Updates to Racing Surface Preparation Guidelines announced

Racing Victoria (RV) has today announced updates to its Racing Surface Preparation Guidelines which specify the preferred track ratings for flat and jumps races conducted in Victoria.

The guidelines, which will take effect at the start of the 2019-20 racing season, have been the subject of a review with feedback received from many stakeholders including clubs, track managers, owners, trainers, jockeys, punters, wagering operators, stewards and vets.

The updates to be implemented for the new racing season recognise the industry’s need and commitment to provide racing surfaces where the welfare of competing horses is central to their preparation.

From 1 August 2019, all Victorian clubs will be requested to prepare the following racing surface for flat races:

  • A track that is prepared with give in the interests of horse welfare;
  • A track with a rating of ‘Good’ for all races;

In seeking to prepare their racing surface in accordance with the guidelines, Clubs will be requested to:

  • Prepare a track that is a ‘Good 4’ for at least the first race of the meeting;
  • Prepare a track that is never a ‘Firm’ rating; and
  • Not place compliance with the guidelines in advance of an accurate track rating.

The current guidelines, which were last updated in 2014, state that the preferred track rating for flat races is a ‘Good 3’ with a requirement that tracks not be presented to race as a ‘Firm 2’ or any firmer.

Prior to 2014, the guidelines stated that the preferred track rating for flat races was a ‘Good 3’ for the majority of the meeting, thus allowing for a minority of races to be conducted with a ‘Firm’ rating.

RV Executive General Manager – People, Infrastructure and Clubs, Jamie McGuinness, said: “After consultation with industry stakeholders, we are releasing updated Racing Surface Preparation Guidelines for the 2019-20 season that further the industry’s commitment to the welfare of its horses and the safety of its participants.

“In arriving at the guidelines for next season, we have considered the views of each stakeholder group, in particular the overwhelming view from trainers charged with managing the welfare of our horses and track managers charged with presenting racing surfaces across a 12-month period through vastly different climates.

“As part of the review, the ATA conducted detailed research with trainers and 85% of those surveyed indicated that they would like softer tracks presented in the best interests of their horses. This aligned with veterinary research which affirms that the risk of injuries increases with an increased firmness of tracks.

“In making amendments to the guidelines, we’ve had to balance the welfare of horses and the wishes of trainers against maintaining the health of our racetracks which do experience increased wear and tear the wetter they are.

“From 1 August 2019, track managers are being asked to ensure that they provide a ‘Good’ racing surface with sufficient give. To ensure that the racing surface carries sufficient give throughout the course of a race meeting, track managers have been requested to provide a ‘Good 4’ track for at least the first race of the meeting.

“In releasing these guidelines, we recognise that the preparation of racing surfaces is not an exact science and that the different characteristics of each track and prevailing weather conditions will have an impact on how a track is presented.”

Australian Trainers Association (ATA) Chief Executive, Andrew Nicholl, said: “The review of the guidelines has been a very thorough process and we’re pleased that Racing Victoria has seen fit to continue a trend towards the presentation of racetracks with more give.

“The response from our members was loud and clear that they wanted more give in our tracks to help them manage their horses through their racing campaigns, particularly in the days following a race.

“We know it is always challenging for track managers to present the ideal surface due to a variety of factors, none the least our weather. We think these updated guidelines strike a balance between the wishes of trainers and the need for clubs to maintain their racing surfaces year-round.”

The review also endorsed the position reached in early 2019 and now included in the Australian Rules of Racing that the track rating for jumps racing must be no firmer than a ‘Soft 5’ and that races will not be held on tracks rated ‘Good’ or ‘Firm’.

Click here to view the full Racing Surface Preparation Guidelines.