Ask a racing trainer or jockey, or a professional bettor, which is the best all-weather track in Britain and they'll likely tell you Lingfield or Kempton or perhaps Newcastle or even Chelmsford. What they won't say is Southwell. But all that looks about to change with the debut this tea time of the Rolleston venue's new tapeta surface.
It has been widely held that, conformationally, Southwell is the best oval in British all-weather racing, but its fibresand surface was a thoroughly marmite affair for horsemen and women, and their horses. To succeed on the fibresand you needed a relentless galloper who could either get out in front or stomach the fierce kickback.
But the fibresand is no more, and the best all-weather course layout is now married to a 'latest generation' version of tapeta that has been wooing all-comers in racing trials in recent weeks. And, from four o'clock this afternoon, we'll all be able to see for ourselves how it rides.
Here at geegeez.co.uk we're mindful that the surface change is material. To that end, we've introduced a new 'surface' filter on both Full Form and Profiler. These filters allow users to see how a horse has performed on the various different synthetic cushions as well as turf.
You'll find the Full Form surface filter in the 'Course' block:
Selecting it will show only those form lines on a corresponding surface. In the case of Southwell now, that means only tapeta past performances:
Profiler also now differentiates between surfaces:
Still to come
I'm aware that as a consequence of the surface change, historical draw and run style biases - as well as sectional pars - may now be redundant. But they also might not. Moreover, it is likely that in the short term there will be a 'bedding in' period which may not reflect any longer-term draw and/or pace prejudices that come to pass. With that in mind, I'm loathe to simply start again from zero but, depending on how the first few weeks - and perhaps months - go, we may add the surface stipulation to our historical Southwell draw/pace tables and charts, and to our par calculations.
With regards to the Draw and Pace Analyser tools, there is no intention to change those. Users looking to explore Southwell performance there should, in due course, select the year 2022 to [another future year]. This will display all tapeta data bar meetings between now and year end, five fixtures in all.
The feeling from the trial day is that the surface may still favour led and prominent early run styles, so it will be interesting to see if that plays out.
Hopefully that all makes sense. Any questions, please ask in the comments below.