ran a total of eight races in the past two seasons, winning six of those.

Four of those six wins, and his best performances, have all been on ground described as good to firm. The two losses came on good ground and heavy ground, so you can clearly see that this horse much prefers faster ground.

In terms of your betting, you are going to be far more confident of a Battaash win if he is running on good to firm ground, based on what has happened in the past. This horse may of course be good enough to win on softer ground, but he is not as strong a betting proposition, and one you may want to leave.

By evaluating horses in terms of class, then adding the ground factor in, you can either swerve a horse because of it, or be even more confident with the selection you are backing.

How Long Before a Meeting Will We Know the Going?

Going descriptions are given in the build up to a meeting, and can easily be found on the internet. However, remember that either watering by the course if the weather is hot or natural changes due to rain if that is forecast, will definitely change things.

The closer to the race you can leave things, the better, and the going may even change in between races if conditions take a turn.

Is the Going More Important for National Hunt Racing or Flat?

The answer to this is that they are both as important. It is the changes from what horses are more familiar with that is the key here. For example, faster ground for national hunt racing and heavy ground for flat racing are the two instances where horses will really be affected.

Heavy ground for national hunt racing and firm ground for flat racing will affect some horses of course, but more are likely to be fine with this, because it is similar, just slightly worse, to what their regular ground would be.

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