• Ruffina wins The Sprinters Cup (Gr.1)
  • Azzurro wins The Dr M A M Ramaswamy Stayers Cup (Gr.1)
  • Whomakestherules wins The Maj P K Mehra Memorial Super Mile Cup (Gr.1)
  • Kangra wins The Indian Turf Invitation Cup (Gr.1) in record timing
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Impact of Penetrometer Reading and False Rails on Track Index


How to incorporate the Penetrometer reading, and the information relating to the location and width of false rails, into the track index is a subject of some complexity and not much literature is available on it. I have just about applied some common sense and arrived at some empirical methods to deal with it. In this write up I shall indicate what my methods are, and then invite reader`s views on these in `Horse talk`, and perhaps based on the views, and if appropriate I may make some necessary changes in the assumptions/parameters, and we can arrive at some sort of consensus and then I shall come out with Part two in the series `Time form ratings` after incorporating all these issues.
The Penetrometer test determines the ground characteristics relating to its strength in terms of hardness. A certain weight is released by a trigger action on to a rod of certain cross sectional area and of a certain length, and the rod penetrates the soil to a certain extent. I will not go into the technical details of the experimental setup and the statistical procedure for arriving at `p`, except to say that as `p` increases the hardness decreases.

At first we need to determine the precise value of the penetrometer reading `p` that corresponds to the long term track index of the track in question.(For definition of the term `Long term Track Index` refer the time form rating article).Its obvious that these parameters will be different for different tracks, considering nature of ground, track gradients , undulations etc, etc.Hence different studies will be required for different tracks.

For the Bangalore race track, after studying the past records I take it that a penetrometer reading of 3.5 may be considered as corresponding to a Track Index of 1090m, ie comparable to the fastest category. As the reading increases above 3.5 there is an increase in the coefficient of friction between the horses` hooves and the ground. At first this increase is gradual, then moderate, and then substantial. As `p` increases there is a corresponding reduction in the Track Index.

For the Bangalore track The following empirical formula is suggested for arriving at the Track Index reduction values for different ranges  of `p`:
a)   For `p` between 3.5 and 4.0 reduce Track Index Ti by (p – 3.5)*10
b)   For `p` between 4.0 and 4.5 reduce Ti by 5 + (p – 4)*25
c)   For `p` between 4.5 and 5.0 reduce Ti by 17.5 + (p – 4.5)*40
d)   For `p` exceeding 5.0 reduce Ti by 37.5 + (p – 5.0)*60
Example: Consider race no: 73 won by Becket with `p` = 4.4, the reduction in track index is worked out as = 5 + (4.4 – 4)*25 = 15 and the reduced Track index = 1090 – 15 = 1075
Provision of false rails increases the distance travelled. Quantum of increase in the distance is a measure of the geometric layout of the track. If it’s a full circle and the width of false rails is `f`, then the quantum of increase is simply 2 x 3.14 x f.There is no increase in the straight portions. I do not have the precise data regarding the dimensional layout of the Bangalore race track, but I assume (for simplicity of calculation) that it is somewhat like this: A semi circle of arc length 600m from 2000 to 1400m, a straight course of 400m from 1400 to 1000m, a semi circle of arc length 600m from 1000m to 400m, and a straight course from 400m to the WP. Quantum of distance increase for a particular arrangement of false rails is best explained with an example:

Consider race no: 73 won by Becket with FR of average width 3.5m from 1600 to 1000m, and 7.5m from 1000m to WP.(As given in `Original Vel`)
False rails must start from zero width as its dangerous otherwise. Accordingly its assumed it varies from 0 to 7m from 1600 to 1000, and 7m to 8m from 1000 to WP. The distance of the race was 1800m, there were two arcs in the route, the first arc was 200m in length with average `f`= 1.16m, the second arc was a full semi circle of 600m arc length with average `f` = 7.3m. Accordingly the extra distance travelled works out as 2*3.14*1.16*200/1200 + 2*3.14*7.3*600/1200 = 24.14m
 Accordingly the adjusted value of the Track Index in Becket`s race was 1075*1800/1824.14 = 1061 Based on this value of the track Index, the adjusted value of the timing of the race = 111.1*1061/1090 = 108.14 secs. (Where 111.1secs was the actual timing)Accordingly, as the weight carried by Becket was 60 kg  the Time form  rating of Becket is worked out as  = 60*2.22 + 30 – 22222(108.14 -103.2)/1800 = 102.2
Based on the above criterion it is possible to prepare a simple programme on ` Excel ` to determine the time form rating of horses that participated in the ongoing Bangalore summer season. In fact I have already done so and give below the TF rating of a few horses with my views on the extent to which they can be relied upon:

BECKET : Race number 73,TF rating  102.Reliable,however as he ran after a layoff of 3 months he needed a run, I had rated him at 106 in the Mumbai season, I rate him at 104 and I think his pet distance is 1800m.

