Mike Dillon: Track conditions heavy 27', sorry I mean heavy 11'

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Horseracing track. Photo / Getty Images
Horseracing track. Photo / Getty Images

It's time we had another look at how we rate our track conditions.

It's no secret that for some time we've had dissatisfaction with our current classification of wet winter tracks.

That's particularly true of the "heavy 11" classification.

A handful of years ago we changed from a penetrometer band rating to a 1 to 11 rating, and as an aside, why we have differing ratings from Australia remains a mystery.

A question often asked - with plenty of justification - is why stop at an 11 rating for the heaviest category?

The current official explanation of a heavy 11 is: "Very soft and wet, the heaviest category."

Fine. We've had some heavy 11s in the past month, Ellerslie last Saturday, for example.

It was deep and testing, but not bottomless (although Buckles and Rogan Norvall would argue that).

The week before at Counties we saw a heavy 10 rating and the R75 horses ran 1200m in a very respectable 1.13.19.

Move forward to a heavy 11 (or so categorised) at Te Aroha on Wednesday.

Te Aroha was officially rated at a heavy 11 when nominations were taken the previous week. The course had 10ml of rain on Sunday night, only 2.5ml on Monday evening, but then 13ml on Tuesday night.

Difficult to assess what fell during Wednesday's races, but at one point, around Race 4, you could barely see the other side of the track.

Australians must have laughed watching the last five races, where jockeys headed straight to the outside running rail and raced best in the tractor tyre tracks. Is that really racing?

If we had a system that went beyond an 11 rating, most of Wednesday's jockeys would have guessed at something close to 15.

Stipendiary stewards can upgrade a track from a heavy 11, but not downgrade regardless of how much rain arrives. Why?

Surely there are degrees of extremely heavy from 11, which could be "okay they'll struggle and you need a fit horse", to 15, which is "flippers and snorkels may be required", to 23, which is (sorry about this) "keep your money in your pocket".

What happened to the oldtime ratings in the heavy range of "sticky", "wet and heavy", "slushy".

You could argue not all punters have time to analyse that degree of information, but some do.

Trentham would have made a mockery of the heavy 11 had its meeting for today not been abandoned yesterday.

Trentham was a heavy 11 last weekend then had days of 36ml, 22ml, 28ml followed by 75ml on Thursday night.

In one week 186ml of rain fell on Trentham and it was still rated "heavy 11".

Solid rain fell in Wellington yesterday and last night and more was predicted today.

Trentham was a "heavy 27" ... sorry, "heavy 11".

- NZ Herald

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