Required: Report Change In Driving Tactics

Published: November 3, 2010 12:05 pm EDT

Harness Racing New South Wales has announced that, effective immediately, all trainers wishing to utilize a change in racing tactics with their horse in a race must 'apply' to the stewards at least 45 minutes before

post time.

The announcement states that the change of tactics must first be approved by the stewards. If approved, the tactic changes will be available for handicappers online on the Harness Racing NSW website ( They will be posted to the website shortly after approval and found in the 'integrity' section.

“Not everybody is in favour of making COTs public, but if it is going to be the practice then they should be readily available,” said HRNSW CEO Sam Nati.

“The race callers and media broadcasters will still be given the information to pass on, but this provides a broader approach,” he added.

The online availability of tactic changes is just one of a number of enhancements being made to the recently launched HRNSW website. Another is 'Open Inquiries,' which provides a list of inquiries which are still to be finalized by stewards and the date of the hearing.

(With files from HRNSW)



Bottom line:Casinos and other "gambling related businesses",cater to their patrons who make their business viable(very viable).The bettor makes our business viable,like it or not.Whether disgruntled,mad or even a sore loser,they still contribute to this sport and help it survive(and I hope it does).Someone has to say it:We need the bettors!Casino bettors or otherwise would not continue to frequent these places in droves if they thought they were not given as fair shake.

I couldn't agree more. But, again, having trainers officially announce how they plan to race their horse is unnatural and ludicrous. Does a football coach send his opponents his play sheet before a game??

C.Renon Mr. smith i also bet regularly and have picked the wrong horse more times than i can count however with this being said i can accept that and that is why i keep coming. What i can not accept is not getting an effort for my money. What racing means to me is if there are 10 horses on the gait all 10 should be trying to win. Getting ready for the next race and training miles are for the morning, when money is bet and a horse has no intention of putting his best effort forward that is FRAUD! If the horse is not 100% leave him in the barn.And as far as my abilities as a handicapper i can hold my own with the best, i am not a disgruntled bettor and have easily watched a quarter million races!

Mr Renon, I take exception to your comments - because I am a bettor and a fan of this industry, nothing else. I'm not an owner, trainer, driver or groom and I don't otherwise work in this industry. My argument is that this is HORSE RACING! This isn't balls bouncing round in a lottery drum. A lot of things can happen between the driver sitting on the bike and the wings unfolding. Whomever has come up with this rule knows absolutely nothing about horse racing. And any "bettor" who uses this as an excuse (ie, "that horse usually leaves but today he took back so I lost my money") is not worth his/her salt as a handicapper.

I bet regularly and you know what - I lose alot. Guess why..... because I pick the wrong horses. Alot of bettors should learn to accept this - and maybe they wouldn't be so "disgruntled".

I think you are missing the point here. In Australia they expect you race your horse in a consistent manner. If your horse leaves week after week & this week the horse does not leave the gate & finishes back especially at low odds the driver will be called in to explain & likely suspended. All they are demanding is consistency & if a trainer/driver decides to change things up to see what works they want the public to know. Saves the driver from being hauled in & suspended. Totally different racing there, so it's not just a matter of buzzing to the front & winning a race. If you believe this is going to result in low payoffs think again. Open an account & try capping it even with the "trainers" intent to change tactics info! Bettors here are always crying about inconsistancies.

A trainer might not tell a driver "how" to drive the horse to a win,but the trainer tells the driver before "every race"if he/she can PUSH the horse to the LIMIT.A driver has no idea what kind of shape a horse is in,or if it's a "prep"race for next week!There is no way a trainer will risk his reputation,the drivers life or the owners investment if the horse is not close to 100 percent.That's why one week you will see a driver "push" a horse hard(two moves,three/four wide) and the next week ride the rail.Its not that the driver screwed up and got boxed in,it's because the trainer told him/her to get the best finish position they can but be "easy" on the horse.

When you see a driver do nothing with a horse for 3-4 races then all of a sudden go to the outside 2-3-4 wide and work the horse in the stretch it's not because the driver made the decision to push the horse,the driver was given the okay from the trainer to push the horse.

I have re-read this article umpteen times and nowhere does it say anything about "DRIVERS" applying to change tactics. The article clearly says "TRAINERS". All the comments I've seen so far have addressed how this rule would affect drivers! I don't think this rule would really do anything as most drivers pay little attention to what the trainer says anyway and some present day trainers have never driven in a race and have a grossly inflated opinion of their horses abillity, so a trainer's stated tactics would likely be meaningless!
But it sure is another example of the silly rules being forced on racing, in various juridictions, by backroom politicos who never sat on jog cart let alone a race bike!

