From the Royal Ascot to Cheltenham Festival, there are many major meetings on the UK’s horse racing calendar. The Grand National is not only among the biggest horse races in the UK, but it’s also the most famous jump-horse race across the world. Unlike other races, the Grand National certainly offers quite a spectacle, with its imposing fences and marathon 4m4f trip. This handicap race is held in early April every year. In terms of class, it may not be the highest race, but the thrills and spills that come along with it are great. With everyone tuning to this race, the Grand National is tough to beat.
Cheltenham Gold Cup race represents a conclusion of the Cheltenham Festival day and features the best National Hunt calendar races. The superstars of this jumping game arrive to tackle 22 fences that are spread over a trip spreading 3m2 ½ f. In order to triumph in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, the jockeys are required to demonstrate an ability to jump with fluency, combined with copper-bottomed stamina. Among the most popular racehorses that have tasted success in this race are Arkle, Golden Miller, Desert Orchid, Kauto Star and Best Mate. This offers a scintillating climax to the final day of the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
The Queen Mother Champion Chase race is a two-mile contest representing a championship event for two-mile chasers in the season. The race was given its title as a tribute to the Queen Mother in 1980 for her support of racing. Famous winners in the race include Sprinter Sacre, Master Minded and Moscow Flyer. The King George VI Chase race is the second most prestigious jumps race in the UK. Run at Kempton on Boxing Day every year, the race spreads over three miles and is named after the 1937 monarch. Due to the unique combination of jumping and staying ability needed to prevail here, multiple winners usually emerge.
Epsom Derby One is among the most famous flat-horse races in the UK and world. This Derby is run at the most challenging and unique courses the UK has. The turns and undulations of Epsom offer a thorough test of the best middle-distance race. This race is targeted by the top trainers, owners and breeders. For many, this race is the jewel in the UK’s flat racing crown season. The St Leger race represents the season’s final Classic and is run at Doncaster in September over a one-mile trip, spreading 132 yards and six furlongs. Launched in 1776, it’s the oldest Classic race, taking its name from Anthony St Leger.
Ascot Gold Cup is run over a two-mile, four-furlong marathon trip and is open to all four-year-old horses and above. It’s run on Royal Ascot’s third day to effectively determine the flat-stayer champion of the season. The most famous winner of the race is Aiden O’Briens’ Yeats, who achieved four victories in a row from 2006-2009. The King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes race is one of the most prestigious and richest. It is open to horses aged three years and above. It attracts the best horses from Irish and British soil regularly but can also draw other riders from elsewhere.
The Champion Hurdle race is another contest from National Hunt’s year highlight, held in March each year. It’s the pinnacle of the season and feature race of the Festival’s first day, representing top horses over smaller obstacles. Spreading over a trip of 2 miles plus half a furlong, ability and speed are fully tested. The Bet365 Gold Cup race follows the Grand National race in April and is among the popular staying handicap chases. Featuring 3m5 1/2f and 24 fences to the finish line, this race represents excellent mixed flat meetings and jumps. Launched in 1957, it was the first race in the UK to attract commercial sponsorship from Whitbread.
The Kentucky Derby is one of the most famous horse racing events globally. It takes place in the United States at the Churchill Downs Racetrack, Louisville, every first Saturday of the fifth month. While its prize purse shoots to $3,000,000, American bettors are known to place the highest bets on it. The sport takes place over about 1.25 miles and is often described as the fastest and exciting. The sport has earned the nickname “run for the roses’’, as winners are draped in a blanket of rose flowers. The Secretariat is the fastest horse in the history of the Kentucky Derby, having won in under two minutes.
The Dubai World Cup happens every last Saturday of March, at Meydan Racecourse in the United Arab Emirates. It’s the most valuable race that happens on the World Cup night. With its prize purse standing at $12,000,000, the sport takes place on natural dirt and goes for about 1.25 miles. Taking place on the same card as the Sheema Classic, the race is open to thoroughbreds from northern hemispheres aged four, or three years and above from the southern hemispheres. Thunder Snow currently stands as the only dual winner of the race, which took place in the Dubai World Cup 2019.
The Arc race is arguably the most famous in Europe after the inaugural run, which took place in 1920. It takes place every first Sunday of October at the Longchamp Racecourse, Paris. With its prize purse standing at $5,600,000, the race happens on turf and goes for about 1.5 miles. The race is open to thoroughbreds aged three years and above, but geldings are not allowed to enter. In 2018, eight horses became dual winners for the race. Also, fillies and mares have a particularly good recent record in the club. During World War Two, the Arc races didn’t happen in the years 1939 and 1940.
