What is all-weather racing?

In short, all-weather racing is horse racing on artificial, or synthetic, surfaces as opposed to natural turf. The prospect of all-weather racing in Britain was first discussed following the very cold, snowy winter of 1984/85, but the inaugural meeting was staged at Lingfield Park, on the pioneering ‘Equitrack’ surface, on October 30, 1989.

Over the last three-and-a-half decades, all-weather racing has grown in popularity, such that it is nowadays staged not only at Lingfield Park, but also at five other racecourses, namely Chelmsford City (formerly Great Leighs), Kempton Park, Newcastle, Southwell and Wolverhampton. Indeed, all-weather racing now constitutes about one fifth of the British fixture list. All six all-weather racecourses have received significant investment and provide competitive racing. Indeed, the All-Weather Championships, inaugurated in 2013, nowadays encompass over 200 fixtures from October onwards and culminate in a lucrative, high-profile ‘Finals Day’ at Newcastle on Good Friday.

In Britain, all-weather racing takes place on just two artificial surfaces, namely Polytrack, which is wax-coated mixture of sand and other components, and Tapeta, which is a revision of Polytrack, crafted to imitate the root structure of natural grass. Polytrack is the choice of Chelmsford City, Kempton Park and Lingfield, while Newcastle, Southwell and Wolverhampton race on Tapeta. Going descriptions on Polytrack and Tapeta are not the same as those on turf, but the terms ‘fast’, ‘standard’ and ‘slow’ are used to reflect the amount of moisture in the racing surface and, hence, the likely race times that can achieved.