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HRA: No Change To New Whip Rules

Published: February 1, 2010 10:56 am ET

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The executive of Harness Racing Australia (HRA) reiterated its support for the recently amended rules pertaining to the use of whips in harness racing at its monthly meeting on January 28, 2010, but has agreed to ease the financial burden on drivers found to be in breach of the new guidelines.

The executive, consisting of representatives from each state, considered feedback from a wide range of sources in relation to the new whip rules, which were introduced on New Year’s Day.

“It was determined that the rules are working well in most cases and there was no need for change at this point in time,” HRA chief executive, Andrew Kelly, said today.

“We have canvassed many industry participants as part of the on-going review process of the new rules,” he said. “They are working well in most areas, but it is fair to say they have not been universally embraced by drivers, especially in New South Wales.

“We have spoken with a broad cross section of industry stakeholders, including leading punters and wagering operators, and we will continue to take a keen interest in their views.

“Despite claims to the contrary, the overwhelming view is that the rules are working well,” he said.

“It is worth noting there has been no negative impact on wagering turnover, the confidence of leading punters has not been undermined, and race analysts have not adjusted their form models.”

Kelly explained that the executive also considered safety concerns raised by some drivers, the interpretation of ‘loose reining’ and penalty levels regarding the rules.

“The safety of drivers and horses remains of paramount importance to HRA. In considering all of the advice and evidence available, the executive were not persuaded that drivers adhering to the rules are exposed to any greater threat of accident or injury than they were prior to the changes.”

The executive did however determine that the definition of ‘loose reining’ required attention and that the penalties for accidental breaches should be reviewed.

“We will work closely with Chairmen of Stewards to provide a clear and uniform approach to the practice of loose reining (which is in breach of the rules), as well as writing to state controlling bodies recommending that the minimum uniform penalties be reduced by 50% between now and the end of the review period on 31 March,” Kelly said.

“A number of state controlling body boards have meetings in the coming days and will no doubt consider this suggestion along with their own internal reviews of the rules. However, penalties remain the clear domain of individual jurisdictions and this initiative is a recommendation only,” he said.

(HRA)

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