If you have heard people talking about going allowance before but been unsure what it is, today I want to make sure you know all about it. If you know what a going allowance is but wonder why it is different on different sites, then I am also going to clear that up.
In fact, I am intending to clear up all your questions about going allowance in todays article.
The going allowance is a crucial calculation that takes place in the creation of speed ratings. Different ground conditions may speed up or slow down horses. For example, a heavy going will slow horses down because the ground is softer and hard to run on. Whereas firm going will speed them up because the ground is solid.
Because speed ratings are time based ratings, in order for us to be able to compare ratings across races with different going conditions, we need to make sure that we have adjusted them for the going on the day of the race.
In the UK we do not have a good way of measuring the ground conditions. It is an assessment made by the course officials on the morning of the race and then this may be commented on by the jockeys throughout the race day if it changes.
The going stick was invented to try and cure this problem. It is a stick which is put into the ground and measures the level of moisture in the soil. while this is more consistent than the officials opinion, it does also not solve the problem. What the going stick does not take into account is the different types of soil and how much water it can hold and how this affects the ground. For example a clay based soil can be very moist but still quite firm whereas a softer soil will become muddy with just a small amount of moisture.
The most common method of calculating going allowance is based around standard times. We do not have time to go into the standard time calculations in this article, but you can consider it as the average time we expect a race to be run.
Each day, for each course, we take the fastest races, ideally those with runners that have got some good experience. We take the finish times for these races and see how much slower than the standard time they are. We average the difference between the fastest race times and the standard time and this becomes our going allowance.
The going allowance is then used to adjust the finishing times of each horse in the race because we know how many seconds slower or faster the race was run based on the going.
So why are the going allowances different on different websites?
Everybody calculates their own standard times. The more accurate the standard times, then the better the speed rating will be. Because different companies create different standard times, and we measure the going allowance from the standard times, different sites will have different going allowances.
It has been a while since I have tested different websites standard times, as I make my own, which means that I cannot tell you who has the best. However, I would imagine that Timeform still rates amongst the best.