We have at the moment four all-weather tracks and we also have three different types of surface, so lets go through them one at a time.
Southwell has Fibresand which is the slowest of the three surfaces and equates to a horse running on good to soft ground on grass and the surface hasnt been altered since it was first laid.
Kempton is using Polytrack which is roughly like good-good to firm going and it does have some good class races run here including some classic trials. I don't think they should have been allowed to keep such good races when the course decided to get rid of their grass course and installed an artificial surface. I know this isn't what this blog is really about but just because a horse wins or runs well in a classic trial on this surface doesn't give any justifiable reason that the horse will do just as well on grass. I think they changed to the all-weather to get more meetings but also wanted to keep all their high-grade classic trial races, they wanted the best of both worlds and have been allowed to get away with it but to me its taken away a chance for the punter to see what a horse can do before it came to the classics.
Lingfield used to have the Polytrack surface but have changed to a newer version as it evolved and have changed again with a surface called Tapeta and this does seem to be the fastest surface and must equate to good to firm or even firm going on grass. This course does also have some good grade races during the winter months and most notably the Winter Derby. This race is not in my distance range but there is also some decent sprint races.
Wolverhampton originally had Fibresand but they wasn't too keen on it when they realised the surface at Lingfiled was so much faster, so they relaid the course with the Polytrack material but they put it on top of their old surface, it was a bit faster but still not as fast as they wanted so they then laid the newer version of Polytrack on top of the two layers that were already on the course. This was a big mistake and the three layers made it too deep even when the weather was fine but when it rained the surface was dire and the times were very slow but they have relaid it again but this time they removed all the old material and laid the course with Tapeta and the times, recently, have improved dramatically.
So now as a punter we can accept the times at Lingfield and Wolverhampton are quite close to each other and if a horse gets a rating at one track it should be able to repeat the same sort of mark at the other.
I would put Kempton in with the other two and accept a rating at one track should be replicated at either of the other two.
Southwell has to be a stand-alone track. The surface is definitely slower and ratings achieved here cannot be guaranteed to be repeated at any of the other three. This does make it easier for me to compare times with individual horses against each other but in my opinion it would be better if all four tracks had the same fastest material, at the moment that's Tapeta, and any new tracks coming into the all weather sphere will hopefully have it as well.