When you say harness racing to most people they think it is the scurry racing that they see at horse of year show. It could not be more different!
It is an adrenaline packed sport which is getting more competitive each year with higher standards of horses being imported. If you were to compare the sport to anything it would be flat racing. The horses have to be Standardbreds to race which came from the Thoroughbreds foundation stallions. They originally got the name from setting a standard time over a mile trotting. Harness racing is popular word wide, in America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Sweden, Norway, Italy, and France. Over here it is a fast growing sport especially in Wales where it gets televised live.
The horses ‘pace’ which means they trot laterally allowing them to go faster than trotting, racing at 30-35mph. Amazing to say flat horses are going two gaits faster and are only going 40mph! The odd things you see round their legs are ‘hopples’ which make sure the horses reach their maximum stride length and prevents them from ‘breaking’ into canter or gallop. The horses pull a sulky. They are light weight usually weighing 40lbs. The jockey also called drivers come in all shapes and sizes. Saddle racing has been reintroduced this year in the U.K. The horses are raced on grass tracks and hard tracks. There are five hard tracks in the U.K just for harness racing but they do race at Wolverhampton and Musselburgh thoroughbred tracks too. Instead on starting in static gates, they start behind a running gate. This allows the horses to get up to speed but causes some horses to break due to the excitement.
Great day out for all the family and children go free!! Bookmakers, bar, catering. The first Hereford & Borders Racing Club meet is the 23rd June 2pm at Allensmore, one not to be missed.
Follow the Hereford & Borders Racing club on twitter @HBHRC for more information
By Victoria Allen