Racecourse Going - What Does it Mean?

sands of mali flat racing sprint

What does going mean in horse racing?

The going is how horse racing enthusiasts describe the ground at a certain racecourse and it is measured by the clerk at the racetrack where they will determine the going by the moisture in the ground.

Similar to sports like tennis, all the horses will enjoy different conditions and you will always find reports going round that trainers and jockeys are glued to in order to compete in the races that are the best for their horse.

With this in mind, it’s vital you’re aware of the terms to understand how this may affect your bet and future races you are watching. Some horses are specialists in particular conditions and on the other hand, others may be adaptable and run effectively enough.

All different types of racecourse going


The firm ground tends to come around in the summer during the flat season when the racing ground becomes quite dry. This dry surface means horses are able to run faster and subsequently, many horses run their fastest races of the calendar year on firm ground.

Good to firm

With firm being faster surfaces, good to firm refers to the slower side of firm ground. Sometimes, if the ground is too firm, water will be sprinkled onto the racetrack, especially if no rain is predicted.


Good is often referred to as the fairest condition, due to the majority of horses being able to adapt to it. It’s easy to run on and it allows for more horses to participate in.

Good to soft

Good to soft is more common in the winter months and is mostly good ground that has had a touch of water.


Soft ground is more common in the jumps season as opposed to the flat season, simply because the weather tends to be wetter. The ground is deeper and more moist, and as a result, horses run much slower.


Heavy is where the stamina of a racehorse comes into play and it is easily the toughest to run on. This condition is very wet and you might here ‘heavy’ be described as a ‘bog’

Other types of horse racing going


Yielding is unique to Irish racing only and it is simply the equivalent to the British term listed above, ‘good to soft’.

All-weather going

All-weather tracks are artificial surfaces. Just like other sports, they are often made of sand and artificial grass. Because they are not affected by the weather as much, they have different going descriptions to turf racecourses.


The fast racing surface is quick and dry with minimal moisture and as a result, trainers will see their horse post much faster times.


Standard is what it says on the tin: not too much and not too little moisture.


Slow is used to describe a racing surface with moisture in it, just like soft racecourses.

What is the GoingStick?

The GoingStick was introduced back in 2007 and it has since become an integral part of horse racing staff's arsenal in judging each racecourse on a given day. The GoingStick is poked into the ground the reading will show how much moisture is in the ground depending on how far the stick goes into the ground. Pretty simple, but very effective.

How can the going help my racing bet?

The going is a vital component to horse racing betting. It is similar to how certain tennis players perform well on certain courts and horses are exactly the same in that some will perform better than others on a firm course, as they are able to run as fast as possible and simply blitz the track as a result. On the other hand, some horses fail to adapt to certain conditions and as a result, some punters tactically steer away from certain horses when the weather strikes in a certain way, such as if a heavy course comes and a horse can’t adapt very well.

The going will determine how a horse performs, that is a fact. So, it is advisable to constantly ensure you’re aware of the going on a certain day as some horses may favour it and others may not. Certain horses may find form on one given track, but this could diminish if they travel to another racecourse and the conditions are different, for example.