Guide To All Weather Racing All Weather racing is very common on the UK Fixture List. We almost have a daily meeting now. Six tracks use All Weather racing surfaces and there’s a huge difference between each track.
Let’s go through the six tracks and explain the differences…
Lingfield hosts the All Weather Racing Championships each year. It has the best reputation of all the All Weather tracks in the UK, but there can be a lot of hard luck stories on the short run-in here.
The surface they use at Lingfield is Polytrack. Because of the short run-in, Lingfield usually suits speedy horses and it is generally believed that you “can’t win” from the front. That’s why we see so many fast finishes with the jockeys leaving it very late! The track is slightly downhill, which only adds to the speed element and it’s fair to say that Lingfield is the fastest All Weather track.
Newcastle is the newest All Weather track in the UK, changing their surface and opening in the 2015/16 winter season. They have managed to keep the Northumberland Plate meeting which is now an All Weather race, and that probably makes it the second most important All Weather track.
Newcastle uses a Tapeta surface and usually suits staying types because it has such a long straight. It’s unusual to find a straight mile on an All Weather track but Newcastle has just that!
Wolverhampton also uses a Tapeta surface like Newcastle, however that wasn’t always the case. Before they changed to Tapeta they used Firbesand and after that Polytrack – no other track has changed so much!
Wolverhampton is a tight oval track which suits speedy horses but unlike Lingfield, the general feeling is that you need a handy position towards the front so you can get a clear run to kick when they turn in.
Kempton is best known for the King George over fences on Boxing Day, however they replaced their flat track with Polytrack in 2006. You see some top quality flat horses race at Kempton, and they hold far better races than say the likes of Wolverhampton. Perhaps their location benefits them with trainers, however it’s viewed as a very good All Weather track.
Kempton is a very flat racecourse with a tight oval track, however it has two finishes – the inner and outer. Inner really needs a speedy horse whereas you can slightly get away with it on the outer. You can see some very late and fast finishes here, but it’s generally viewed that it’s better to be handy to get a good position for the finish.
Chelmsford used to be called Great Leighs, but that didn’t last very long. They use a Polytrack surface and trainers have sent some very good horses here. It’s generally viewed as a nice place to send younger horses and there are very rarely hard luck stories.
Trainers view Chelmsford has a very fair course with big bends and plenty of room in the straight. If you get boxed in here, it’s usually because of a poor ride rather than the track. It’s a very straightforward oval shaped track with lots of room to make your challenge.
Southwell is the only track that uses Fibresand and you get very testing races there. It really suits stayers and you need stamina if you’re going to win at Southwell. Front runners have a big advantage here because of the bad kickback, and you tend to get horses that love Southwell and those that hate it!
Southwell probably has to most course specialists of all the All Weather tracks. Fibresand is much like heavy ground on grass and most finishes are usually a battle up the long Southwell straight. You need to be tough to win at Southwell.
What Are The Main Differences Between Polytrack, Tapeta and Fibresand?
The best and easiest way to understand what All Weather tracks are like is to compare them to what the ground would be like on grass racing.
Polytrack and Tapeta are very similar to each other. Most trainers like Polytrack as its viewed as a very fair surface. It has little kickback, no jar and it’s a fast surface. It would be very similar to Good ground on turf, perhaps even good to firm.
Tapeta is also viewed as a good surface to race on, with very little kickball and those in the industry say it’s very versatile and suits a lot more horses. It’s essentially good ground.
Southwell is the only course to use Fibresand and its pretty much what soft to heavy ground would be like on turf. It’s slow and very testing. There’s a lot of kickback at Southwell so you do get horses who don’t enjoy their racing there while most horses would happily race on Polytrack or Tapeta. However, much like horses who love heavy ground – you do get horses who love Southwell!