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Would a change in the breeding season help stem the serious decline in foal numbers?


Australian harness racing official’s have to face up to the fact that the decline in foal numbers is having a serious effect on field sizes and hence wagering revenues will ultimately be affected

This was predicted many years ago but nothing that has been done has reversed the downward trend

There are many reasons for the decline including the waning interest in the sport from the public at large and the drop off of smaller breeders and studs that simply can’t afford to compete

Industry participants are totally reliant upon administrators to bring the crowds back  to harness racing and apart from questioning/replacing the people at the helm have little influence on fixing this problem

However they may be able to help to some degree improve the perilous situation that will soon confront the industry – insufficient numbers of horses

Most people agree that one huge problem is that unless you breed or buy a yearling from one of the top North American stallions your chances of a worthwhile return on investment (money and time) are not that great

In addition a hefty percentage of the stallion fees heads back to North America which does not benefit our industry in the way Australian owned stallions ((Home bred or imported) would

So the question becomes would our industry be better off if we changed our breeding season similar to that of the North American Breeding season

This would mean

Harness Racing season runs from Jan 1st – December 31st each year

Breeding Season runs from February 1st – May 31st

Foals born January – thru April

Turn 2 y o between January thru April

Please discuss with your harness friends and feedback views (positive or negative) and any additional ideas you might have to Harness Bred

Approved By Dean Baring www.harnessbred.com
Driving The Future Of Harness Racing

Dean Baring


  1. Hi Dean, I don’t think this would be advantageous simply because of the natural time of the year for cycling. Mares really only cycle properly between October and January. In my experience so far a cold spring or a drought as we have now will alter that by a month or so but in general this is the optimum time for the majority. By trying to alter it you would only encourage more use of hormones for broodmares which are already over used. I believe the over use of hormones is a big problem in the breeding industry. Not only do they interfere with the natural process it increases costs in several ways by rendering some mares useless as well as the cost of the drugs and the cost of prolonged time at stud. I am also starting to realise that mares that are not teased naturally appear to have a bigger percentage of uterine problems. These are my thoughts from my observations and I will always be learning!

  2. There are plenty of horses around to race, its not the breeding season that is the problem but the monopoly the top 3 or 4 trainers have in the industry, they win everything, ie Emma Stewart had odds on runners in nearly every race at Cobram the other day.
    The little trainer and little owner who keep the industry afloat by supplying the runners for every race get no return, and then when you enter for a restricted race to try to get a few $$$$ , up pops one of the greedy top trainers with a $1.20 fav and wins accordingly, the game is fked. I have been a fan of the harness racing since I was a child going to the showgrounds with the langs to watch there horses race. I still own several horses that are currently racing but the enjoyment has just dissappeared as our administrators have let the game go to the dogs. We need more races for the battlers of this game that can get a return now and then just to pay the training fees. The punters do no care how fast they run , just who wins. If you horse comes 2nd twice in a month its not even enough to pay your training fees and how many horses can do that.
    As I said the game is fukd.

  3. Foals born and rebreeding during the hottest months of the year would be a challenge.

  4. Can’t see how changing the breeding/ racing seasons will encourage more people to breed. My gripe at the moment is the running (or NOT running) of 2yo races this season. Have a look and see how many 2yo races were programmed and completely deleted from the meeting, how many full penalty races have been run, and how many were down graded to $3000 races because of insufficient nominations. The more the industry keep doing this to the people who breed and buy, and are lucky enough to have their horses ready for the first 2yo races of the season, the more those people are not going to bother doing this because all that is happening is they are throwing good money away because they have no hope of recouping anything to recover some of their costs purely because the races are not run and therefore no money can be collected. Which means that they end up spelling their horses, which still cost money to feed/agist, then they have to start from scratch again to get them back to the races. Then there’s still no guarantee that a race will hold up. How do we stop this…………well, maybe the races should still be run regardless of the amount of runners. This way if owners/trainers and more importantly the ‘breeders’ know that if they have a horse ready to go, there will be a race here for them (like on the mainland) and will encourage people to breed. Not to mention the invaluable experience it would give our youngsters whilst running around and getting ‘practice’ amongst smaller fields. And just on the stake money that has been ‘saved’ from the deleted and downgraded races, does it get put back into this season for future races? Will a 2yo race be split and they run two at the same meet for full stake money, let’s say they get 12 nominations/ 6 in each? Just some thoughts that may help get people back into the industry and breeding again. We breed and race, but to be honest, I am really starting to wonder if it’s really worth the time, effort and the money. I love breeding foals, watching them grow, wean, break in, and getting them to the races. And if they win, there’s no better feeling because I know ‘we’ have done it from start to finish and it’s a really awesome accomplishment when it happens. But seriously, am wondering if it’s really worth it, sometimes you just have to draw the line somewhere.

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