The IHRA works closely with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (in Dublin) to develop the sport both domestically and internationally.
In 2013 the IHRA made a conscious decision to grow the sport in Ireland, the country known as ‘The Land of the Horse’. During these past four years, there have been many achievements and milestones.
After an extensive audit throughout 2015 IHRA earned the right to become an active member of the Union of European Trotting (UET). This membership has meant that IHRA now has an influential position on the global stage with membership on various global committees.
In 2017 the Department of Agriculture funded an Independent Review of the Irish Harness Racing Sector. Five key Recommendations were made including support for the expansion of the sport. As a consequence of the Report, the IHRA is currently working with the Department toward the delivery of a Five-Year Strategic Plan.
The sport of Harness Racing in Ireland is now positioned for further growth and to offer many economic and social benefits for the Island of Ireland.
About the Sport
Harness racing is a form of horse racing in which Standardbred horses race at a specific gait (a trot or a pace)
They usually pull a two-wheeled cart called a sulky, although in Europe racing under saddle (trot monté in French) is also conducted.
Standardbred horses can develop speed up to 30mph ( 48 km/h)
Hippodrome or Racetrack
Hard all weather tracks or grass half mile tracks
Standardbreds are so named because in the early years of the Standardbred stud book, only horses who could trot or pace a mile in a standard time (or whose progeny could do so) of no more than 2 minutes, 30 seconds were admitted to the book.
Today, most harness races are won by Standardbreds who post times of 2 minutes or less.
The horses have proportionally shorter legs than Thoroughbreds, and longer bodies.
Standardbreds generally have a more placid disposition, due to the admixture of non-Thoroughbred blood in the breed.
The founding sire of today’s Standardbred horse was Messenger, a gray Thoroughbred brought to America in 1788 and purchased by Henry Astor, brother of John Jacob Astor.
From Messenger came a great-grandson, Hambletonian 10 (1849–1876), who gained a wide following for his racing prowess.
However, it is his breed line for which he is most remembered.
The lineage of virtually all North American Standardbred race horses can be traced from four of Hambletonian 10 sons
Is identified by the horse gait used, as pictured to the right.
In pacing the horse’s leg’s move one side at a time.
This has historically been the style of racing in Ireland, and is also most popular in the USA, Australia and New Zealand.
Pacing horses can be easily recognised by the special equipment “hopples” used on their legs, designed to help the horse maintain its pacing gait.
Trotter The trot is a two-beat diagonal gait of the horse
where the diagonal pairs of legs move forward at the same time with a moment of suspension between each beat.
This is the most popular style of racing in Europe and is currently becoming more popular in Ireland.