The impact of false rails is minimal,if the distances measurement by rodometer is correctly done but the impact of surface condition as reflected by penetrometer reading is substantial and must be carefully and correctly evaluated. Following article is a reproduction of an article posted by me on my blog in June 2009
Horseracing is a complicated but a challenging game with many unknowns and imponderables. Peneterometer reading is one of the parameter which tries to indicate the kind of ‘going’ on a particular day to help punters arrive at a correct decision.
The racetrack is made up of several ‘layers’ of ‘surfaces’ laid one over each other having different composition and therefore, have different porosity and rate of absorption of moisture or water. for example, a racetrack may have 3 to 4 layers of surface - the bottom layer may be made up of 6 to 12 inches of clay and natural soil which is covered with a layer of 4 to 6 inches of sand and/or silt and this layer is then garnished by 3 to 4 inches of sandy loam cushion which is then topped up by 2 to 3 inches of a mixture of mud, sand, manure, tan etc. to sustain the growth of grass (turf) for the whole racing season. Therefore, the turf which forms the upper surface of the racing track is like a skin which gets ‘torn’ by the pounding hooves of hundreds of 500 Kg. thoroughbreds running with a speed of about 50/60 km per hr every race day. This ‘skin’ or turf is kept alive artificially by regular watering and garnishing to retain its resilience and the quality throughout the length and the breadth of the racing surface . The moisture (amount of water) on the ground , humidity, ambient temperature etc., will determine the quality of surface on a particular race day which may help or hinder the mobility of a runner by providing an ideal or a detrimental( uncooperative ) racing surface.
To help the punters and quantify these unknowns the race clubs have devised a measurable system which indicates the quality of the racing surface ‘at that time’- ‘on that day’and this ‘quality’ is expressed by a numerical value measured in centimeters – called penetrometer reading which provides the ‘give in ‘ of the racing surface on that day .
And what is this penetrometer(PNR) reading ?
As per the International standards a weight of one Kg. from a height of one meter is dropped on a spike touching the racing surface and the ‘depth of penetration’ of this spike in the racing surface , measured in centimeters, gives the peneterometer reading. This very simple idea apparently seems and looks very easy and uncomplicated. But the ramifications are not as simple , because a minor change in its value can change the results of a race and help an alert punter and convert him a winner from a loser.
Let us start from the beginning .
PNR value, measured in cms., - one or two hours before the first race, indicates the quality – nature or kind of racing surface on that day ‘at that time’, meaning that it can change within a short period (few hours - due to sunshine, or few minutes– due to rains).
In India only few race clubs ,viz., Mumbai/Pune and Bangalore/Mysore and now Hyderabad, use and publish the values of this parameter . In foreign countries race clubs take an average of as many as 30 readings of the entire course , while Mumbai/ Pune take the average of 4 to 6 readings along the length of the course, Bangalore and Mysore, most probably, depend on the value taken at the winning post and therefore, the PNR values provided by Mumbai/Pune will be more authentic as it covers the entire course. Other centers do not publish these values.
The racing surface (track) ‘going’ based on PNR readings may be divided in various categories, enumerated below :
1) hard to firm (fast ) - dry with minimum moisture and smooth & even surface
2) good (semi fast) – dry with some moisture – an almost ideal surface
3) soft – wet , water has gone to second or lower layers
4) sloppy – during or immediately after heavy rain, water yet to soak in
5) muddy – soft and wet with pools of water
6) heavy –a drying track – between muddy and good
7) slow – worse than heavy
8) off – an ‘off’ is any track condition other than good or fast
These are not sacrosanct or watertight categories and overlap each other and can be fairly divided in three categories – good, not so good and bad !!
It is now obvious that harder the surface , lesser will be the PNR value and therefore this value can be a pointer to the chances of some runners ,e.g., progenies of Burden of Proof and Pennine Ridge perform better on a sloppy and muddy track .
While PNR value in western India varies from 1.2 cms. to 2.7 cms. and mostly hovers between 1.5 to 2.2 , in Bangalore and Mysore it is divided as follows :
1) up to 2.5 cms. – firm going
2) 2.6 to 5.5 cms. –good going
3) 5.6 to 6.5cms –soft going
4)more than 6.5 cms. – heavy going
In my opinion the wide span of 3 cms ( 2.6 to 5.5 cms.) for good going is a bit more as an increase of even 0.2 or 0.3cm slows down the final time of a consistent runner appreciably .
PNR value helps in calculating the speed and pace ratings as well as the track variant and though these topics are beyond the scope of this small article , let me conclude with some relevant examples where PNR values will be a help to a punter .
I have selected 3 yr. old races at 1200m because they carry same weight and are not normally hooked…
Bangalore summer 2007
Race no……….PNR value……….final time
these values show that PNR values are intricately related to the final timings of a race and must be considered during handicapping a past performance but they are no pointers to the future .for pointers we must look closely .
we will just take 2 examples
Bourbon King , a 3 y old at Bangalore track with PNR 3.5(Bng 2006/07- race 126) clocked 1m 12.3s while Haunting Memories- (class I ) in race 159 (PNR 2.8) clocked 1m 12. 57 for the same distance of 1200m indicating the superiority of Bourbon King . Few days later , on 25th. Feb same Bourbon King had won Poonawalla Million at odds of 9/2 beating very hyped Our Excellence…a 3 yo on a ‘softer’(viewed from Mumbai standard) track condition (PNRvalue- 2.8), clocking better and faster time than a class I horse must be given due consideration….
Mumbai races 2006/07- 5 yo mare Atmosphere – won race nos. 5 ,53, 130 & short head II in 187
Race no 5 carried 56.5 kg. clocked 1m 11.9s at PNR 2.2
Race no 53 carried 54 kg. and clocked 1m 12.6s AT PNR VALUE 2.5
Race no 130 carried 53.5 kg. clocked 1m12.2 s at PNR 2.1
Race no 187 carried 57.5kg. clocked 1m 11.7s at PNR2.0
Thus with an increase of 0.5cm in PNR value a consistent runner clocks a slower time of almost 0.9s, confirming the close relationship of PNR value and the final time.
Following observations prove a close correlation between the PNR values and the final timings of a race. PNR values for Pune and Mumbai tracks normaly move within a range of 1.5 to 2.5 and any value less or more invariably reflects in the final result . And to prove its affect on the final time of a race I’ll give only one example. On 15 Oct 06, on Pune track 2 new records were set up by Evatina for 1200m (1m 8.83s) and by Secret Memory for 2000m(2m 2.1s) on the same day and the PNR value was 1.3 indicating a very fast track condition . on 29 Oct on the same track Sovereign Power had established another record for 1400m(1m 22.57s) and the value of PNR on that day was 1.4 All these observations prove the empirical relationship between penetrometer readings and final timings returned by runners.