Punters who are serious about their betting on harness racing can often be the racing world's most fanatic types. Like train spotters, or even golfers, they become obsessed. I admit that years back, I was among the fallen.

I ate, slept and drank harness racing. But I even knew guys who were more serious about it than I was. They were the clockers, the professionals who were very serious about sectional timing and 'lead times' and all the little aspects of harness racing form that 99 out of 100 punters never touch.

When timing a race, these clockers actually time the last mile (1609m) and break that distance down into halves and quarters. For example, a pacer might run its last 'mile' in 2m 04.5s, with the first half of the mile run in 65s and the second half (usually the final 800m as marked on the track) in 59.5s.

The quarters read, in order, 32, 33, 30 and 29.5s. The professionals say a general rule is that a Mile Rate of 2:0O.Os is very sharp. Halves under 59s and quarters under 29s are excellent.

Naturally, you have to take into consideration all the other aspects of how the time was achieved. Some really classy pacers can carve out a mile in around lm 55s, but lower-class animals may battle to run the same trip 10s slower.

Times, then, have to be used as a barometer of one horse against another, just as they do in horseracing and at the dogs.

If you know how fast particular horses are capable of running halfmiles and miles it is easy to rate their respective abilities. Thus, you can march confidently into the prediction business.

But I know that 99.9 per cent of you won't even own a stopwatch and certainly will not be prepared to stand around a trotting track trying to clock lead times and sectional times. So I'll try to help you make use of Mile Rates by the simple means of using your formguide and a little formline reasoning.

When you examine a race, check off the Mile Rates recorded at each runner's last four starts.

You can get this information in National Trotting Weekly or National Trotguide. Then compare each runner's Mile Rates.

These Mile Rates, of course, are the winner's MR and adjustments need to be made for 'metres beaten'. But for the purposes of this exercise, forget about the beaten margins.

If your race is over, say, 2160m, look for races around that distance in each runner's formline. Then choose the best two. Let's look at a recent Harold Park race over that trip. Each horse's best Mile Rate race is listed.

2:05. 1s










Just a straight look at the Mile Rates will give you a good idea of the class of race in which each runner has been competing. My usual approach is to take the six runners with the single best MR.

In this particular race, they were Highview Ana, Yohann Koss, Arina Guy, Cancoon Saloon, Baramac and Royal Shane. The next task is to check the betting market. Any horses that are not on the first four lines of betting are discarded.

I always work on the assumption that 9 out of 10 winners are going to be listed on the first four lines of the pre-post market.

For this race, the surviving qualifiers were Highview Ana (4 / 6), Yohann Koss (7 / 1), Cancoon Saloon (10 / 1) and Baramac (6 / 1).

I eliminate Cancoon Saloon because he's at double-figure odds and we are not interested in 'longshots' for the simple reason that although they may win one or two, they usually lose. The market is a pretty sharp factor in harness racing assessment.

That means we have three runners left, Highview Ana, Yohann Koss and Baramac. These are the runners on which we concentrate. Obviously, from the advance betting, Highview Ana looks an over-the-line proposition. The 4yo mare's MRs are excellent and she is nicely positioned from the 2 draw.

The race finished with Highview Ana winning by 10m at 2/5 with Every time 2nd at 10 /1 and Baramac 3rd at 5 / 1. The Mile Rate for the race was 2:01.5s.

You can use this Mile Rate approach on any race you choose and I guarantee you will enjoy many winning days and nights of harness racing betting. Take the time to hook onto the Mile Rates and you are on the way.

Now for a couple more harness systems that I am sure will land you many good winners and placegetters.


  1. You can operate this plan on any meeting. You will need a formguide that lists betting movements in the formline details.
  2. Tick off all unplaced runners (from 4th onwards).
  3. If they EASED in the betting last start, tick them off as qualifiers. (The betting in the formline, as per National Trotting Weekly, is listed after the Mile Rate and number of starters.)
  4. Of these qualifiers, bet any which are now starting at a shorter price than last start, but do not go below 2 / 1.
  5. If there is more than one qualifier, back both if prices permit at least a 50 per cent profit (return of $3 or more on $2 outlay).

The next system centres on beaten favourites. It's a plan that pulls in some excellent winners, albeit at short prices, on provincial tracks, especially in Victoria.


  1. Operate on any meetings, but try to specialise on Victorian midweek provincials.
  2. Tick off any runner who was a beaten favourite last start.
  3. Second run back, the horse must have won or been placed 2nd or 3rd at less than 2 / 1.
  4. To be a final qualifier, horse must now be at 2 / 1 or under.

This is a plan that works well, and provides many winning streaks, because it is aimed at getting short-priced winners. Used as an all-up for the win and the place it can supply a steady stream of collects.

By Rick Roberts