Flat Racing

In Flat Racing horses with the best speed or best stamina (or both of these) have the advantage, depending on the distance of each race. Jockeys also play a major part as they have to be able to get their horse to do the right thing (e.g. ‘ask’ them to go faster or slower). Thoroughbreds are the most common form of horse breed you will see in this form of racing. Natural grass race courses (also referred to as turf) are the most common. You will see some races run on synthetic or all-weather tracks (especially for flat races run in winter). Flat Racing generally takes places over shorter distances than National Hunt racing, and there are no obstacles in Flat Racing (as the name suggests).

Flat Racing (in Great Britain, at least) takes the form of (1) Conditions races, or (2) Handicaps.

  • In a Conditions race, horses carry weights. Females carry less weights than males. Older horses carry less weights than younger horses. Less successful horses carry less weights than more successful horses. Conditions races are not handicap races – as the weights are allocated according to the predetermined conditions of the race (not by an handicapper).
  • The most prestigious of the Condition races are the Pattern races (which are usually called Group races). These are the most well-known and iconic races, known not just in Great Britain but around the world too. There are 3 Groups:
    • Group 1 – The five British Classics, and major races with international appeal (e.g. Ascot Gold Cup, Goodwood Cup)
    • Group 2 – Other races with international appeal
    • Group 3 – Races with mainly domestic appeal
    • There is another form of Conditions races, which aren’t as well regarded as the Group races – these are Listed races.
  • Handicap races are the most common races you will see daily. They are generally less well regarded than the Conditions races, although there are some that are well regarded. In a handicap race, horses carry weights to balance out their capabilities. These are determined by an handicapper, and as explained above make this form of racing different from Conditions racing.

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