Harness racing industry generates more than $421 million for Vic. economy
· 18,622 people directly involved in the harness industry · 3,991 full time jobs are directly sustained by the harness industry · Coalition Government supporting industry through $80 million Victorian Racing Industry Fund
Premier of Victoria and Racing Minister Dr Denis Napthine has released a comprehensive study showing the continued growing social and economic importance of the racing industry across the state.
Dr Napthine unveiled the IER Victorian Racing Industry Size and Scope Study, which demonstrates the importance of harness racing to communities right across the state.
“The overall economic benefit to the state has increased by 33 per cent since 2006, with the overall racing industry generating more than $2.8 billion in economic activity in 2013,” Dr Napthine said.
“The harness racing industry alone generates more than $421.8 million for the Victorian economy representing a 63 per cent increase over the past eight years.”
The report also highlighted the impact of the harness racing industry on job creation, helping sustain 3,991 full time equivalent jobs.
There are more than 18,622 people participating in the harness industry as an employee, volunteer or participant.
“This shows how vital harness racing is to Victoria and the many people who work in or enjoy this wonderful industry,” Dr Napthine said.
“This ranges from occasional volunteers right through to owners and breeders who invest in the dream of breeding or owning a champion racehorse or greyhound.”
“Regional Victoria plays a particularly key role in the success of harness racing with economic benefits touching all regions across the state. Of all of the State’s harness racing’s economic benefits, 50 per cent of them are generated in regional Victoria.”
Other highlights for the harness industry in the report include:
· 160,400 attendees at racecourses throughout the year; · 500 race meetings held; · 4,006 races run; · 3,576 horses in training; and · 7,850 owners and syndicate members.
Harness Racing Victoria Chief Executive John Anderson said harness racing is very much a part of Victoria’s social fabric – particularly in rural and regional Victoria.
“Across the State of Victoria, nearly 4,000 people are employed in the sport adding $400 million annually to the economy. But it’s more than that. Harness racing is an affordable way for the whole family to actively participate in the racing industry,” Mr Anderson said.
The Size and Scope Report was a joint investment between the Coalition Government and the racing industry including Harness Racing Victoria.
Dr Napthine said the Coalition Government is a strong supporter of growing the racing industry particularly through its $80 million Victorian Racing Industry Fund (VRIF).
“VRIF helps grow the industry through building of new racing infrastructure, enhancement of integrity measures, support for the breeding industry and marketing of racing to new audiences,” Dr Napthine said.
Harness the Excitement
Something for everyone
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. Harness racing is a sport where a special breed of horses, called Standardbreds, race around a track while pulling a driver in a two wheeled cart called a “sulky." "gig" or "bike". 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 a 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. Many tracks offer informational tours and chances to meet with the drivers—for free. This summary will help you better understand the exciting sport of harness racing. Be sure to check out live racing at your local racetrack, Lord's Raceway - McIvor Highway Junortoun.
Nothing Standard about the Standardbred
The Standardbred is a beautiful, gentle breed of horse that is affectionate and easy to work with. The breed comes in many colors, with bay and brown being the most dominant. They weigh between 360 and 550kg. and are known for their willing temperaments. Harness racing is based in tradition and history, but the Standardbred breed continues to improve each year. It is amazing to watch these magnificent athletes set speed records not even dreamed of when horses raced in high-wheeled sulkies and a mile in two minutes was the mark of a truly great racehorse. Now horses in this country are breaking 1:50, meaning that if a horse like the current record holder Smoken Up raced a champion from 1900, the horse from today would win by the length of a football field!Although it appears most of the action happens on the track, harness racing’s influence spreads far beyond that. It is a sporting industry that employs thousands of people nationwide and contributes billions of dollars to local economies through taxes and the sale of feed, farm equipment, racing equipment, trucks, horse trailers and more.
Your first trip 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 some 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 two areas: the grandstand and outdoor seatingand dining areas. The Bendigo Harness Racing Club grandstand offers general admission, dining table service and bistrp style meals, club style seating and stadium-style seating. The outdoor and stable viewing area allows track visitors to sit in more casual surroundings and enjoy food more served from fast food outlets and vendors. The Grandstand dining requires reservations. When you walk into the Bendigo grandstand, you will see several TVs on the walls and at the tables. These TVs are broadcasting, racing and betting information from all over the world to give the bettor more wagering options from which to choose.
