02 Dec 2003 Pre-2014 Releases

Jockey Club Announce Introduction of New Device For Measurement of Going

Published: 2 December 2003


The Jockey Club today revealed details for the phased introduction of the TurfTrax ‘GoingStick’, an electro-mechanical device which provides an objective assessment of going.

Developed by TurfTrax Racing Data Limited, the GoingStick produces a numerical reading – the GoingIndex – which can be correlated to a recognised going description, such as good to firm.

The phased introduction of the GoingStick will mean that initially it is in use on 15 of the 59 courses. The participating courses include the tracks which comprise the ‘Super 12’, as well as RHT’s Huntingdon, Northern Racing’s Uttoxeter and Arena Leisure’s Lingfield. The first fixtures will be Sandown’s meeting this Friday and Saturday. The other courses will follow suit as from their next meetings.

Tony Goodhew, the Jockey Club’s Director of Racecourse Licensing and Standards, said today: “This is a very exciting development. We see the adoption of the GoingStick by fifteen courses as an introductory phase which will enable all the interested parties, including punters, trainers and the media, to familiarise themselves with how the device works before expanding its use to all British racecourses.

“Turftrax, racecourses and our team of Course Inspectors have been quietly putting the GoingStick through its paces over the last two years, and we’ve now reached a stage where we have seen enough of the device to support it going “live” and provide formal going descriptions.

“We’re very aware that there have been a number of false dawns in the past, but it is our belief that Turftrax have produced a device which meets our criteria and should provide accurate and consistent readings to suit punters and racing professionals alike. We expect the results over the coming months to confirm this.”

The GoingStick’s numerical index spans a scale of 1 to 15 and is based on measurements of penetration – the amount of force taken to push the tip of the stick fully into the ground, and shear – the energy needed to pull the handle back to an angle of 45 degrees away from the ground. Research at Cranfield University, in conjunction with TurfTrax, showed these measurements, properly weighted, can replicate the impact of horses’ hooves on the ground.

For the past two years the GoingStick has been subjected to rigorous testing at a variety of racecourses during which time more than 60,000 readings have been recorded on a wide range of soil types and extremes of ground and climatic conditions. The introductory phase for the GoingStick includes the courses who have been involved in this development stage and hence are familiar with its operation. Feedback from these courses as well as those using the information will be welcomed and could result in presentational, logistical and software refinements before the GoingStick goes into more widespread general operation.

TurfTrax is arranging presentations for racecourses, trainers and the media during this phase.

Rupert Arnold, Chief Executive of the NTF, said: “Accurate going reports are essential for trainers and we’d support anything which consistently helps to produce them. The NTF has been aware of Turftrax’s work for some time and our members are looking forward to seeing the GoingStick used to produce official going reports.”

December 2nd 2003

Notes for Editors:

1. The 15 courses that will be involved in the introductory phase are Aintree, Ascot, Cheltenham, Doncaster, Epsom, Goodwood, Haydock Park, Huntingdon, Kempton Park, Lingfield, Newbury, Newmarket, Sandown, Uttoxeter and York.

2. Going Reports will appear as before but followed by a figure to denote the reading given by the GoingStick, e.g Good to Soft (6.2). The TurfTrax Going Index scale is as follows:

1.0 – 2.9 = Heavy
3.0 – 4.9 = Soft
5.0 – 6.9 = Good to Soft
7.0 – 8.9 = Good
9.0 – 10.9 = Good to Firm
11.0 – 12.9 = Firm
13.0 – 15.0 = Hard

Note: Currently, what is considered Good going at a jump meeting would be described as softer for a Flat fixture. With the GoingStick, the published going reading/figure will factor in the type of fixture the course is staging.

3. The original brief for prospective going device developers – as agreed between the Jockey Club, Racecourse Association and National Trainers Federation – was that any device should:

• give accurate assessments of going throughout the whole range of current descriptions irrespective of varying soil types;
• be hand held or ATV (Quad Bike) mounted;
• be simple and quick to operate;
• provide readings which are not affected by the user’s height/weight.
• be robust and weatherproof;
• display the assessment in simple numerical values with no opportunity for the user to influence the raw data;
• provide readings which can be directly compared from course to course;
• be economical to produce, operate and maintain;

4. The principle going device currently used by other racing authorities around the world is the penetrometer. This is used extensively in France (where it was first produced) and New Zealand, as well as at various racecourses in Australia, Japan and South Africa

The penetrometer measures surface hardness only, as opposed to the GoingStick which measures penetration and shear. Readings are obtained by determining the depth that a rod, which is 1cm2 in cross-section, penetrates the surface when struck by a 1kg weight that falls from a height of 1 metre.

The penetrometer was trialled at selected British courses in the 1990’s but was not felt to be accurate across the whole range of goings. Furthermore, the numerical readings at one course could not necessarily be directly compared with the same reading at a different track.

5. TurfTrax and GoingStick development history:

May 1999 – TurfTrax visit the Jockey Club to discuss ideas for a device to measure the going
August 2000 – The concept of the GoingStick (then known as ‘the Smart Stick’) is demonstrated to the Jockey Club by TurfTrax
January 2001 – A prototype device is built and initial readings are collected on course by TurfTrax with The Jockey Club Inspectorate
January 2002 – Four further prototypes are built and given to The Jockey Club Inspectorate for testing and feedback
August 2002 – Following Jockey Club feedback, TurfTrax begin testing the device on course to refine the overall design and the GoingIndex
December 2002 – 20 GoingSticks are built and distributed for use to the Super 12 courses and The Jockey Club Inspectorate
January 2003 onwards – The TurfTrax GoingStick matches the going reports at a number of major events including; The Grand National, The Guineas Meeting, The Derby, The Eclipse Meeting, Glorious Goodwood and the St. Leger

Turftrax Contact: Ian Harvey, tel – 01722 434000