FLEET INDIAN: Race no 73, TF rating 96, Reliable.

ARABIAN PRINCE: Race 117,TF 72, Not reliable It was a slow run race.By comparison with Becket in The Maharaja`s cup and with Fleet Indian in The Bangalore ST.Leger,I rate him at 97.Pet distance 2200m and above.
SPRINT STAR: Race 31, TF 95, Reliable. Pet distance 1600m.
SUN KINGDOM: Race 84,TF 73,well in hand, I rate him at 76, Still to peak as he is a 3 yr old.

IMMENSE: Race 17,TF 66,Reliable,still to peak.

MOONLIGHT ROMANCE: Race 64,TF 56, Not reliable, slow run race, comparing with Sun Kingdom in the Bangalore Derby, and giving due cognizance to the fact that  better riding skills were made available to her than to SK, I rate her at 72.Still to peak.
SIRONO AND CARLA: Race 100, TF 63 still to peak, pet distance sprint.
The Indian rating system is about 26 points higher than the Time form rating system. Thus a horse officially rated at 126 points as per Indian rating system is about as good as a horse rated 100 in the Time form scale. Why it is like that is not understood, presumably it may be to prevent class V horses (0 to 26) from getting a negative rating.
Another constraint that the official handicapper faces is that he cannot always allot official ratings in conformity with speed ratings ie on the basis of timings alone, as he cannot give a triple promotion or even a double promotion to a horse, despite the  fact that the horse may have run  exceedingly well in a race with  smart timings. It will be unfair to the owner of a horse who wins a class IV race to find his horse promoted to class I, and thereby deprive him of prize money for a few more races. For example Sirono and Carla whom I have rated at 63 On the TF scale which is equivalent to 89 on the Indian rating system, may be officially  rated far below by the handicapper, and accordingly these two horses are expected to go on winning races (unless competing with similarly underrated horses), till such time as the official rating level  reaches a level which is matching with the speed rating. Generally we may find that all 3 yr old horses to be rated officially at levels well below their actual potential, and this gap keeps reducing as time goes by and by November/December the gap narrows down considerably. Consider for example the well performed Sun Kingdom whom I`ve rated on the TF at 76, which is equivalent to 102 on the Indian rating scale, but he is officially rated  only at 81 by the handicapper, which means that Fleet Indian who is officially rated at 120 could give Sun Kingdom 17 kg and still beat him. This doesn’t look likely, I doubt if FI can give more than 7 or 8 kg to SK, and this gap will reduce further with time. It might be a good idea if the handicapper gives two ratings to each horse, an official rating and a TF type rating based on potential as per speed rating. Many race tracks in UK in fact do show two types of ratings in the race books.
All this goes to show that it is a big advantage to work out your own ratings for the horses, and to keep updating them. It is not necessary to evaluate the TF ratings of all horses by this rigorous process. Perhaps it may be enough to do this exercise for about 20 to 25 horses. For other horses the ratings may be worked out by comparison studies. As far as possible closely fought races should be selected for this purpose, for better accuracy. Its a herculean task to work out TF Ratings for each and every horse. There are thousands of them. I do it only for class I horses and for those with classic potential.
In the same way the impact of Penetrometer Readings and false rails etc can be worked out for Pune, Hyderabad, Mumbai, and Kolkata race tracks.
In the `Time form rating` article I had rated Work Force as the best 3yr old in the World and Sydney`s Candy as the best upto middle distance. Neither of them lived up to my expectations. Workforce Performed miserably by finishing far away 5th in Saturdays King George and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, and Sydney`s Candy finishing 2nd  in a small field in the Swaps Stakes. Currently there are about 15 horses rated around 120 ( +_ 5),Cape Blanco,Midas Touch, Canford Cliffs,Workforce,Dick Turpin,Lope de Vago,Makfi,Looking at Lucky, Sydney`s Candy,Noble`s Promise, Bekhabad,Super saver,Planteur,Jan Vermeer, and it is difficult to say who will emerge as the Champion. Currently I rate Cape Blanco at the top.