Marburg racing is back. Picture: Rob Williams
Marburg racing is back. Picture: Rob Williams

Change to calendar year creates plenty of discussion


Denis Smith

THE peculiar decision announced below is supposedly justified by a desire to bring "important commercial, marketing and welfare across the industry".

It is necessary that devotees of the light harness sport/industry in Australia read and understand the ramifications in this move.

Ironically, on the day Australian Standardbreds would ordinarily be turning a year older, Harness Racing Australia (HRA) advise that the Racing Year (season), will be permanently changed to a calendar year from January 1, 2021.

Following consultation subsequent to HRA's decision to extend the current season to December 31, 2020 due to COVID-19, today's announcement was a recommendation emanating from the HRA Executive meeting of August 28, 2020 and subsequently approved by a two-thirds majority of HRA Members.

Changing the season permanently to a calendar year is intended to bring about a number of important commercial, marketing and welfare benefits across the industry. Most noticeably from the outset will be some major changes to the Feature Race Calendar, with the traditionally condensed season-end juvenile features able to be staggered throughout the year, with the space for States and Clubs to build momentum for promotion, wagering, visiting horses and interest in the sport.

As all horses will now turn a year older on January 1 each year, the additional four-months provided for due to the racing year change can also benefit the education, training and confidence of young horses preparing for their racing careers. With the current two-year old January to August racing season being extended under the changes, pressure on young horses to maintain performance for end of season features can be alleviated.

Programs can now provide feature races throughout the year and more developed two-year old's in feature racing. While this provides more opportunities for more horses to compete in feature juvenile races, this can also establish an important foundation for a stronger racing base to sustain a program of racing more often and for longer for the future.

From a commercial perspective, moving the traditional end of season juvenile features to spring and summer provides harness racing a great opportunity to showcase itself in the warmer weather, where it is expected that an increase in promotion and marketability will result in larger crowds and ultimately larger turnover nationally on harness racing. HRA, along with the State Controlling Bodies will continue to collaborate on the calendar and feature races, updating the Feature Race Calendar on the website regularly. Importantly, this change only affects the racing year - as the breeding season will remain as it is, starting on September 1 each year. As that is today, all at HRA extend their best wishes to all breeders, studs, veterinarians and AI technicians for a successful breeding season ahead.

One thing about it. The early two-year-olds will be pretty robust at about 28 months of age, when they begin to look for an easy juvenile event to aid their preparation for the sweeter plums to follow.

Perhaps the gurus who drafted the above policy change can see our wealthier owners slipping their over-age two and three-year-olds onto a plane to the United States to attack the traditional classics.

From the findings into an inquiry conducted by Harness Racing Victoria, into the overall beneficial effects of lengthy disqualifications for licencees who engage in corrupt practices, comes the following statement. It tells us just how it is.

Consistent with this, the HRV Sub-Committee that made recommendations to the HRV Board in relation to the Cramps exclusion from the industry observed: This industry is driven by off course turnover and if people think that it is not clean … it's not a clean set up well then they won't bet on it, (and) if they don't bet … everybody suffers from breeders, people who want to have foals, the people at yearling sales, the people who pre-agist, the people that break in, if horses are not there and the horse population is dropping, everybody suffers. People walk away from it … If you haven't got (betting) turnover, you haven't got a business.

We are getting closer to the road back every time a common sense statement from a Control Body is published. HRV is on the money.

Creating success stories

I HAVE spent a considerable part of my life in harness trying, not only to promote the sport, but to introduce new people into it, and, in the main part, failing to keep their interest alive.

I believe that there is an achievable goal with which to stimulate the interest of the harness curious folk.

Some of our more successful young drivers are buying property.

At the same time, they are buying horses.

From the outside fence, my observations indicate that, if some young driver takes out a mortgage on a property which can be serviced by his or her regular income, then buying a horse to train and race in their own interests becomes a gold plated exercise.

Lowest possible cost basis if the animal is competitive, and, at intervals a large lump of cash can be paid off the mortgage, resulting in outright ownership in a relatively short time.

I am aware that the above is a very simplistic sketch of the process but it should attract people who realise that ownership of property in this country guarantees independence and security. They are nice things to have.

Find the young people who own, train and drive a percentage of the horses they are associated with. You will be looking at success stories.

Honour board

THE same names at the top of the Ipswich harness totem pole. Pete McMullen was leading driver, adding four more to his massive lifetime total.

Darrell Graham and Chantal Turpin tied the training division with a brace of successes apiece. Most pleasing was Defensive Guy for Kay Crone, Trent Moffat in the cart. Ipswich factor: 17/51.