I think people have a misunderstanding of the intent of letting the judges know about the change of tactics. It is an integrity issue for sure. First of all, you need to realize the style of racing in Australia is a lot different than it is in North America; it is not everyone races in a single line, coming out to make their attempt for their lead. Racing on the outside is common so if horses leave, there is no problem if you are stuck on the outside.

The concept behind the change of tactics rules is to prevent trainers from chucking the race. Too many times we have people using parimutuel races as a training mile so thy basically, head to the back of the pack and just sit there. We have elimination races and horses who typically race on the front end all of a sudden find themselves racing in the back making that one brush to qualify for the lucrative final instead of racing to win in the elimination. And on the half mile track when saddled with the seven or eight hole, horses who make no effort.

Have a horse who is a front runner; better not head for the back of the field and sit there when you historically flop racing from behind. You better make an effort to win the race. Horse is a stone closer who never wins from the front end; better not see you suddently try to wire the field. Otherwise, you better be coming to race and win.

As for payoffs, I would argue they would be higher as bettors will know that horses on the outside are not going to be just going around the track but attempting to win. No more races where drivers are conceeding the race to a horse and racing for second. Races will be more competitive. No more horses using a race as a tightner.

It would be interesting to see if something like this would work in North America. Not even the part where the public is told about the change in tactics, but trainers who are planning to have their horses raced differently telling the judges ahead of time and needing their approval (which they would need to give unless clearly the horse has never been successful that way). Let's have a few purse races without wagering and see how it works.

C.Renon In regards to Peter Smith's comment no it is not a joke and wake up it is an attitude like yours that has the game in the trouble it is in. The disgruntled bettor is the one who makes racing for purses possible, that's how horse people get paid! why shouldn't they be privy to knowing that a horse that alway's leaves and races best that way is going to be taken back and put on a helmet.

take out the variance of decision making on the spot and the result is:
2.20 2.10 2.10
2.10 2.10
how exciting is that
I'd rather go inside too and push a button and listen for the bells
The public know what drivers go to the top and what drivers come from off the pace.
believe it or not some drivers actually react to what the horse wants to do that night
I'm glad we race in Ontario where we wouldn't even consider this

The idea behind this may not be so bad - I'm all for providing bettors with more and better info.
Often thought it would be nice to get inside the head of the drivers to know what approach or strategy they intend to use for a particular race.
The problem of course (as noted) is that they may have to change on the fly depending on how the race develops.
Also - why would the stewarts have any say in the matter - you can't penalize the driver if he is forced to change strategy part way through the race !

I'm sure that this rule has been in place in Australia for a while, perhaps a few years. The only thing new is that the information is going to be provided online to the betting public.

I think the option is always open to the driver/trainer etc. to explain that things developed in such a way as to require adjustment in the race. There are Australian steward decisions available on the Internet regarding the rule and its interpretation.

What is this, a joke?? I can't believe a responsible organization would endorse this ludicrous suggestion. e.g. Driver A reports to the Steward and says "I'm leaving for all she's got to-day"......Steward replies "No your not, take back and make your usual 2nd over swoop in the stretch". "OK"........ Absolutely insane!!

Is this some kind of joke?? Who comes up with these things?? What about when a good driver scores down behind the gate and sees an opportunity to leave hard when he hadn't planned to or instinctively prefers to take back when he had originally planned to leave?? This is pandering to the whims of the "disgruntled" bettors we hear so much about in a ridiculous way and serves no purpose whatsoever from a handicapping point of view.

I have been commenting a long time about how the integrity in the game has suffered for a long time in large part to the perception that drivers do not always give a fair and honest effort to win. While I do feel that this issue definitley needs to be addressed I don't think listing a change in tactics does that. In fact I think it may be more detrimental. I'm not a driver but I would think that it is fairly obvious a driver cannot always possibly know what their tactics are going to be until the gate swings open. Sure there may be a gameplan ahead of the race but that can quickly change once the race starts. Races don't always develop the way the program might suggest they will and a driver needs to be able to adjust to that in order to give the horse a beter chance at winning.I currently do not own any horses but when I did it was left up to the driver to decide how he woud drive the horse based on how the race developed. These rules might force a driver to stick to a predetermiend tactic which may not produce the best result.
I'm all for change and I do beleive drivers need to be more agressive.

Joe Riga

What exactly does this mean? If they commit to going to the front with the horse they HAVE to go no matter what? What if you are in a field with 5 leavers, do you get fined if you don't make the top? This is just short of laughable in my humble opinion!