Victoria Derby Harness Racing

While millions of thoroughbred racing fans eagerly await the Group 1 Victoria Derby (2500m) at Flemington every Melbourne Cup Carnival, the harness racing equivalent is another excellent race to enjoy a punt on.

2014 Alabar Victoria Derby winner with owner Barry Purdon and rider Zac Butcher. Image: Harness Link.

2014 Alabar Victoria Derby winner with owner Barry Purdon and rider Zac Butcher. Image: Harness Link.

The Victoria Derby is Australia’s oldest classic pacing race, first run in 1914, and is conducted by Harness Racing Victoria (HRV).

Open to three-year-old pacers, the Victoria Derby is sponsored by the world’s premier standardbred nursery Alabar.

The Alabar Victoria Derby takes place every summer and is one of the most bet on harness racing events in Australia.

Attracting the leading local and interstate pacers, this Group 1 harness racing event begins with a series of heats held in late January to determine the top runners that will continue onto the final.

As a series, the Alabar Victoria Derby is a brilliant betting opportunity for punters as you have the heats and the final to bet on.

A week after the heats are held, the prestigious Victoria Derby final runs. The previous venue for the final was Moonee Valley, but 2010 was the ‘farewell’ meeting for the MV track and Tabcorp Park has been home to the Victoria Derby from 2011.

Offering a lucrative $200,000 in prize money, the Victoria Derby is one of the most famous and richest age group harness race in the Southern Hemisphere, which is why so many punters are keen to get in on the action every year.

The 2010 Victoria Derby was taken out by the brilliant pacer Courage To Rule who started at $11.

Courage To Rule was at great odds because the gelding hadn’t won their heat the previous week, proving there is some excellent money to be made by betting on the longer-priced Victoria Derby runners.

The best place to go for all your Alabar Victoria Derby betting is online to a bookmaker such as

Offering better odds than the TAB and giving punters a huge range of betting options, online bookmakers are the leading betting outlets for harness and thoroughbred racing.

Alabar Victoria Derby Winners

Year Winner Driver Time
2014 Our Maxim Zac Butcher 1:56.0
2013 Ohoka Punter Tony Herlihy 1:55.9
2012 Scandalman Jim Douglass 1:57.5
2011 Sushi Sushi Greg Sugars 1:55.7
2010 Courage To Rule Greg Bennett 1:58.9
2009 Captain Joy Gavin Lang 1:58.9
2008 Tanabi Bromac Gavin Lang 2:01.2
2007 Lombo Pocket Watch Gavin Fitzpatrick 1:59.2
2006 Divisive Peter Rixon 2:00.9
2005 Emmas Only Kerryn Manning 2:02.4
2004 The Sentry Gavin Lang 2:00.4
2003 Bellas Boy Tony Herlihy 1:59.7
2002 Tricky Vic Mark Reed 2:02.8
2001 Rare Gem Tony Herlihy 2:00.6
2000 Stars And Stripes Ken Barron 2:00.9

Victoria Derby Pacing Explained

There are essentially two types of harness racing horses in Australia. These are trotters and pacers. The Victoria Derby is a pacing event.

The difference between trotting and pacing is quite simple, and comes down to the different gait employed by the horses. A trotter runs “normally”, moving its legs forward in diagonal pairs. For example, the offside front leg and near hind leg would move forward at the same time.

Pacing involves both legs on each side of the horse moving forward at the same time. For example, both the near front leg and the near hind leg step forward together in unison.

Trotting is by far the most popular form of harness racing in Europe, while in North America pacing is certainly the most common. Overall, pacing is a faster sport and tends to be more favourable for punters, as pacers break stride less often (ie, breaking into a canter).