Harness racing, also known as trotting, is a form of horse racing, which has great importance in the Australian sports betting scene. Harness racing differs from traditional horseracing as riders are pulled on carts rather than ride atop the horses. Horses race at a trot or pace and are not allowed to run at a full gallop. Pacing races are much more common than trotting races in Australia, and constitute about 85% of all events. Specialised trotting horses may enter pacing events, however pacers may not enter trotting events. If a horse breaks its stride during a race, it must move aside until the rider has full control over the horse’s gait.
Australian harness races include standardbred horses, a breed which is specially reared for its ability to race in a harness at a certain stride. These horses have a more powerful build than the thoroughbreds used in horseracing, and are better suited to trotting and pacing rather than galloping.
Instead of jockeys, riders contend harness races. Their horse is on a lightweight, two-wheeled cart known as a sulky or bike pulls a rider. Riders carry whips to signal horses and help them keep control of pace.
Australian harness races are generally held between 1,600 and 2,650 metres. The weight of the rider and cart do not impact the horse as much as those running at full gallop in a classic horserace. Therefore handicaps based on weight do not exist in harness races. Instead, the handicap system of a harness race is based on distance. A handicapped horse will have a starting line which is further back than the other horses.
Harness race betting is very popular amongst punters in Australia. The sport offers a different type of excitement that regular horseracing cannot provide. Some of the major upcoming events this year are the Barastoc Grand Circuit Series, the Australasian Pacers Grand Circuit, the Victoria Cup and the Inter Dominion Pacing Championship. If you would like to get involved and put some money on any of these events, take a look at some of the betting options available to you.