Sort of an idle question, but it's been kicking around in the back of my head. I get the impression that harness racing is less widespread than TB racing. Maybe that's a misconception? I admit, my impression is based solely on books and often older, British books, and it seems harness racing never caught on in the UK. Also possibly a misconception on my part Any insight welcome as to the reality and, if there's truth to this, why.
There harness racing in many places.
There was even racing in Casablanca during WW II.
Been harness racing in Bermuda for decades, however they offer spilt cards.
Denamrk, Swededn Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, UK and many, many more.
At one time their was even a trotting track in Japan, another in Macau.
Russia has always been big in harness racing, however the present sport there is having a difficult existence.
Australia and New Zealand quite popular. Many North Amercian Standardbreds stand dual seasons between here and there.
I was going to mention US Trotting site- they have international info.
Turn of the century (late 1800's into the very early 1900's) harness racing was extremely popular in the US and Canada. It had a glorious but short lived empire. Today some European countries (Sweden, France, Italy, etc), Australian, and New Zealand, with a bit elsewhere are the remaining holdouts for harness racing outside of Canada and the US. I'm unfamiliar with Russia but they have their breed which is not standardbreds. I've place a couple New Zealand bred standardbreds though.
I guess I was born a century too late- I would have loved to see harness racing in it's prime. I love the breed (as evident by my username!) Their history is largely forgotten but there are lingering snipits still in our daily lives
Leland Stanford was also a key figure in the US breed and why Stanford University is nicknamed 'the farm' as it was THE mecca of standardbred breeding and training more than a century ago.
Leland would be turning over in his grave for two reasons?
1) There once was an extensive horse cemetary on the grounds that no longer exists (have a couple of poor quality images).
a) I'm inclined to believe that a portion of the Stanford Farm may have been damaged by the Great San Francisco earthquake, however I've not been able to locate any documentation.
2) The "trotting" bloodlines that Leland Stanford and all his staff worked so diligently to established, only exists today at the "pacing gait"
The Charles Marvin book is a good read and includes very deep insights into the Stanford Farm. The book may even be online in complete form.
I'm unfamiliar with Russia but they have their breed which is not standardbreds.
The two of the Caton brothers (Sam, Frank and Will) from the U. S. both raced horses in Russia.
Trotting was big-time in Russia prior to the revolution and when the Czar owned everything.
I recently digitized/archived a 1936 article by John Hervey on "Trotting in Russia", in which Hervey paid a superb tribute to a horseman named Roman Prawochenski who was the Czar's main-man. After the Revolution and Mr. Prawochenski was released from prison (as a collaborator), he returned to his place of birth (Poland) where he had been (according to Hervey) for ten years in 1936.
I'm "guessing" Mr. Prawochenski was Jewish, rather than Polish (although in today's world there is certainly not any reason why a person couldn't be both) and what confronted him in the years to follow couldn't have been pleasant.
Did a google on Roman Prawochenski and came across some early 1930's references to breeding of non-horse animals in Poland, however no mention of Mr. Prawochenski after WW II. Very unfortunate.
Murray Howe of the old Horse Review made two trips to Russia. Providing wonderful stories in many publications.
There's an old book named "Trot, Trot to Moscow" on the adventures of William Murray (later of Bonnie Brae Farms) who worked for Frank Caton.
The family farm of Bonnie Brae still exists today, however breeds elk rather than horses.