The Basics of Harness Betting
Harness racing is best described as a type of horse racing in which the horses race at a specific pace, and where they usually pull a two-wheeled cart named a sulky. In Europe, however, racing under saddle is also common. Harness racing has developed over numerous years and in various countries to take the form it is now commonly known as.
The Actual Harness Race
In harness racing, horses are lined up at the start either behind a motorised starting gate or through the means of a standing start, where horses remain stationary or trotting in circles in pairs behind an imaginary or taped line on the track. The means of starting often depends on the location of the harness race and countries tend to differ in their preferences.
Each horse carries behind it a light, two-wheeled cart that moves on bicycle wheels. The driver of the cart, in this case not known as a jockey as in Thoroughbred races, generally carries a whip to signal the horse, but there are strict rules as to how and how often the whip may be used. In some countries, the whips are completely forbidden.
The actual start of the race and the starting position is very important for the actual race. A good horse, for example, with a bad start number, might not be able to win a race, especially at races of a short distance.
Once the race starts, drivers will fight for a good running position, which depends largely on the horse, the starting position, and the other drivers. It is generally a difficult thing to achieve, given the width of the sulky and the oval race track. After this initial fight for a good running position, horses will usually naturally form into two rows or tracks, the inner track and the outer track. The outer track is about 15 metres longer per lap than the inner track, but this does not necessarily mean that the inner track is a better position as overtaking may be immensely difficult.
On average, the horse in the lead of the inner track in a short distance race have the best chance of winning, while in longer races the horses that are second or third in the outer track generally have good chances of winning.
Types of Horses
Harness racing is mostly restricted to Standardbred horses, though other countries will also see other horses of mixed ancestry competing. Standardbred horses generally have shorter legs than Thoroughbreds, and they also have longer bodies.
Betting on Harness Racing
There are several different types of bets that have evolved during the history of harness betting. The most popular by far is a betting game called V75. In this bet, bettors will have to pick the winner of seven pre-decided races, with between 12 and 15 horses competing. Bettors usually pick numerous horses to bet on, which brings up the cost of this betting system, but it also makes possible wins quite large.
V75 races cover various distances, including a short race of 1640m, a normal race of 2140m, a long race of 240 m, and a rather uncommon extra-long race of 3140m.