The Breeders’ Cup Classic takes place in a different venue every year in America, and once in Canada each year. It goes down every first Saturday of the month of November. With its purse prize standing at $6,000,000, the race runs to about 1.25miles on a natural dirt surface. A two-day meeting is usually scheduled to take place in different locations in the United States each year. Open to thoroughbreds that are three years and above, the “win and you are in” series slogan still rules. To date, Tiznow is the only double record classic winner of the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
The Sheema Classic is held on every last Saturday in March every year at the Meydan Racecourse, Dubai. Horse racing is a beloved sport by the Sheikhs and Princes of Dubai. With a prize purse of $6,000,000, the race happens on turf ground over a distance of 1.5 miles. The first contest of this race happened in 1998 and is currently among the most valuable races in the world. The race is open to only Northern hemisphere thoroughbreds aged four years and above. The race also features the Dubai Turf – an honourable mention within the same race – with a similar prize purse stretching over 1800m.
The Melbourne Cup in Australia happens every first Tuesday of November each year. With a prize purse of $5,300,000, it takes place on turf ground over a distance of 2 miles. It’s a handicap for horses aged three years and above. Testing thoroughbred racehorse stamina, the weights are set by the Victoria Racing Club. Its first contest happened in 1861 and is currently targeted by horses from all over the world. The first British-trained horse to win this race was the Cross Counter. Makybe Diva is the only Melbourne Cup winner that has held victories in a row from 2003, 2004 and 2005.
In its oldest forms, it was enjoyed by Ancient Greeks, Egyptians and Syrians. Although Britons already had a profound love for horses and used them in warfare and transportation, it wasn’t until 200 AD that the first competitions were organised by British soldiers. As technology advanced, photo finishes and stalls were introduced in the 1940s and 1960s. The sport kept spirits up during World Wars and inspired healthy competition among neighbours and sports enthusiasts.
Horse betting has been prevalent for as long as horse racing has existed. Betting on the outcome of horse races has always been enjoyed by the majority of horse racing spectators. With the advent of technology, everyone is now able to participate through the internet without even visiting a jockey club, mostly for recreational purposes. However, some take horse gambling very seriously and end up spending a significant amount of time researching horses and studying the form.
Since the early days of chariot races, horse racing has evolved in many ways. But it hasn’t changed a lot, since it all comes down to the skill of the riders in charge and the athletic prowess of the horses. This ageless allure, along with the sport’s betting aspects, means we can expect all types of horse races to thrive into the future. Thoroughbred racing is the most prestigious and popular type of horse racing. For many years, Thoroughbred races have been a great marvel to horse racing enthusiasts on account of their grace, power, and speed. Continue reading this guide to learn about other horse racing types.
Harness races may not be as prestigious as the thoroughbreds, but boasts spectator interest, impressive history, and gambling money of its own. The most distinguishing fact is that instead of jockeys, horses pull drivers behind them on a sulky, which is a bike-like cart. Additionally, Standardbred is the horse breed that competes in harness racing. It makes for an exciting spectacle – even if it doesn’t have quite the following other types do, you can still bet on harness races with the same kind of enthusiasm. Whether you’re doing some horse betting online or at the track, you’ll enjoy great odds.
Also referred to as jump racing or national hunt racing in the UK, steeplechasing possesses impressive popularity. The distinguishing characteristic of this race is that at various points of the race, horses must jump over obstacles before reaching the finish line. An example of steeplechase racing that continues to draw spectator and betting interest is the Grand National in Liverpool, England. In many areas across the world, horse injuries during jumps have become a concern and curtailed the popularity of steeplechasing races. Steeplechase horses are sometimes specifically bred for that purpose. Sometimes, they can be Thoroughbreds trained simply for the jumps.
Races were classified to ensure horses of comparable ability compete against each other. It was also done to ensure that at each level of classification, specific standards of quality are met. The idea was to promote racing fairness, as well as ensure excellent opportunities for gamblers while avoiding mismatches. Additionally, certain horses seem more specialised and can perform specific races better than others. The classification of races also allows racing authorities to co-ordinate the scheduling and planning of particular races. This ensures the best quality horses will compete in a large selection of races, particularly important for the top-class races.
Flat racing is divided into seven classes, with Listed and Pattern races ranking at the top. Class 1 races consist of Pattern races, which are also known as group races. They represent Thoroughbreds’ racing elite level and can be divided further into three groups. Group 1 is the highest level, open to horses of several age groups with specific weights, and pays the largest prize funds. Group 2 races are just below Group 1, but can also draw top-rated horses. Group 3 races attract slightly lower-rated horse races. These can be used as stepping stones to higher race classifications or in trial events by champion racehorses.
The second classification in the flat racing pyramid consists of class 2-7 races. The horseracing rank and file of these classes are regulated using handicaps. Before races, official handicappers assign weights to horses based on several variables, such as recent performances, sex, and age. This ensures each race is as competitive as possible. The races are further subdivided into seven classes. Class 1 applies to horses rated over 96. Class 2 is for horses with ratings of 86-110, which includes Heritage Handicap races. Class 4 represents horses rated 66-85 and class 5 horses rated 56-75. Class 6 represents horses rated 46-65, while class 7 represents horses rated 0-45.
