What the hell is the Going Stick?
In 2016, Victorian racing introduced the it for measuring track firmness, replacing the old penotrometer.
How does the Going Stick work?
An invention from the UK, the Going Stick actually takes two measurements. The user gains the measurements by pushing the Going Stick into the ground, and then pulling it back toward them. This measures:
- 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.
The racing clubs take readings of their track in the lead-up to the meeting. 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 (@TurfTrax) August 25, 2020
Turftrax is the British firm behind the Going Stick, and they publish Going Maps on their website – you can check them out here. It’s an excellent free service to punters in their quest to work out how a track might play.
Not all racing clubs have the Going Stick – they’re not the cheapest piece of equipment. However, they are available for a number of tracks in Victoria and Queensland: Caulfield, Flemington, Moonee Valley, Sandown, Ballarat, Bendigo, Cranbourne, Mornington, Pakenham, Doomben, Eagle Farm, Gold Coast, Ipswich, Sunshine Coast and Townsville.
Heres an example of a Going Map for Flemington. There’s a whole archive of them on the Turftrax website.
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.. Check them out before your next day on the punt!