DID YOU KNOW?
Each week, we will feature
two countries and some interesting harness racing facts on them. If you know
something noteworthy that we should consider adding, please use the Feedback
Form and let us know.
Choose a country:
Surfaces: Various combinations of stonedust, sand, and clay
Track sizes: Between one-half mile (800 metres) and one and one-quarter mile
Oldest Track: Goshen Historic Track – 165 years
Amount of tracks: 310; 40 of those are commercial or “pari-mutuel”
Mobile starting gate
Photo finish camera
Hobbles (both trotting and pacing)
Past performance program (racelines)
Pari-mutuel hardware (but not the pari-mutuel system)
Film and video patrol
American born and/or raised: Stanley Dancer, William Haughton, Jack Moiseyev
(just to name a few...)
(those people who have come over from other countries)
Europe: Jan Johnson, Berndt Lindstedt, Jan Nordin, Mario Zuanetti, Hakkan Wallner,
Trond Smedshammer, Per Henriksen, Jimmy Takter, and Jacqueline Ingrassia.
Australia and New Zealand: Ross Wolfenden, Chris Ryder, Noel Daley, and Brett
Canada: John Campbell, Luc Ouellette, Mike Lachance (again, just to name a few...)
• All tracks race clockwise
• Distances are from 4/10 mile tracks to 6/8 mile tracks
• Track material consists of some grass tracks and some sand tracks.
• The two main tracks are Duindigt (6/8 mile) and Wolvega (5/8 mile).
Then there is Groningen (5/8), Alkmaar (4/10 mile) and a couple of county fair
tracks: Emmeloord, Eenrum, Joure, and Leek which only race a couple of days
• At the main Dutch racetracks 8 horses go behind the gate
• Average amount of horses in a race is 10
• Maximum amount is 16 horses in a race
• Duindigt combines thoroughbred and standardbred races at 2 tracks.
• Features “shorttrack races” with trotters---This takes place
in the summer, in the middle of town they cover the streets with sand and 2
trotters compete over a distance of approx. 300 metres. When a horse has won
twice, he goes to the next round.
• Wolvega: Prijs der Giganten 1.609 meters (2 Series + Final) –
• Duindigt: - Grote Prijs der Lage Landen: 2600 meters Bandenstart; Derby,
three-year-olds: 2600 meters.
• Hugo Langeweg, Dutch and European Champion (competing in the WDC 2003)
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• 32 Racetracks:
Major city tracks – 3
Middle-size tracks – 11
Rural Tracks – 18
• Horses, number in training 22,400
• Standardbreds, starters 12,863
• “Coldblood,” starters 1,679
• Standardbreds, swedishborn, approx. 56,600
• Number of foals 4,332
• “Coldblood”, approx. 9,300
• Number of foals 546
ELIGIBLE FOR RACING:
• Standardbreds, mares 2-10 years
• Standardbreds, colts and geldings 2-12 years
• “coldblood,” 3-15 years
FOREIGN STARTS BY SWEDISH
· Earnings: 52476445 SEK
• Female: 17
• Male: 396
• Totalizer handling 10 176 804 000 SEK
- taxes 1 121 809 000 SEK
- betters return 7 130 796 000 SEK
- STA’s commission 1 250 063 000 SEK
· Erik Adielsson (competing in WDC 2003), Jimmy Takter (trainer/driver),
Stig H. Johannson (trainer/driver)
• In Britain, there are 5 “hard” (crushed limestone) tracks
at Tir Prince (North Wales), York (Yorkshire), Corbiewood (Scotland), Wolverhampton
(Midlands), Amman Valley (South Wales). The Amman Valley track is located in
an old coal mining area, so there is a fair amount of crushed coal in it.
• There are 29 grass tracks.
• Most are half mile round (some are a bit less) and there is one five-eighths
track at Wolverhampton.
• Harness Racing in Britain is tiny compared to other countries.
• All racetracks run counter-clockwise except the grass track at Musselburgh
(also a thoroughbred racing track).
• Musselburgh is the oldest track in Great Britain (started in 1894).
• Races have typically 10-12 horses competing. (Maximum 12)
• Side Note: It is interesting to note that the thoroughbreds in Britain
are now using “Kant-C-Backs,” and refer to them as a new innovation.
• Weekly racing prize money is quite low at about £250 for a win,
but there is at least one meeting a week in the height of the summer for £2-3000
first place money.
• At York Racetrack, on June 7, 2003, they had the richest ever race in
Britain for 3 year olds that paid £7,025 to the winner.
• There are more pacers than trotters, approx 90% / 10%
• Stuart Sowerby (competing in WDC 2003), Mike Lord (competed in the WDC
• Track surfaces consist of: sand, cinder, and grass.
