Heavy ground in horse racing is a phrase used to describe a turf track that has been massively softened by water, normally rain. It’s ground that is also heavy going for the horses that have to run through it, with horse races on heavy ground taking much longer to run than horse races run on better ground.
How Is The Going Determined As Heavy Ground?
For many years, it was up to the clerk of the course to determine what the going was before a horse racing meeting began by whatever means necessary. However, as race times often suggested that these readings were inconsistent at best, the British Horse Racing Association (BHA) invented a way of making going descriptions more consistent.
This invention was the ‘GoingStick’ and it is a device that enables clerks to give numerical readings that reflect the state of the going consistently at all racecourses. The GoingStick was developed over a five-year period in a joint venture between TurfTrax and Cranfield University and it was trialed extensively before being implemented by the BHA in 2009.
Heavy going is normally measured at between 5.2 and 5.7 on the going stick while, at the other extreme of the scale, firm going is measured between 9.9 and 10.00.
Should I Bet On Horse Racing When The Going Is Heavy?
Everyone is always looking for an angle when it comes to betting on horse racing, and betting when the ground is heavy is another angle you can exploit if you know what you’re doing.
The formbook will often tell you when a horse has won or run well on heavy ground and you can use this to your advantage if there are doubts about other horses performing to their best under such conditions. This is normally much easier in jump racing, as lots of races tend to take place on heavy ground during the winter months. National hunt horses also tend to have much longer careers on average than flat horses, so there’s is more time to work them out and more opportunities where you can take advantage of understanding heavy-ground form.
However, you will get races over the jumps where none of the horses have previously run on heavy ground. This is often when it pays to watch market movers, with some trainers possible having worked their horses on heavy ground at home. The other angle is the sires of the horses in question, with some sires being strong influences when it comes to producing winners on heavy ground.
National Hunt Sires That Produce Heavy Ground Winners
A notable quartet of sires have become renowned for producing winners of high-class races when the ground rides heavy in recent seasons. One of these is Saddler Maker, whose most famous mud-lark is the dual Betfair Chase winner Bristol De Mai. The performance of the Nigel Twiston-Davis trained grey horse when pulverizing the field by over 50-lengths to win his first Betfair Chase is one of the highest-rated performances of the last few years.
Other notable horses sired by Saddler Maker in the last few years include multiple Grade 1 winner Apple’s Jade, while Janika is another horse that runs in the same colours as Bristol De Mai that has shown a liking for heavy conditions.
Voix du Nord is another sire of heavy-ground winners, and Defi Du Seuil has been one of his best recent horses, winning twice at the Cheltenham Festival and the Grade 1 Tingle Creek Chase.
Walk In The Park is best remembered for finishing second in the Derby to Motivator when the ground was riding on the soft side, and he’s gone on to become a sire of top-class jumps horses. Douvan and Min are his two offspring with the biggest profiles, and both have won on heavy ground.
Benie des Dieux is a mare that’s proven best on heavy ground, conditions she encountered when lowering the colours of the top-rated French Hurdler when winning the French Champion Hurdle. Her sire is Great Pretender who has returned an excellent level-stakes profit from his runners on heavy ground.
Heavy Ground Flat Sires To Watch
Heavy ground isn’t synonymous with flat racing, but rain can change the going description at any time. Bookmakers normally love ground changes, as early-bird punters often do their money if the ground changes.
But the progeny of one sire that could be worth noting when the rain arrives is those of Belardo, a former Group 1 winner that was at his best when the mud was flying.
How Do I Pick Heavy Ground Winners?
There are several websites that offer lots of horse racing statistics for free, while others will charge you a fee for racecards containing trends, analysis, and predictions. However, if you use these tools, you will still need to have a great knowledge of horse racing to know what to do to so with such information regarding picking winners and making a profit from horse racing.
If you struggle to pick regular winners on heavy ground, or just can’t make a profit from horse racing generally, you may wish to subscribe to the services of provenly profitable horse racing tipsters. This type of service will do all the work for you when it comes to scouring the formbook for horses that go on the forecast ground, whether it’s heavy or not.
They also work out whether a horse is good enough, well handicapped enough, and drawn well enough to take advantage of its optimum ground conditions. Having taken such things into consideration, they’ll work out whether the odds over any value, meaning they’re bigger than the probability of it winning.
Add in advice about having a betting bank and a staking plan, and it’s easy to see why it’s better to spend a small subscription fee than many hours trying to pick your own winners. Many horse racing tipsters will even offer you a cut-price trial to see if you like what they have to offer.
We hope that’s answered your question, what does heavy ground mean in horse racing. If you want to know more information about horse racing, you’ll find lots of explainer articles here on our blog.