Owning a Standardbred Horse
Are you convinced the thrill of owning a standardbred (harness racing)is something only the wealthy can enjoy? Well think again! It has never been easier to get a share of the action and who knows ... you might end up being the toast of the town as the proud owner of a champ. With multiple ownership now a widely-accepted part of the racing scene, it has never been as easy for people to have direct slice of the action - action which encompasses not only the tingling excitement of seeing your own horse in a race, but all the related activities that come with it:
buying - and often naming your horse;
choosing your colours;
visiting your trainer to discuss the horse's program and plan its campaign;
watching your horse at the races;
standing in the enclosure before the race as your horse is led around and chatting with the driver;
or losing, welcoming your horse back from the battle on the track;
Never a dull moment and limitless fun - that's modern racehorse ownership.
The basic types of Ownership are:
Sole Ownership: You will be the owner of the horse and as such any costs and profits will be yours alone. You will have a close involvement with any of the decisions regarding the horse and you will feel a great sense of personal pride in its achievements.
Co-ownership & Partnerships: Why not race a horse with a group of friends? Groups of up to 20 people can join together in racing a horse, spreading the costs of buying and training your pacer, trotter or thoroughbred and sharing any prizemoney.
Racing Clubs & Syndicates: A popular way to get involved in racing, some racing clubs offer the benefit of paying a small membership fee to belong to the club and having the excitement of following a number of different horses. Syndicates are a cost effective option to get involved in horse racing, particularly if you are looking to race your first horse or want to race a few horses.
Leasing: This is an option if you don't wish to take on the full expense of ownership straight away. You can lease a horse from an existing owner or breeder, during which time the horse will run in your name. Under such an agreement you meet the training fees and associated costs and receive prizemoney won by the horse in return for a rental to the owner (commonly one third of prizemoney).
For a first timer probably the best way to go is to buy into a syndicate - that way there is a syndicate manager and trainer who can help guide you and make decisions based on their extensive knowledge of the industry.
Equipped for Racing Every piece of equipment used on a Standardbred has been selected specifically for that horse’s individual needs. This guide will explain the purpose of the most commonly used equipment.
1. Sulky Also known as a gig or race bike, an aerodynamic cart used only in races, which reduces drag and provides lift on the horse.
2. Driving lines Straps attached to the driving bit that run back to the handholds, which the driver uses to control the direction and speed of the horse.
3. Harness Holds the equipment in position on the horse, and consists of the bridle, saddle, girth and crupper. The girth connects the harness around the belly. The crupper is a loop that slides under the base of the tail to keep the harness from moving forward.
4. Head Number Not always worn on the top of the head, the head number connects to the crown of the bridle and designates the horse’s number in the racing program.
5. Bridle Consists of several straps, usually leather, that fit over the head and face of the horse, allowing the driver to control the horse through the use of a driving bit. The blind bridle shown here obscures sight from the sides as well as from behind, which prevents the horse from seeing anything that may cause anxiety.
6. Driving bit Usually a jointed metal bar seated in an area of the horse’s mouth between the front incisors and molars, where there are no teeth. By creating pressure on the sides of the mouth through the driving lines, the driver can steer the horse.
7. Headpole Optional gear that runs along the head and neck and hooks to the harness to keep the horse from turning its head, which may cause it to break stride.
8. Bell boots Optional gear, rubber hoof covers used to protect a horse from hitting its front heels with its rear hoof.
9. Shin boots Worn on the hind legs just beneath the hock and over the ankle, covering the hind legs to provide additional protection from getting struck with a hoof.
More harness and training equipment
Pacing horse with a jog cart used for trackwork
10. Open bridle Allows the horse a full range of sight with no obstruction. Open bridles are useful to relax an otherwise tense or aggressive animal.
11. Overcheck A rein generally attached to the overcheck bit, running over the top of the head and down the neck where it is strapped to the harness. It prevents the horse from lowering its head, which helps maintain a proper gait.
12. Saddle pad Designates the horse’s program number in the race. Each numbered saddle pad corresponds to a particular color. The smaller number is the race number.
13. Tail tie When a horse wants to swish his tail, it is generally a sign that it is going to kick. A tie may be used to brace the tail from movement, which helps the horse resist the urge to kick.
14. Jog cart Used for training, it is heavier than a race bike and is more comfortable for the driver. Many horses warming up between races will also be seen pulling a jog cart.
