Horse racing styles
All major horse racing styles explained; from Steeplechase, going down to Stakes Race, covering Flat Racing, Maiden Race and Handicap Race. The National Hunt explained for those who heard it for the first time.
The National Hunt: Come winter, and it is the time for National Hunt in UK. This popular race involves the jumping of fences by horses. Winter is the chosen time, since horses are cheaper, the ground is softer, and competitions from rival tournaments are lesser. Jump racing is only popular in UK, France, and the most in Ireland.
Steeplechase: This form of horse racing is chiefly conducted and very popular in UK, besides US and Ireland. The name comes from the early days of this form of racing, where the orientation of the race was in reference to the church steeple, and included many obstacles, like jumping to cross fences, ditches, and many other country obstacles. Today, Steeplechase refers to a distance race where many obstacles like fences and ditches are to be traversed. The English Grand National run at Aintree racecourse near Liverpool is the most famous race of this genre.
Flat racing: It is the opposite of Steeplechase. It’s a term common in UK, which refers to a horse race of a predetermined distance, where the horses do not have to cover or cross obstacles like fences and ditches. Example of this type of racing is the National Hunt Racing. Flat racing is a test of stamina, and speed. It is run on turf, as in UK, and dirt, as in US. Horses are made to run distances from 5 furlongs (1006 m) to 2 miles (3219 m)
Maiden Race: As the name suggests, maiden race is the first race of a 2 year old horse. It is a race of virgin horses, who have never won a race before. Horses of different age groups can participate in this race. The rules are similar to stakes race, in the way that all horses carry the same weight, and are not handicapped.
Handicap Race: This is one form of horse racing where the horses are made to carry different weights according to their talents. The better horse will have to carry more weight, to give more chance of winning to the horse which is otherwise less likely to win. This makes the betting very interesting. The chances of predicting become very challenging because the horses are carrying unequal weights. The Grand National and The Melbourne Cup are the most reputed Handicap races of the world.
Stakes Race: Also known as conditions race (in UK and France), it is the race of higher class, and offer bigger prizes. It is a competition of horses belonging to the same gender, age, class and weight. Unlike handicap races, horses do not have to carry unequal weights—they carry equal weights. Examples of a stakes/conditions race are the Breeders' Cup races, the Two Thousand Guineas Stakes, the One Thousand Guineas Stakes, the Epsom Derby, the Epsom Oaks.