Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) Stewards advise drivers in the Victorian harness racing industry of their requirements in relation to horses breaking gait in accordance with Australian Harness Racing Rule (AHRR) 154 which states:
154 (1) If a horse breaks gait during a race, its driver shall take immediate action to avoid interference with other runners and without gaining an unfair advantage restrain the horse to its correct gait before rejoining the race without interference to another runner.
(2) Where in the opinion of the Stewards a driver fails to comply with sub rule (1) the horse may be disqualified for the race or placed in a lower finishing position and the driver is guilty of an offence.
HRV Stewards hereby notify the industry that the practise of forcefully and severely applying pressure to either side of the rein to endeavour to return a horse to its correct gait or for any other purpose, is no longer considered an acceptable practise from a horse welfare perspective and where sufficient evidence of this form of conduct is established, may constitute improper driving in accordance with AHRR 168(1)(e) which states:
168 (1)(e) A person shall not before, during or after a race drive in a manner which is in the opinion of the Stewards is improper.
Recent instances of this type of conduct have and will continue to be pursued by HRV Stewards and may result in significant penalties being imposed in accordance with the HRV Stewards Minimum Penalty Guidelines.