Albion Park, August 28: Will The Wizard (Pete McMullen for Chantal Turpin); Ideal World (Narissa McMullen); Fire Me Up (Pete McMullen for Chantal Turpin).

Albion Park, August 29: Northview Hustler (Hayden Barnes for Alistair Barnes); Coolie Kid (Matt Elkins for Donny Smith); Maywyns Best (Pete McMullen for Graham Dwyer); Gee Up Neddy (Hayden Barnes).

Redcliffe, August 30: Valoroso Hanover (Lachie Manzelmann for Ron Sallis); Montana Lad (Brittany Graham for Darrell Graham); Sixpenny Red (Pete McMullen for Graham Dwyer); The Last Starfire (Trent Moffat for Trent Hodges).

Albion Park, September 1: Defensive Guy (Trent Moffat for Kay Crone); Winkanitsover (Narissa McMullen for Ron Sallis).

Redcliffe, September 2: Risky Buziness (Trent Moffat for Ricky Gordon).

Redcliffe, September 3: Dancing In The Dark (Adam Sanderson for Darrell Graham); Too Good For You (Hayden Barnes for Lola Weidemann); Ali Downunder (Justin Elkins for Mal Charlton).

Handy tips

SELECTIONS for Albion Park Saturday night.

R1: Quinella 1-8: Our Bondi Beach (N Dawson) and Elms Creek (J Elkins).

R2: Box trifecta 1-8-9: Hard To Hear (T Dawson)-Bright Energy (S Graham)-Secretagent Tycoon).

R3: Box trifecta 1-4-8: Northview Hustler (H Barnes)-Subtle Delight (J Elkis)-Lilac Flash (K Rasmussen).

R4: Quinella 1-8: Love My Sister (S Graham) and Amazing Dream (K Rasmussen).

R5: E/w 2: Paravani (M Elkins).

R6: E/w 1: Classie American (G Dixon).

R7: E/w 3: One Off (G Dixon).

R8: E/w 1: Blue Moon Rising (D Graham).

R9: Quinella 2-8: Jeddy R Ya Reddy (K Rasmussen); Wee Man Trouble (A Sanderson).

R10: Box trifecta 1-6-7: Portsea Prince (T Dixon)-Jaziah (Z Chappenden)-Don Heston (G Dixon).

R11: E/w 8: Mach Torque (P McMullen).


Punting at the Marburg trots.
Punting at the Marburg trots.

Marburg preview for Sunday's meeting

Race 1: Tips 4-1-6.

GLENCOE REIGN: Might surprise.

ELLE JAY.: Likely leader, which always helps here.

GROOVY MISS ANNIE: Lousy draw, will run on if gets out.

Race 2: Tips 1-7-2.

LORD DENZEL: In form stable, great barrier, chance.

MISTER ROCKTOBER: Trained here, going well at Sunday jump outs.

DOMESTIC ART: Knows the track backwards, class drop.

Race 3: Tips 1-6-8.

ROCKIN TINGIRA: Inside alley, front running driver, every chance.

WHATA STRIDE: Draw no help, will go close if it gets out.

GIVE ME FIFTY: Form OK, strong, and can run on.

Race 4: Tips 7-1-8.

NIFTY STUDLEIGH: Gets cheap trail, will run on.

ONYA JANS: Form ordinary, but stable has been firing lately.

WESTERN SHOWGIRLL Has all the right form, top trainer, top driver, fit and ready.

Race 5: Tips 2-3-7.

BEEJAYS DELIGHT: Not overly quick out but can stick on.

HEADWIN: Generally goes forward, if led easy, would probably toss these.

SIXPENNY RED: Form slightly erratic, but capable of beating these on the right day.

Race 6: Tips 1-2-5.

GUTS: Great Redcliffe form, gate speed, and will hang on.

TEARAWAY DIAMOND: Strong stable, can do work and run on.

WANJIRU: Hasn't won for 12 months, but gets an easy run.

Race 7: Tips 1-2-6.

ALL GOOD WALLY: Last start winner Redcliffe, should be behind the leader in this, has to get out.

ROWDYS ACE: Form ordinary, but goes extra well here, likely leader.

OUR RIDGY DIDGE: Form great, draw dreadful, if he gets out, he's home.

Race 8: Tips 2-7-8.

MISS MIA: Solid form, top trainer, top driver.

COBALT BLUES: Last start winner Redcliffe, gets easy trip and can repeat.

IDEAL TIGER: Win and second in last three Albion Park starts, says he can round these up.

Race 9: Tips 1-5-8.

BEEF CITY BLAZE: Form OK, top trainer, top driver, top alley, big chance.

LORIMER LADY: Good overall form, bad draw, in top stable.

HAWKOWL: No form over 18 month period, would not be in this stable if no ability, watch market.

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