Understanding the Types and Classes of Horse Races

Types and classes of horse racing

Horse racing is considered one of the oldest and most entertaining sports-betting genres in the world. Not only does it provide loads of betting opportunities on a single event, but it also offers a plethora of different types of horse races to bet on.

As a newcomer in the world of horse race betting, you might not be aware that there are different horse racing types you can bet on. It’s for this very reason that we decided to create a comprehensive guide to assist you in differentiating between the types of horses races that are available in the industry.

Some horse races put an emphasis on endurance, while others track speed or other specific skills. You will also find horse races that come with grade horses or specific types of horses at a certain level. It’s extremely important to differentiate between each horse race before you place a real money bet, as some horse racing events are far more worth your time and money than others. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the different types of horse races you can bet on.

What is Flat Racing?

Flat racing is considered the most popular type of horse race in the world. Thoroughbred horses usually participate in these types of horse races and the racing action often occurs on flat, levelled surfaces. The Triple Crown horse racing events, including the Belmont Stakes, Preakness Stakes, and Kentucky Derby, are by far the most popular flat racing events.

However, any horse race that occurs on a flat surface without any obstacles or hurdles can qualify as a flat race. You will come to find that flat races usually occur at distances of between 1 and 3 miles, depending on the horse racing event, and can test the stamina and speed of a horse.

The most popular surface for horses to run on is turf. However, you will find tons of races that also occur on dirt tracks, especially when you bet on horse racing events in the United States.

In Europe and the United Kingdom, you will find that flat racing is divided into two classifications, including Handicap Racing and Conditions Racing. Handicap and Conditions races essentially refer to the handicaps that have been set for horses long before the event gets underway.

There are several elements that determine a Conditions race, including the sex and age of a horse. When it comes to Handicap races, you will find that horsed with an initial advantage will carry additional weight to level the playing field for bettors.

Handicap races are also usually set by a handicapper and will not be based on the sex or age of the horse. Handicappers take into account the horse’s pedigree, post position, form, pace, speed, the jockey, and a host of other key elements that can effectively handicap the race.

The Breeder’s Cup Classic, along with the Triple Crown racing events, are considered the most popular flat racing events in the United States.

If you keen on placing a bet on flat racing in the United Kingdom, you will find that the 2,000 Guineas Stakes, the 1,000 Guineas Stakes, the Leger Stakes, the Epsom Oaks, and the Epsom Derby are considered the most popular flat racing events in Great Britain.

Example of Flat Racing

What is Jump Racing (National Hunt)

Jump racing, also known as National Hunt, provides obstacles or hurdles for horses to overcome over and above the surrounding competition and the length of the track. In the United States it’s called jump racing, while Europe referred to it as National Hunt.

Jump racing is basically racing events where horses need to avoid ditches, fences, and a range of other obstacles while competing against other horses. These types of races are immensely popular in the United Kingdom, Ireland, and even France.

Jump races provide a bigger challenge for bettors across the globe. This is due to the fact that there are more variables to consider when compared to flat racing, including the jockey’s control and the horse’s hurdling capabilities. Jump racing can be divided into two categories, including Hurdles and Steeplechase.

When horses participate in Hurdle races, they will only jump over hurdles as obstacles. However, when horses participate in Steeplechase races, they will leap over several obstacles, including open ditches, water, and fences.

The most popular jump racing events from around the world include the Aintree Grand National and the Cheltenham Gold Cup. The Aintree Grand National is considered the most prestigious jump racing event in the world that occurs in April every year.

Apart from these two jump races, you will also enjoy tons of betting opportunities on jump races like the Hennessy Gold Cup and the King George VI Chase.

You will also come to find that Point to Point racing falls under the Jump racing category. This is a jump racing event specifically designed for amateurs.

What is Endurance Racing?

The third most popular horse racing type is endurance racing. These types of horse racing events basically challenge horses over extremely long distances or over an extremely long period of time.

Unlike most of the popular jump and flat racing events, you will find that endurance racing will test the horse’s longevity and endurance on a track. Bettors will be more focused on the horse’s ability to provide consistency over a long period of time as opposed to speed.

This horse racing style is not as popular as jump or flat racing events as it takes a much longer time to complete and it’s ideal racing events for jockeys or horses.

The Mongol Derby is considered the longest endurance race at the moment, stretching at a distance of 1,000 kilometres. Endurance racing events welcome all breeding types.

However, the most popular breed seems to be Arabian horses thanks to their elite endurance and stamina.

What is Harness Racing?

