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Why SA Harness Racing

Harness racing, also colloquially known as trotting, is an important spectator sport in Australia, with large amounts of money wagered annually with Tattsbet.com (SA TAB) and corporate bookmakers. In Australia there are 91 harness racing tracks, which hold over 1,900 meetings annually. There are approximately 2,900 drivers and 4,000 trainers with about 4,000 standard bred horses foaled and registered each year.

Harness racing in Australia is conducted with Standardbred horses racing around a track while pulling a driver in a two wheeled cart called a “sulky", "gig" or "bike". Standardbred racehorses compete in two gaits, pacing and trotting, and trotters may enter pacing events, but not vice versa. Pacers contest 80% to 90% of Australian harness races. Races are conducted in an anti-clockwise direction generally over distances from 1,609 metres (1 mile) to 2,650 metres, although some races are run over longer distances. Harness racing tracks typically measure from 700 to 1,000 metres.

Racing is administered by Harness Racing Australia (HRA) (formerly known as the Australian Harness Racing Council), with each State’s Principal Racing Authority agreeing to abide by, and to enforce the rules and regulations. Harness Racing South Australia Ltd is this State’s Principal Racing Authority.

Race meetings are often conducted at night, with many major metropolitan meetings held on Friday and Saturday nights. Standardbred racing in Australia differs slightly from American racing, in that it uses the metric system to measure distances and there are often more starters in a race.

Races are started in one of two ways, either from behind a mobile barrier, using a mobile start or behind tapes from a standing start. The mobile barrier is usually a car or ute with two long arms, behind which the horses line up before moving to the starting line. The barrier may cover the entire track and in some cases the mobile can be ten horses wide. When the wings of the gate swing back, the starting vehicle speeds off, thus releasing the horses. This is the most common method of starting pacers and trotters in Australia.

A standing start is made where horses stand flat footed behind an elastic tape that is connected across the track. Usually there are multiple tapes across the track at 10 or 5 metre intervals; this allows handicappers to handicap horses. This may be done on wins in certain classes or on a discretionary basis. Both pacers and trotters races are conducted from standing starts.

Harness racing is a great sport that all people can participate in whether you love the majesty of the horses, or the thrill of gaming, or just like to relax and enjoy people watching in well-manicured surroundings, then going to the racetrack and watching harness racing is the ideal recreational activity. The horses reach speeds of more than 50km. To really feel the power of the horses, watch the races from the fence, which is as close as you can get to the action without actually driving in the race. It is an exciting thrill to see the horses strive to do what they do best—go fast and win.

What makes harness racing great is that anyone can get involved. With a small investment, you can own a harness horse, and with the proper licence, anyone can train or drive a Standardbred themselves! Even if you can’t afford to own or train a horse, you can get up close and personal with the horses and drivers right at the racetrack.

Your first time to a racetrack can be both exciting and overwhelming. Whether it’s your very first time, or you haven’t been to the races in years, there will be unfamiliar sights and sounds, but once you get around, you’ll find that the racetrack is truly one of the most unique and captivating entertainment venues around. The viewing area for racing is usually divided into different areas: the grandstand, outdoor seating and dining areas. The outdoor and parade ring viewing area allows track visitors to sit in more casual surroundings and enjoy food more served from fast food outlets. The Grandstand dining requires reservations. When you walk into the facility you will see TVs on the walls broadcasting racing and betting information from all over the world to give the punter more wagering options from which to choose.