Can Horse Racing be Cancelled Due to Rain

March 3, 2022

If you've placed a bet on the racing and heavy rain is forecast, you might be wondering if "can horse racing be cancelled due to rain?"

The simple answer is, yes, if the safety of the horses and jockeys are at risk. 

In this post, we'll take a look at what heavy and false ground is, and how the location of the race track can make a difference. We'll also look at the effect thunderstorms have on horse races and meets.

What is Heavy Ground in Racing?

The term heavy ground is used to describe a track, that's made from turf, when it has been tremendously softened by water, normally rain.

Due to how soft the ground is due to all the rain, it's difficult for the horses to run on. It's said to be 'heavy going'. It takes the horses much longer to run around. So if it's 'heavy going' expect a slow race and horses that like heavy ground to have a better race.

Since 2009, the going has been determined using the ‘GoingStick’. The reading is based on the amount of moisture present in the ground.


The GoingStick

The device developed by Cranfield University and TurfTrax measures the relative softness or hardness of the ground

Heavy going is a measurement of 5.2 to 5.7 and firm going is measured between 9.9 and 10.00.


Are Races on Heavy Ground Cancelled?

No, just because the ground is 'heavy' and 'heavy going' for the horses the race won't be called off but more horses may be non-runners.

Owners and trainers won't risk running a horse on ground they don't run well on. 


How To Bet on Heavy Ground?

One angle some bettors like to exploit is betting on heavy ground.

The form guides often tell you if a horse has won or run well on heavy ground. You can use this to decide which horses to avoid betting on if they don't run well on heavy ground. Likewise, if one horse stands out as running well when the going is heavy you might be swayed to bet on them. 

This is usually a tactic that works well during the jumps season as it tends to rain more over the winter. Also National Hunt Horses tend to have careers that last longer than sprinters, so you have more stats to look at. 

The tricky thing is when none of the horses in the race have run on heavy ground in a race before. this is when you need to watch the market movers as trainers may have run their horses in the paddock on the wet terrain and know how they perform. 

What is False Ground?

After there has been lots of rain, the rain floating on top of the course can have drained away in most places, but some area's can still be extremely boggy. These are can be very dangerous for riders and horses.

On some occasions, if there are divots or other obstacles the term could be extended to include these. Again these can be dangerous to the horses. 

If the false ground is revealed the races will be cancelled. 

Races are Postponed During Thurnderstorms

To keep horses and jockeys safe if a thunderstorm passes by, the race will be postponed until the weather has departed. If the T-storm was to deposit so much rain the course was waterlogged or it gave rise to false ground the race would be cancelled. 

Location, Location

Some courses are more prone to races being cancelled to other locations. Those courses that are next to rivers, like Nottingham, Worcester, Bangor-on-Dee can be flooded when the nearby rivers burst their banks. 

In Summary

If it's raining or heavy rain is forecast, it doesn't necessarily mean that the race will be cancelled. However, if there has been a lot of rain and the course is waterlogged in places or false ground is found then the race will be cancelled. 

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