WHY do the Jockey Club find it impossible to accurately assess the state of the going? Adding to the long list of previous misleading going reports, the official 'good to firm' return for last Saturday's meeting at Sha Tin represents yet another flight of fancy. Nobody seriously expects perfect advance reports but the race times of the first two contests at the weekend simply shouted firm ground to any sensible observer who was willing to take notice. In the opening Kelly Handicap, Good Choice scored in a slick one minute and 10.8 seconds, lowering the 1,200-metre Class Five best by 0.3 of a second. Just half an hour later Active Dragon cut a massive 0.7 of a second off the Class Six 1,400-metre record set by Flamme d'Or in September. Yes, the Laurie Fownes-trained galloper was still officially a Class Five animal. But the fact that the four-year-old shouldered four pounds more than Flamme d'Or while running from only a point higher mark more than illustrates the lightening-fast nature of the track. Putting figures on the two performances makes the point even clearer. Employing a firm-ground going allowance, Good Choice has been credited with a healthy Topspeed rating of 39. He raced off a handicap mark of just 25. Active Dragon also earned a speed figure 14 points higher than his official race rating and is adjudged to have improved six pounds on his previous best with a new Topspeed of 33. If we believed the ground was in fact merely riding good to firm, we would not only have to accept Good Choice ran to a rating of around 60 and Active Dragon a figure of 44, but also the first eight home in each race improved on their previous best performances. Make no mistake, both were useful contests relative to class and should be kept an eye on with a view for future punts but it would be ridiculous to suggest that virtually every animal from the two races ran to a level of form at least equalling their previous best. As it is, in the opener the front four are all accepted as producing improved figures and, with runner-up Horse-Laugh rated 28, the third Esteemed 36 and fourth home Natural Wonder clocking a Topspeed rating of 32, it would surprise if those three didn't pay their way in the near future. The inability of the powers that be to accurately relay the state of the going is a worry for punter, owner and trainer alike. If it is not a simple case of incompetence, the more cynical observer may suggest it is all part of a general unwillingness to reflect the true deplorable state of the sandmesh track. Following the tragic loss of Gazebo Star, Patrick Biancone made no bones as to the dangers of training on a hard surface and that sentiment counts double for races. The more often a horse is pushed to the limit on a firm ground, the greater the chances of injury and no authority would want to be seen to be regularly putting horses under risk from fast ground. Biancone is right. If the territory wants to be a real force on an international basis we have to get our act together and the first step is to face up to the realities of the surface we are running on. Repairing or replacing the threadbare sandmesh may not be easy but to reflect the correct state of the ground is. So, why do the Jockey Club find it impossible to accurately assess the state of the going?