Trotting is also called harness racing, a type of horse racing, in which the horses run at a particular gait that can be a trot or a pace. Typically, they pull a two-wheeled cart called a spider, or sulky, controlled by a driver. Races of jockeys riding directly on saddled trotters (trot monté in French) are often carried out in Europe, and less often in Australia and New Zealand.
In two separate gaits, races may be conducted: trotting and pacing. The distinction is that a trotter pushes his legs forward in diagonal pairs like right front and left hind, then left front and right hind concurrently striking the ground, while a pacer pushes his legs laterally like right front and right hind unitedly, then left front and left hind).
Races are performed exclusively for trotters in continental Europe, while races are also held for pacers in Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and the United States. Pacing races make up 80% to 90% of the harness races carried out in North America, although the clear majority of harness races in Australia and New Zealand are now also for pacers, while the game is also known colloquially as trots.
Pacing horses are very fast and less likely most essential to the bettor to break phase. Most of the reasons why pacers are less likely to break phase are that they often wear hobbles (straps on either side of the horse linking the legs). A widespread misconception is the conviction that hobbles are used to build this gait. For many horses, the pace is a normal gait, and hobbles are an aid in preserving the gait at peak speed; for the same reason, trotting hobbles which practice a different style, owing to the variation in the gait, are becoming increasingly common.
A standing start is another form of beginning, where there are tapes or abstract lines around the track behind which the horses are either stationary or trot in circles in pairs in a particular pattern to reach the starting line as a group. This usually allows a few tapes (depending on the class) to mount the barrier on the horse with 10 or 20 meters between the tapes.
The United States and Canada
The Hambletonian for 3-year-old trotters, the Little Brown Jug for 3-year-old pacers, and the Breeders Crown series of 12 breeds representing most of the standard age, gait, and sex categories are important annual competitions. For both pacers and trotters, the harness racing industry operates an annual Grand Tour, which features many of the most important races.
Australia and New Zealand
Australasian racing's flagship event is the Inter Dominion Series, which comprises a pacing series and a trotting series. The series takes place annually and rotates around the Australian State Controlling Bodies, and the Inter Dominion Championships are held in New Zealand once every four years. For three-year-olds, the most prestigious competitions include the Victoria Derby, the Australian Derby, and the New South Wales Derby.
The main races in New Zealand include the Auckland Cup and the New Zealand Cup, as well as the Noel J Taylor Memorial Mile and the four-year-old New Zealand Messenger Championship.
France, Italy, and Sweden are the leading harness racing nations in Europe, and the sport is fairly popular in most northern European nations. In Europe, virtually all races are trotting races.
The Prix d'Amérique is generally considered to be the most important and prestigious competition of the European racing year at the Vincennes hippodrome, near Paris, France. An annual Grand Circuit tour entails a variety of prestigious European races for the best trotters. They also host their own widely respected premier competitions for young horses in all popular racing nations.
Elitloppet 2022 will be held in May 2022.