End of Season - Change of Racing Year

22 September 2020

Following the announcement of the extension of 19/20 Racing Season and the consequential decision by the Harness Racing Australia (HRA) Executive to permanently change the racing season from 1 January 2020, there are transitional administrative impacts for the Grand Circuit, Trotting Masters and National Awards for the current season.

Clarity is provided regarding these items below:

Harness Racing Australia (National) Awards

Driver and Trainer Awards

The J.D. Watts Awards which recognise the Australian Driver and Trainer of the year will be based on a like-for-like period for the twelve-month period 1 September 2019 to 31 August 2020.

While results and/or opportunities may have been slightly impacted due to COVID protocols and their impact on racing activities, the twelve-month window provides a level playing field. This also ensures that historical records are not compromised by extending the period in which wins are recorded. 

It is proposed that a four month “COVID Cup” season will be held for training and driving performances, with awards for the period 1 September to 31 December 2020, before resorting to a regular 12-month Racing Season basis from 1 January 2021.

Lifetime training and driving records will not be impacted in any way.

Horse of the Year Awards

Traditionally, voting for Horse of the Year Awards is conducted immediately following the end of the season. As many feature races, particularly those for juveniles, have been postponed from their traditional dates, it is impractical to conduct a vote to consider Horse of the Year honours at 1 September 2020.

Therefore, adjudication of the 2019/20 Horse of the Year Awards will be completed following the extension of the season to 31 December 2020.

Breeding Awards will similarly be awarded on this basis to allow the postponed feature races to be taken into account.

Coulter Awards

The Coulter Awards for media and promotion will also be awarded following the 31 December 2020 season end. Harness Racing Australia will call for nominations for these awards in January 2021.

2019/20 Feature Races

APG Grand Circuit Championship

With the Pryde's Easifeed Victoria Cup programmed for 10/10/2020 and the TABtouch WA Pacing Cup scheduled for 4/12/2020, both of these races will be held twice during the extended 19/20 season (1 September 2019 to 31 December 2020).

Accordingly, these two races will be included in the 2019/20 APG Grand Circuit – thereby extending the Grand Circuit to a 10-leg series.

The previously postponed the TAB Blacks A Fake Queensland Championship will be the final leg of the series on 12/12/2020.

APG Trotting Masters

The APG Trotting Masters, of which two of the six legs were not held due to COVID-19 will not be subject to any further changes.

Therefore, the current leader after four legs will be judged the winner and this will be the subject of a separate Media Release.

The prize pool for the APG Grand Circuit and APG Trotting Masters will not be impacted.

Industry Statistics

A range of breeding and industry wide reports and industry statistics are typically published on the harness.org.au website 4-weeks after the season is completed.  This timing provides time to clear of any anomalies, such as disqualifications or suspensions, collation of year end date, as well as the data checking required to ensure accuracy and validation.

While the amendment in the racing season has brought about additional challenges in terms of reporting these items, timing remains on track for these statistics to be published in the usual manner.

Trials as Yearlings

With two year old’s commencing racing from 1 January 2020, yearlings will be permitted to trial to qualify for two year campaigns.

With the change in rule AHRR 35 subject to ratification by the HRA Members, yearlings will be permitted to trial from 1 October prior to turning two.