15. Hobbles Also called hopples, plastic loops worn by pacers to help the horse maintain the pacing gait. Hobbles for trotters are similar to pacing hobbles, but the loops are worn only around the front legs, and are joined by a rope and pulley that hangs underneath the horse.
16. Tendon boots Used to protect the tendon of the front foreleg between the knee joint and the ankle from being struck by a hoof on the opposite foreleg.
17. Knee boots Worn on the forelegs to protect from knee-knocking, which occurs when the knee is struck by the hoof of the opposite leg.
18. Knee spreaders Used to widen the horse’s gait in its front legs to prevent it from hitting its knees.
19. Buxton Nylon strap that runs across the shoulders, around the neck and between the front legs in a Y-shape, which prevents the harness from slipping backward.
Who's Who at the Racetrack
Drivers, trainers and horses are the most prominent figures in the sport of harness racing. But there are many jobs in the industry that are essential to the success of any racehorse.
Club Secretary/General Manager or Chief Executive The Secretary, GM or CEO is responsible for managing the racetrack operations including day to day administration, finance operations, the staff, track preparation and race meetings. Often this person is also part of a network of racetrack managers that works with the controlling body for the betterment of racing. This person usually is part of or reports to the Board/Committee executive.
Committee Each race track has a Committee or Board , usually made up of volunteers from within the membership/ industry. Committees have a President, Vice President, Treasurer and Committee members. The Committee is responsible for the governance of the Club and may appoint sub-committees to assist in the management of these affairs.
Trainer A trainer, licensed by Harness Racing Victoria or the controlling body in the state he/she works, is responsible for the conditioning and care of a horse. Trainers are hired by owners to get their horses ready to race, and to help them perform at their best. Trainers are also in charge of fitting the horses with the right equipment to maximize their racing potential, and making sure they stay healthy and strong throughout the season.
Driver A driver sits behind the horse in a race bike, or sulky, and steers the horse around the track. A driver must have a special license issued by Harness Racing Victoria or the controlling body of the state where the driver races. This gives him or her permission to drive a horse in a race. Drivers have uniforms, specific to them, called “colors.” Sometime sthe colours are unique to the ownership of the horse and some drivers have their own colours registered. Each driver’s colors has a unique pattern and arrangement of colors and must be registered with the HRV.
Owner An owner is the person who purchases the horse, and pays the bills to feed and take care of it. An owner can be an individual or a partnership, which is a group of people that share the responsibilities and profits earned by a horse.
A stablehand works for a trainer, and is the person responsible for harnessing the horse and taking care of its equipment, as well as keeping the horse and its stall clean.
A Tote clerk is the person at the mutuel betting (TAB) window who takes wagers and presents the bettor with a betting ticket. He or she also pays out the money when a bettor has a winning ticket.
Stewards The Stewards are like the referees of harness racing. Their job is to make sure that all the rules of racing are being followed. They watch for rules infractions such as interference and breaks (which occur when a horse gallops instead of maintaining the trotting or pacing gait). Stewards can assess fines or penalties, and they even have the power to overturn race results.
Judge A judge is the person that adjudicates the result of a race, posting the numbers in the winners frame and deciding photo finishes etc.
Clerk of the Course Riding a horse, a clerk of the course is responsible for leading the horses out onto the track and helping to corral them if they get loose. In the event of an accident, the clerk of the course helps collect any horses that get away from their drivers and tries to keep them safe in the process.
Announcer/racecaller The announcer is in a booth above the racetrack, with the best vantage point to see a race. He is the one who describes (calls) the race over the public address system and for national radip and TV networks such as Radio Sport 927 and Sky Racing.
Photographer Track photographers take pictures of the winner at the finish line and after the race is over in the winner’s circle, as the horse poses with the winning owner, trainer, driver and other connections.
Starter The starter is the person who rides in the mobile barrier starting gate (a car or truck with a hinged gate behind it), and is responsible for getting the horses to the starting line in the right order. The starter calls the horses to follow the gate to the starting line. Once the horses reach the start, the mobile barrier speeds up and pulls away.
Farrier A farrier, or blacksmith, is a person who specialises in hoof care. He is responsible for putting on shoes and changing them when necessary. Horses wear shoes because it helps them grip the track and it keeps their hooves from wearing down.
Veterinarian Like people, horses have doctors, or veterinarians, that are available at the racetrack to make sure they’re healthy. Veterinarians perform routine check-ups, while other times they are called upon to treat injuries that happen during a race or training.
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