The Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) Board has announced all Group 2 and 3 Victorian country pacing cup races will be run as preferential barrier draw (PBD) events in season 2017-18.
Wagering analysis of the 2016-17 country cups circuit revealed a 3.9% increase in wagering on pacing cups compared to the season prior.
This increase came despite a 24.7% YoY decline in wagering for the Shepparton Cup, which transitioned from a standing start handicapped event to a non-handicapped random barrier draw (RBD) race. Hectorjayjay started a $1.20 favourite for the Shepparton Cup.
In October 2016, the HRV Board agreed to discontinue standing starts in pacing races for a six-month trial period. Analysis of wagering data indicates a widening gap between mobile starts and standing starts, with mobiles now generating 30% more wagering per race compared to a standing start. That gap expands when comparing standing starts to mobile starts for two-year-old races and lower class $3500 races.
Based on this analysis, the HRV Board made the decision to keep all country cup pacing races as mobile start events but with PBD handicapping applied to all Group 2 and 3 races. This is to reduce short-priced favourites and maximise revenue returns to the industry.
Speaking on RSN’s Gait Speed this week, HRV CEO David Martin said:
In regards to country pacing cups, “There’s been quite a degree of debate between standing starts versus mobiles and really what it comes down to is you’re moving from a handicapping system to a non-handicapping system. I think with the introduction of preferential barrier draws across all Group 3 and Group 2 cups we reintroduce a handicapping system in a different form.”