• The distance varies from 800m to 2000m.
• The races run in both directions.
• The oldest track, Cherbourg, was built in 1836.
• Only trotters race in France, and on average 13-14 horses start in a
• Tape starts and trotting races under saddle were first created in France.
• Jean Pierre Dubois, Jean Rene Gougeon, Henri Levesque, Pierre Vercruysse
(competing in the WDC 2003)
• The Viennese
Trotting Association (Wiener Trabrenn-Verein) was founded on April 18th, 1874
and is one of the oldest trotting clubs all over the world.
• The Vienna Race
Track (Krieau) was ceremonially opened on September 29th, 1878. Since that time
the track has existed on the same site as it does now. The Krieau is the second
oldest race track in Europe behind Moscow Hippodrome.
• The grandstand was
built from 1912 - 1914. It is protected as a historical monument and was totally
renewed from 2000-2002 in its
• The first Austrian Trotting Derby (for 4 year old horses) was run in
1884 and had its 128th anniversary this year. It is one of the oldest and most
prestigious races all over Europe.
• Instead of competing for money, the fair races would compete for gold,
silver and other valuables.
• no whips are permitted in racing
• there is usually 8 horses at the gate and 4 trailers.
• some races are at a stand still where up to 15 horses compete. In this
type of race, drivers are severely fined if they start too soon.
• average purse is between $1600 - $2000
• Paul Skjaker (trainer, driver), Harald Lunde (trainer)
• There are 44 racetracks in Finland.
• Of these, 20 provincial tracks race throughout the year and have either
one race day per week or one race day in two weeks. The rest of the tracks are
so-called 2nd- or 3rd-class tracks which means that they have a meet only during
the summer. A meet in Finland means that a track has one race day per week (or
per two or three weeks or even once per month) during the summer.
• 3 summer tracks are located north of the Polar Circle, arranging one
meeting yearly, and one of them races at midnight.
• About 20 meetings in winter take place on ice-covered lakes.
• Some of the races in Finland have “standing starts.” The
"standing start" (also called "volt start") is a start type
where the horses trot a "circle" in a certain order following the
• All tracks in Finland
are 1000-meter tracks, some of the 3rd-class tracks may be somewhat shorter,
but there are no mile or half-mile tracks.
• The race distances vary quite lot in Finland. The so-called "short"
distances are 1600 meters and 1609 meters. The so-called "full" distance
is 2100 meters, and the so-called "middle" distance is 2600 meters
and the "long" distance is 3100 meters. On some tracks the distances
are 1640 m, 2140 m, 2640 m and 3140 m.
• There are two racing breeds in Finland, 40% is their national, cold-blooded
breed, the Finnhorse, and the remaining are Standardbreds.
• The position of the saddle pad differs from Canada on where it is placed
on a horse. For a picture, click
• Erkki Laakkonen (owner/breeder), Antti Teivainen (competing in the WDC
• Occasionally, standardbreds will race on grass thoroughbred tracks.
Some of these thoroughbred tracks race in the opposite direction than what North
America is used to seeing, and when the standardbreds hold race cards at these
tracks they race in the opposite direction as well.
• The most regular racing distance in Ireland is one mile. However, they
do have races that run at distances of 1 1/4 and 1 1/2 miles.
• Depending on the amount of races a horse has won, they can be handicapped
from the starting gate in 10 yard increments. Therefore, not all of the horses
will be starting at the gate at post time.
• The average purse ranges from $400 - $500 and is considered mainly a
hobby to the Irish.
• This is the
first time Ireland has competed in the World Driving Championship
• Anthony Haughan (driver, trainer),
Alan Wallace (competing in the WDC 2003)
AUSTRALIA AND NEW
• The Australian and New Zealand breeding and racing industries are closely
• Trotters and pacers are raced at 145 tracks around Australia, most of
which are between 800 and 1000 metres (~1/2 and ~5/8 mile) in circumference
• Fields of generally up to 14 runners race on oval, shellgrit surfaced
• Mobile and Standing Start races are conducted in Australia and New Zealand.
• In recent times, "Sprint Lane" or "Open Stretch"
tracks have become common.
• Harness Races are held over a variety of distances, generally between
1609 metres (1 mile) and 3200 metres (2 miles), depending on the circumference
of the track.
• There are no trotters in Western Australia or Tasmania, while trotting
has recently been established in Queensland. Trotters are also raced in New
South Wales, but are most popular in South Australia and Victoria. Victoria
is the premier state for trotters, with approximately 550 trotters racing anually
in comparison to 3500 pacers. Trotting is also prominent on both islands of
• All horses share the same birthday - August 1
• Cardigan Bay, a New Zealand-bred pacer, was the first horse in harness
racing history to win $1 million.