You will also come across a handful of horse racing events where horses are responsible for more than just the jockey and their own weight. It’s called harness racing and horses basically need to pull a sulky (lightweight cart) and race a specific pace or trot.

The primary objective for horses in harness racing events is to pace or trot at a predetermined speed and not break stride. Horses in harness racing are penalized for galloping. The penalty is to slow down behind their competition.

The Prix d’Amerique is considered the most popular harness racing event in the world that takes place in Paris every year. Horses that participate in this event compete for a minimum of €1 million.

Example of Harness Racing

What is Quarter Horse Racing?

Quarter horse racing is another lesser-known type of horse racing that takes place in several regions around the world. These types of horse racing events place an extreme emphasis on the horse’s speed.

Quarter horse racing events usually occur at a quarter of a mile or even less, challenging faster horse breeds to participate and win at extremely short racetracks.

The talent and speed that is involved in these horse racing events is what makes them so exciting. The only downside to them is the fact that they don’t last very long.

Even though they are not as popular as other horse racing types, bettors still enjoy placing an assortment of bets on the horses that participate in these events.

The most popular Quarter Horse racing events at the moment include the Ruidoso Downs and the All American Futurity.

What is Maiden Racing?

There are essentially two ways in which you can look at horse racing types.

The first includes the distance, obstacles, and the actual track the event deals with.

The second is the type of horses that are allowed in the race along with what is at stake. These horse racing types are more focused around the graduation of racing events for horses.

This is where maiden racing events come in. Maiden racing events are not restricted by a type of horse. Instead, it’s restricted for horses that haven’t managed to win a race as of yet.

A horse will remain a maiden until it conquers a race by winning the event. Maiden racing events are specifically designed for horses that haven’t won a single race in their careers.

When a horse wins a race during a Maiden racing event, it’s not really considered an impressive feat. However, it does build a pathway for the horse going forward.

Due to the inexperience you will find at maiden racing events, it’s nearly impossible to gauge which horse will take the win. Therefore, it’s a very difficult horse racing type to bet on.

What is Claiming and Allowance Racing?

You will also come across horse racing events that are not only run for profit, but also provide the perfect opportunity to showcase a horse for selling purposes. Obviously, these horse racing events aren’t considered very popular when it comes to betting due to the lack of reliability and the primary goal of the horse being purchased.

However, you will find that the two racing types do differ from each other. Allowance racing events provide a much larger purse when compared to Claiming racing events, and the horses that participate in Allowance racing events aren’t for sale.

These horse racing types aren’t that important in the horse racing world, but they still come equipped with a great deal of money and they provide unique opportunities for horses to build a promising future.

Claiming races are horse racing events where horses participate to win. However, owners also have the opportunity to determine their value. Similar to maiden horse racing events, these races are low level and not the best atmosphere in terms of betting.

People are welcome to put in claims to purchase and bid a horse ahead of claiming races. If the horse finishes in the money, the new owner will get the horse, while the previous owner will walk away with the purse.

What is Stakes Racing?

After a horse has managed to prove himself, they are welcome to participate in Stakes racing events. This is considered the highest level of horse racing events, and usually come equipped with jaw-dropping purses.

Some of the best horses, jockeys, trainers, and owners are available in these horse racing events, providing a stepping stone for some of the most prestigious horse racing events in the world.

Any horse that winds up participating in the most popular events usually have to climb a ladder. This is where you will see an average horse participating in several stakes races. These horse racing events usually occur on flat surfaces and are well-known across the globe.

You will notice that there’s low level stakes racing events and high level stakes racing events that participating horses that use to advance them into popular racing events like the prestigious
Kentucky Derby.

Example of Stakes Racing

What is Graded Stakes Racing?

The final horse racing type is Graded Stakes racing. These horse racing events are divided between grades, including Grade I, Grade II, and Grade III. The grades essentially tell you which horses are the most competitive and it will give you insight into the quality of the field.

Graded Stakes racing events provide the perfect measuring tool for horses, jockeys, trainers, and owners, while bettors can evaluate the performance of each horse and how they compete against other elite horses from around the world.

You will also find that graded stakes races come with different tracks and lengths, serving as massive stepping stones for lagers horse racing events. You will also find that graded stakes races offer bigger purses.

The most popular intermediate graded stakes horse racing events include the Travers Stakes, the Santa Anita Derby, and the Arkansas Derby. Each of them are renowned for their competition, difficulty, and overall quality. Any horse that can win one of these events is immediately respected due to their ability to win a major race.