VIC - Rule Amendments Effective 1 January 2020

27 December 2019

The Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) Stewards draw the attention of all industry stakeholders to amendments to the Australian Harness Racing Rules (AHRR) which take effect from 1 January 2020

In order to assist understanding and compliance the HRV Stewards provide the below information, however warn this does not include all amendments to the AHRR.

All persons covered by the AHRR are required to familiarise themselves with the full list of amendments which can be accessed via this link:


Introduction of AHRR 155A 

The introduction of AHRR 155A provides that should a horse break gait clear of interference, and remain in the incorrect gait as it passes the finish line, that it mandatorily be placed behind any horse which is covering the horses’ body providing that horse is in its correct gait.

AHRR 155A reads:

155A. (1)      Notwithstanding the provisions of Rules 154 and 155 any horse which has broken gait free of interference, and remains in the incorrect gait when its nose reaches the finish line, and is covered by any other horse or horses in the correct gait it shall be placed behind such horse or horses.

(2)      For the purposes of sub-rule (1) “covered” means when a horse has its nose in line with any part of the breaking horse’s body when the nose of the breaking horse reaches the finishing line.

The HRV Board have approved a Local Rule to sit in place of sub-rule (2) above. This was deemed necessary as the tail and hind legs of a horse are prone to obstruction on video footage and photo finish images in a crowded finish thereby creating difficulty in applying the rule in an accurate manner.

Victorian Local Rule (VLR) 155A(2) states:

For the purposes of Australian Harness Racing Rule 155A(1) “covered” means when a horse has its nose in line with any part of the breaking horse’s body excluding its tail or extended hind legs when the nose of the breaking horse reaches the finishing line.

Should a horse break gait at any other section of the race it remains for the HRV Stewards to determine whether that horse was suitably restrained, gained ground, maintained ground or caused interference to the detriment of another runner for the placings to be altered in accordance with AHRR 154 and 155.

Introduction of AHRR 163(1)(b)(ii)

AHRR 163(1)(b) has been extended to create an offence where a driver allows his horse to shift out and impede the forward progress of another runner prior to reaching the designated marker (candy pole) in the final lap.

It remains an offence for a driver to force another runner to cover more ground than necessary.

AHRR 163(1)(b) now reads:

163.    (1)      A driver shall not:-

(b)      subject to rule 164

(i)       make another horse cover more ground than necessary

(ii)       impede the forward progress of another horse;

Introduction of AHRR 170(3)

The prevalence of a horse contacting the sulky with its hind legs has increased significantly with the use of American style sulkies. This occurrence can have a detrimental effect on a horse’s performance.

There have also been instances where a sulky has been positioned too closely resulting in contact to the driver’s feet.

The introduction of AHRR 170(3) places the onus on the driver and/or the person in charge of a horse to ensure that when fitting the sulky the horse cannot contact the sulky wheels and/or the driver’s feet.

AHRR 170(3) states:

170.    (3)      A driver or person in charge of or responsible for affixing a sulky to a horse shall ensure that the sulky is affixed in a manner which prevents the hind legs of the horse from contacting any part of the sulky or the driver’s feet.

 Introduction of AHRR 172(1),(2),(3)

There have been new rules introduced preventing drivers from carrying a mobile communication device (mobile telephone, tablet etc.) whilst driving in a race.

This extends to persons using a mobile telephone whilst handling a horse at any time.

AHRR 172 (1),(2) & (3) state:

172.    (1)      A person driving or riding a horse in a race shall not use or have in his possession any mobile communication device.

           (2)      A person driving, riding or handling a horse shall not use any mobile communication device.

           (3)      A person who fails to comply with sub-rule (1) or (2) is guilty of an offence.

Amendment AHRR 173(4)

The amendment to AHRR 173(4) prohibits all licensed persons from allowing any other person to place a bet on their betting account.

AHRR 173(4) states:

173.    (4)      A licensed person shall not authorise, enable, permit or allow another person to place a bet on a betting account of the licensed person.

Amendment AHRR 273(3) 

AHRR 273(3) has been broadened to include further items of gear which must be worn by every horse presented to race.  These new items are a throat lash fitted to the bridle and a breast plate.

AHRR 273(3) now states:

273.    (3)      A person shall not without the permission of the Stewards start a horse in a race unless the horse is fitted with a false belly band or retaining straps and throat lash and a breast plate.


Any further information relating to these amendments should be directed to the HRV Integrity Department on (03) 8378 0200.