• Trainers & Drivers:
Ross Croghan (Australia), Noel Daley (Australia), Mark Harder (New Zealand),
Michael Langdon (New Zealand), Brett Pelling (New Zealand), Chris Ryder (Australia),
Grant Dixon (competing in the WDC 2003 for Australia), Mark Jones (competing
in the WDC 2003 for New Zealand)
• Horses: Lyell Creek N, D B Bopper N, Our London Pride N, Last Sunset
Here we have featured the five tracks involved in the World Driving Championship
CHARLOTTETOWN DRIVING PARK (1/2 mile)
DATE OF ESTABLISHMENT
· Track built in 1888, has been around for 115 years. Known as the “Kentucky
· first track to use photo finish in Canada
· first track to use mobile starting gate in Canada
· first freestanding judges stand (oldest one)
Aged Mare Pacer: Little Black Book, 1:54
· Features race cards for 8 months of the year (May – December)
· The homestretch is 625 feet WITH a passing lane.
· Home of the prestigious Gold Cup and Saucer (1960) and Old Home Week.
Old Home Week was invented as a welcoming home festival for those Islanders
who had “moved away,” but had come back to visit. The agenda consists
of sporting events, concerts, and racing.
· Home to Joe O’Brien, Paul MacKenzie, Wally Hennessey, Harry Poulton,
Mike & Mark MacDonald
FLAMBORO DOWNS (1/2 mile)
DATE OF ESTABLISHMENT
Track built in 1975
· Flamboro was the first banked track when constructed.
· It was the first track to use a passing lane.
TOTAL ANNUAL HANDLE
· approx. 130 million per year
· Canadian Records
2 year old colt - Sir Luck, 1:53.4
3 year old filly - Precious Delight, 1:53.3
3 year old colt - Art Major, 1:51.1
Aged Stallion - Oye Vay, 1:52.1
2 year old filly - Sharise Seelster and Independent Woman, 2:00.1
3 year old filly - Earl Of My Dreams, 1:58.1
3 year old colt - Abbey Road C, 1:56.1
Aged Mare - Last Rites, Carscot Gypsy, Doin The Town1:58.2
Aged Gelding - True Story, 1:56.2
· World Records
*Fastest Mile By a Woman Driver
Linda Duncan driving RG Bernard, 1:54.3
2 year old filly - Northern Harmony, 1:54.4
Aged Gelding - Mr Brown, 1:51.2
Aged Stallion - Have A Beer, 1:56.2
· Confederation Cup: - Eligible to 3 year old open pace horses
- Takes place annually since 1977.
- The next Cup will be held August 17, 2003.
WOODBINE RACETRACK (7/8 Mile)
DATE OF ESTABLISHMENT
· Woodbine opened in 1954 with thoroughbred racing. The racetrack underwent
a major facelift in 1993….There are now 3 tracks at Woodbine: a 7/8ths
mile harness track, a 1 mile thoroughbred dirt track and a 1 1/2 mile thoroughbred
· Harness Racing opened at Woodbine on Jan. 1 1994.
Ages Pacing Mares - Carolina Sunshine, 1:48.4
· Offers both Standardbred and Thoroughbred racing. Woodbine is the only
track in North America that can offer both on the same day.
· Length of home stretch = 976 feet.
· 1996 Breeder’s Cup: it was the only time the event has been held
outside the United States.
· Home of the North America Cup
· Home of the Queen’s Plate: North America’s oldest continually
run the thoroughbred stakes race (older than the Kentucky Derby)
· Woodbine is the only racetrack in North America that can hold thoroughbred
and standardbred racing on the same day.
· total handle = $250 million/ year
RIDEAU CARLETON (5/8 mile)
DATE OF ESTABLISHMENT
· Track built in 1962 and celebrated its 40th anniversary last year.
2 year old filly pacer - Odies Fame, 1:52.3
Aged Gelding trotter - Goodtimes, 1:53.3
·first to install the pylons for safety on a racetrack.
·Through our mutuals and 10 teletheatres in Eastern Ontario approx. $40,000,000
· Rick “The Whip” Zeron, Sylvain Filion
HIPPODROME DE MONTREAL (7/8 MILE)
DATE OF ESTABLISHMENT
· Track built in 1998
Aged Pacing Horses - Goliath Bayama, 1:48.1
· Live + Simulcast: $174 million
· Prix du Quebec: final for aged Quebec bred
· Coupe de l’Avenir: finals for 2-year-old Quebec bred
· Coupe des Eleveurs: finals for 3-year-old Quebec bred
· Trot Mondial de Montreal: open trot (6 North American against 5 European