In 2016, Victorian racing introduced the Going Stick for measuring track firmness, replacing the old penotrometer. An invention from the UK, the Going Stick actually takes two measurements when used:
- Penetration: similar to the penotrometer, this is the amount of force required to push the tip of the stick into the ground; and
- Shear rating: the amount of force required to pull the stick back to an angle of 45 degrees.
These two measurements combine to give a rating of the firmness of the ground. The higher the Going Stick rating, the firmer the track.
On a technological front, the stick automatically records the rating and feeds it back to a central database instantly, making it quick and easy to record measurements at a number of different points on the track.
Jason Kerr, General Manager of Racetracks at Melbourne Racing Club, was on the Betting 360 podcast recently and chatted about the use of the going stick – have a listen here.
The racing clubs take readings of their track in the lead-up to the meeting, and the technology allows for some extremely detailed going maps, much improved on anything that has been produced before.
Going Stick readings are taken every 200 metres around the track, and every 100 metres down the straight. Taking readings on the rail and at a couple of points further out across the track allows a profile of the entire track to be taken.
Turftrax, the British firm behind the Going Stick, actually publish these maps on their website, which offers an excellent free (yet little known) service to punters in their quest to work out how a track might play.
Check out the latest map for tomorrow’s Flemington meeting:
There’s also a large archive of previous maps available for Melbourne metro tracks.
Many professional analysts (including our Melbourne pro Trevor Lawson) walk the track themselves, but that’s obviously not practical for everybody. These maps offer the next best thing by giving you a good view of exactly how the entire track is shaping up leading into each meeting.