As with the recent overhaul of the whipping rules and regulations for thoroughbred racing in Australia introduced late last year, the new harness racing whip rules brought into effect on January 1 are creating a storm of controversy.
Introduced by Harness Racing Australia, the new laws mean that a driver must have a rein in each hand at all times, and only a flicking motion of the whip itself is allowed.
The new rules mean that many of the country’s harness racing champions, who have been driven in aggressively throughout their entire careers, now face early retirement if they are unable to perform at their best and adjust to the new style of driving the laws require.
One example is the Barry Lew-trained Karloo Mick, the nine-year-old securing his 50th career win last Sunday in the Young Services Club Cup. The son of Panorama has won over $1million in stakes and is being considered for this year’s illustrious Inter Dominion, however Lew has expressed concerns over the superstar’s ability to race in top form under the new laws. Lew has warned the gelding will be retired if he fails to live up to his legacy in his upcoming starts, which are likely to include the Frank and Edna Day Memorial at Goulburn on January 14.