National Hunt racing is also divided into several classes. Just like in flat racing, the Class 1-pattern races are subdivided into 3 tiers (Grades). Grade 1 races are those contested by finest-jumps racehorses in specific distance/event categories such as the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Grade two races are also featured by elite racehorses, but their field quality is typically lower than in an average Grade 1 race. Grade 3 races include major handicap races and pay larger prizes, attracting more interest than higher-grade races. An example is the Grand National. Listed races rank below Graded races and the quality of competitors reflects on race status and the prize money.
National Hunt races are also handicap events just like flat races. Weights are used in levelling the field to create competitive races. However, the lower Class races here don’t have minimum rating restrictions. As such, horses with ratings below the stipulated maximum can compete in any handicap. The handicaps are subdivided into five classes based on entry ratings. Class 2 are open races, while Class 3 are open to horses that are rated from 120-135. Class 4 handicaps represent horses rated 100-115, and Class 5 is open to horses rated 85-95. Class 6 of National Hunt races include hunter chase events and National Hunt flat races.
There are several bets you can choose from, but they fall into two main categories: exotic bets and straight bets. Straight bets involve one horse in a single race. On the other hand, an exotic bet involves multiple horses in one race, two races or even more. Aside from the number of horses, the chance of winning is another characteristic that separates the two bet types. Statistically, you’re more likely to win a straight bet. This implies you’ll be paid less for it. There are smaller chances of winning in regards to exotic bets, but you’ll be rewarded with higher payouts.
Straight bets consist of win bet, place bet and show bet. A win bet is the most popular type in horse racing. They are governed by odds attached to each horse. Picking a horse to win requires scanning the entire field to find an outstanding horse above others. Being one of the most difficult bets to hit, it pays off quite well. You’ll reap big rewards the bigger the race field if your selected horse happens to win. In a place bet, you’ll win if your horse comes in the first or second place. This offers you a little leeway and a higher chance of winning.
A show bet is the easiest to win in horse racing and as a result, they tend to pay off the least. If you select a horse to show, you’ll win if your horse comes in first, second or third position. These are most common among new bettors. That said, the other category of horse bets, exotic bets, are subdivided into five – Exacta, Trifecta, Superfecta, Daily Double and Pick3 and Beyond. In an exacta, you choose the first two horses to win in exact order. Being a tough task, it pays off well, more so if one or both horses have moderate to high odds.
In single-race exotic bets, you have an option to box it. This means you’ll pick the first two horses to win in any order. Known as an exacta box, it’ll pay half of what a straight exacta pays. A trifecta is a difficult bet to win, but if you happen to hit it, it’s very lucrative. Given the “tri” prefix in its name, you win if the first three horses you select win in exact order. You can also box a trifecta but you’ll be paid half of what a straight trifecta pays. However, you’ll have to stake more than an exacta box due to the increased number of combinations.
Getting into the realm of trifectas means your techniques of selecting horses must be perfectly-honed. You’ll have to be in a position to almost anticipate the entire race and sense horses that could remain in the front for the entire race. It’s really a true race-handicapper test, which is why it pays well. In a superfecta, you’ll have to predict the first four horses to win in order. A superfecta box is available, but the bet is so pricey resulting from the myriad of combinations involved. It pays handsomely to anyone who can hit on it, but requires a little bit of luck. Even experienced handicappers struggle to predict superfectas.
Exotic bets can also take the form of multiple horses in more than a single race. This is well-represented in a daily double, where you have to predict the winner of two different races in a row. Most tracks involve an early daily double in the first two races and a late daily double in the final two races. Of the exotic bets, the daily double is the most approachable, because you’ll be trying to select clear-cut winners and not just hoping to figure out who will trail the winner. A track may occasionally include a special daily double, which may tie into unique races hosted.
Pick 3 and Beyond involves picking more than 3 bets, and the payouts here are really awesome. This requires you to select winners of 3 races in a row. Most tracks go beyond this to offer Pick 4s and Pick 5s. This could also involve wider stretches that require you to top several consecutive winners. Tracks offer incentives in these admittedly difficult bets in a bid to award the bettors’ efforts. If you hit on such a bet, the payout is relatively large. However, regardless of whatever amount of cash goes into the pool for such a bet, tracks often guarantee a specific maximum amount for payout.
For those fairly new to horse race betting, understanding how odds work is essential. Horse racing betting odds represent a mathematical depiction of the likelihood each horse has of winning a particular race. In addition to giving gamblers ideas of how likely horses are to win or come to a specific position, odds also offer a clear illustration of how much they could get back if their selection is successful. After understanding the different nuances of odds in horse racing, they can be used as reliable guides that help you in selecting favourite horses as well as showing you how much you could win.
Horse racing odds are represented in decimals and fractions. For fractional odds, 4/1 means that for every 1 unit staked, you’ll get 4 units plus your stake if you win. 7/2 means that for every 2 units staked, you’ll get 7 units plus your stake if you win. If you happen to bet a horse at 4-1 for £5 and it wins, you’ll get (£5 x 4) +£5=£25. For decimal odds, 5.00 simply means your stake will be multiplied by this number to calculate your potential returns. If your stake is £5, your potential winnings are £5×5.00 = £25. In this case, the stake is already factored in the odds.