All Weather Racing Course Guide
The All-Weather Polytrack racetrack is a 8 furlong left handed oval with large sweeping bends. The track measures 22 metres in width and finishes with a 2 furlong home straight. Top trainers have recently been using the track to work their horses.
Unlike the other polytrack courses Chelmsford City is a galloping track and most horses can act on it. There seems to have been a definite bias towards front runners. The draw bias stats include the time when the racecourse was called Great Leighs as the track configuration and surface have not altered.
The first meeting was held under the name Chelmsford City on the 11th January 2015. The jockeys reported that the surface was riding very deep, and visually it appeared that their was a tremendous amount of kickback, meaning it was difficult for horses to come from behind. Time will tell if the surface is going to settle down.
The course is settling down now however the bias towards front runners appears to be even larger and it is very hard to come from behind at Chelmsford.
The all-weather course at Kempton actually consists of two courses, the inner course is around a mile in length and used for 5f , 1m 1f and 1m 2f distance races. The outer course extends the distance to a mile and a quarter and is used for 6f, 7f, 1m, 1m 3f, 1m 4f and 2m races.
One of the main differences between the two circuits is that the run in on the finish straight is around 2f on the inner loop but a noticably longer two and a half furlongs, giving a longer run in to the finish line when the outer loop is used for races.
The other thing to note on the Kempton all-weather track is how short the run in is to the first bend on the 5f and 6f courses, making it vital to get a good start from the stalls.
The polytrack surface is similar to that used at Wolverhampton and Lingfield, the major difference being that it is run right-handed, whereas all the other all-weather tracks in the UK are left-handed tracks.
The polytrack surface was relaid at Kempton in July 2012 and runs a little deeper than at Lingfield and so gives more “kickback” than the new Lingfield surface and is a little slower going, however since it was replaced, the surface rides quicker than the older polytrack at Wolverhampton, so sits between the other two polytrack courses.
As with all of the polytrack surfaces there is little draw bias and on the whole Kempton is a very fair track.
There used to be a distinct advantage to the high numbered stalls at Kempton racecourse, as being a right-handed course the higher numbered stalls were against the inside rail. In August 2011 the BHA changed the stalls positions for all right-handed courses and now the low numbered stalls are on the inside at Kempton. There is now a definate advantage to be had from a lower stall draw on the shorter 5f, 6f and 7f and 1m trips, looking at the statistics. Although the course still mostly favours front runners.
The Lingfield all weather course uses polytrack and the surface is probably the fastest of all the A/W racecourses in the UK. The believe is that front runners cannot win at Lingfield and because of this you often get falsely run races as nobody wants to lead. It is actually possible to win from the front if a horse gets given a soft lead. Otherwise the final turn which is preceded by a downhill section appears to act as a kind of slingshot similar to that in cycling, and the lead can change many times in the last furlong as horses shoot from the pack. The turf course is used a lot less often than the A/W course, however a strong bias appears to exist in that the far rail away from the grandstand is a lot quicker than other parts of the course. This fact means that in longer races front runners are favoured as they are able to bag that far rail, and any challengers have to come round them on the slower ground.
Southwell is the only course remaining in the UK which still uses Fibresand (Fibresand is a mixture of sand and wispy fibres).
The course favours prominent horses as it is very difficult to accelerate and make up ground, added to the fact that there is significant kick back if you are behind other horses. The nature of Fibresand is that it needs to be harrowed quite deep and this can throw up some strong biases with parts of the track quicker than others. It is felt that the centre of the track is generally quicker than being on the rails in the straight.
The now unique fibresand racing surface is quite deep and so makes the track a good stamina test. Ability to stay the distance and fitness are therefore big advantages at Southwell.
Wolverhampton racecourse is a left handed all-weather course. They have now become the first UK racecourse to use a Tapeta racing surface, with the first meeting on Tapeta being held on the 11th August 2014. It is still early days for Tapeta but it appears to resemble the Fibresand of Southwell, more than the Polytack of the other all weather courses, with it proving difficult to make up ground from the rear, and also suiting those US dirt sires which are also successful at Southwell.
The course is one mile (1,609 m) in circumference, with left-hand turns — giving it greater commonality with most racetracks found in the United States than with other venues in the UK.
Wolverhampton is tight with a short straight and like most of the all-weather tracks tends to suit horses that race handy, as it’s very difficult to come from a long way behind.