Harness Whip Free Trials

Thursday 4 May 2017


Harness Racing Australia (HRA), along with TasRacing and assisted by the Office of Racing Integrity (ORI) will be conducting Whip Free Trials in Tasmania at Carrick and Hobart on the 6th and 8th of May 2017, respectively.

The Whip Free Trials are part of HRA’s consultative process to work towards the introduction of whip free racing in a way that maintains safety at the track and during races, as well as allowing drivers to control horses moving on and off the track, or moving into position behind mobiles or tapes.

The purpose of these research trials is to test effectiveness of the safety device (pictured) and take feedback from drivers regarding its design and suitability.

The trials will be conducted as though the whip free draft rule (below) were in place, which means that the current whip will be replaced by the prototype safety device.

The safety device must only be used during the trials for safety purposes only, for example, if a horse were to balk to or unexpectedly shy, or cause a safety concern to itself, its driver or others on the track.

Beyond horse control aspects, the trials will also allow stewards to observe whip free racing and provide feedback on the steward’s experiences in monitoring the draft rule.

Drivers, trainers and stewards will be interviewed as well as the trials being filmed, and a report will follow.  The questionnaire has been constructed with input from Driver representatives who attended a forum with HRA on 26 April 2017.

The draft rule that will be in operation for the Tasmanian trials is as follows:


Rule 156

  1. A whip shall not be used on a race track during a race meeting.
  2. A driver shall at all times when driving a horse in a race carry an approved safety device.
  3. A driver shall only use an approved safety device for safety purposes.
  4. The Stewards shall in their discretion determine safety purposes, but without limitation, those purposes include the following:
    a) Where a horse is shifting ground, likely to cause injury to another horse and/or driver.
    b) Where a horse has baulked, likely to cause injury to another horse and/or driver.
  5. A driver shall hold a rein in each hand at all times unless he or she is adjusting approved gear.
  6. A driver who fails to comply with sub-rules (1), (2), (3) or (5) is guilty of an offence.

HRA Chairman, Geoff Want, is producing regular updates on the progress of consultations and the implementation of whip-free racing via the Whip Free Racing drop down tab under News Room on harness.org.au.  Other relevant news will also be posted to this section of the website periodically as the process continues.

Please note for the purpose of the trials, participation for trainers and drivers is optional and no drivers will be formally penalised under the draft rule in the trials.

For further information contact Kevin Nielson on 0418 309 538 or k.neilson@tasracing.com.au