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Types of horse racing | Horse racing explained [2024]

Horse and greyhound races have always fascinated punters and contributed to the early success of betting. Today, you can wager online or in land-based locations, on more types of horse racing than ever before.

In this guide, we teach you how to bet on horses and explain the most common horse betting terms. By the time you finish reading, you will have a thorough understanding of how you can be successful. We’ll help you find the best new horse betting sites UK has to offer, to enjoy the best odds and offers.

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Brief history of horse racing

Before we take a closer look at the different types of horse racing events, let’s talk about a bit of history. Horse races were invented more than 2000 years ago, but modern racing events began in the 12th century. UK horse racing betting is immensely popular, so it comes as no surprise that it all started in England.

Crusaders returning home brought with them Arab horses, which were fast, therefore the perfect candidates for different horse race events. It turned into a professional sport at the beginning of the 18th century, under the reign of Queen Anne.

Some of the main horse races of today were established in the 19th and 20th century. These are still some of the most important horse racing events you can bet on.

Quick glance at the many types of horse racing

Dog betting is a relatively new thing, but people have been placing different types of horse racing bets for centuries. Now that you know what’s horse racing about, let’s check out some of the most popular horse racing types. There are five that stand out from the crowd and you will find them at bookmakers offering free horse racing bets no deposit promos.

  • Flat Racing – is the most popular of all types of racing courses and it involves thoroughbred horses. Just as the name suggests, the race is ran on a flat, leveled surface on distances ranging between one and 3 miles. You will find the best odds guaranteed on horse racing sites if you bet on flat races. In the UK and Europe, they are broken down into conditions and handicap racing, but they are also popular in the US.
  • Jump Racing – one of the preferred events for trifecta box betting, this type of race has horses jumping over obstacles. It is sometimes divided into hurdles and steeplechases, depending on the types of obstacles. Looking at the horse racing background, you’ll see that horse jump races are immensely popular and only second to flat horse racing.
  • Endurance Racing – this is one of the most demanding type of horse race and it tests the endurance and longevity on the track. They can stretch over as much as 1000 km, which also makes them one of the most dangerous of all types of horse racing. The horse race information is published before the event for punters when placing a forecast bet or reverse forecast bet.
  • Harness Racing – is more difficult to find a horse racing team participating in this type of event. Horses trot or pace at a standard speed without galloping and breaking stride. You won’t find this event at virtual horse racing, but the most important event of this type is Prix d’Amerique. The smartest bet in horse racing, when refering to harness racing would be the final time bet.
  • Quarter Horse Racing – this is among the least popular types of racing courses and it focuses on extreme speed. Perhaps the less common events are the types of horse racing with carts, which are a rarity. In this case, it focuses on the fastest horses and the races last less than a minute.

The 5 English classic horse races explained

Veteran punters using advanced Superfecta strategy to beat the odds in different types of bets on horseracing prefer English competitions. Now that you have the basic concepts about horse racing explained, we can check out the most important five events.

  1. Epsom Derby – commonly referred to as the Derby, allows colts and fillies up to three-year-olds. The event takes place in June at the Epsom Downs in Surrey England and it was established back in 1779. It is the perfect race to use the up and down bet examples to bet on some of the best English horses. The race spans over the course of one and a half miles and has a massive purse.
  2. Oaks – is among the most popular horse races and it takes place at the same track at the Epsom Derby. It was also established at the end of the 18th century and spans over the course of 1.5 miles. When placing a Tricast bet on this event, you should know that only three-year-old fillies participate. The name of the event comes from the 12th Earl of Derby who won the first race.
  3. One Thousand Guineas – was established in 1814 and it spans over a mile. This horse racing event takes place at the Newmarket in Suffolk and it involves three-year-old fillies. One of the most impressive horse results and this event was the victory of Scepter in 1902. People who know about horse racing remember the fact that he also won the Oaks, St. Leger and 2000 Guineas.
  4. Two Thousand Guineas – takes place at the same race as the 1000 Guineas and it was first run in 1809. Three-year-old colts up to 126 pounds and fillies up to 121 pounds can participate. It is one of the most exciting horse racing styles and an excellent opportunity for a tote win place bet.
  5. Saint Leger – one of the oldest types of horse racing, it was established back in 1778. It takes the name of Colonel Barry Saint Leger and it is an event for three-year-old fillies and calls. It takes place on a yearly basis at the Don Kaster, York Shire in September. It spanned over the course of 2 miles until 1813 when it was reduced to 1.75 miles.

Top 3 most important horse racing cups

Knowing what are the types of horse racing will allow you to bet on the most popular horse racing cups. This can also help for a virtual betting guide, as these competitions are available to virtual sports enthusiasts. These are the top three most important events scheduled on a yearly basis.

  1. Kentucky Derby – is the most important of all horse racing types and it has a prize purse of $3 million. It spans over 1.25 miles and takes place on the 1st Saturday in May. It is the most famous race in the world and it was first ran in 1875, being the US equivalent of the Epsom Derby.
  2. Dubai World Cup – the richest race in the world with a purse of $12 million, it spans over 1.25 miles. It takes place at the Meydan Racecourse on the last Sunday in March in the UAE. It was first held in 1996 and Thunder Snow is the only horse to win the competition twice in 2019.
  3. Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe – takes place on the first Sunday in October in Paris and spans over 1.5 miles. The prize purse is $5.6 million and the first race was ran in 1920. Three-year-old colts and fillies participate in this competition, featured at bookmakers offering all race horse types.

How to pick the best type of horse racing for you?

In order to be successful with any type of horse racing, you need to thoroughly understand the event. Research goes a long way and you need to put a lot of time into analyzing competitors. This includes jockeys and horses, as each has their strengths and weaknesses based on the type of the competition.

Hunt for the best odds and take advantage of promotions and any special offers available at online bookmakers. These will allow you to take advantage of fleeting opportunities and boost your bankroll without taking unnecessary chances. Pay attention to the wagering requirements and special conditions.

Equally important is to understand the meaning of each type of wagering. Learn what does bar mean in betting, and get familiar with terms such as trifecta, each way, and superfecta. If you want to find out how much a 50 cent trifecta box costs in 2024, check our updated article. When predictions and betting tips are available, take them into account but also with a pinch of salt. Do your own research but try to tap into the best knowledge of savvy punters who are familiar with different types of horse racing.

Pros and cons of various types of horse racing


  • Higher odds than on most sports
  • Incredibly exciting way of betting
  • Numerous bonuses at online bookmakers


  • High volatility that doesn’t suit risk-averse punters

Types of horse racing FAQ

The Mongol Derby is the longest and most demanding horse race, spanning over 1000 km.

The Kentucky Derby is the most popular of all race horse types and takes place every year in May.

Bill Shoemaker is regarded as the all-time greatest jockey and Secretariat is perhaps the best horse ever.

Horses can be both female and male and they frequently compete against each other with mixed results.

Competitors can be thoroughbred, Pinto, Freisian, Cleveland Bay, Arabian horse or Appaloosa.

Of all the competitors in different race horse types, Arrogate is the highest paid horse so far.

Various types of racing horses events, have black, chestnut, white, grey, brown and palomino horses.

Master the art of betting on different types of horse racing

Horse racing is just as exciting today as it was hundreds of years ago. There are more types of horse racing events for punters to bet on than ever before. Online bookmakers offer irresistible odds and an incredible variety of special betting options.

Once you understand each type of race and available betting options, all you need is research. Horse racing involves a high degree of volatility, which doesn’t make it ideal for risk-averse punters. If you don’t mind taking your chances for the sake of bigger winnings, you will have a lot of fun betting on horse races.