There are 2 popular types of horse racing that take place in Great Britain: these are Flat Racing, and National Hunt Racing. In this ‘Horse Racing Explained‘ article, we explain the difference between these two types of the sport. We also explain what exactly a furlong is (a common term you will hear in relation to the length of horse races).
- Flat Racing – run on courses where there are no obstacles present (i.e. it is flat). Distances for Flat Racing are between 5 furlongs 2 miles to 2 miles 5 furlongs 159 yards. Some of the best examples of flat races are the Royal Ascot festival, and the five races known as the British Classics – 1,000 Guineas (Newmarket), 2,000 Guineas (Newmarket), The Oaks (Epsom Downs), The Derby (Epsom Downs), and St.Leger (Doncaster).
- National Hunt Racing – run on courses with obstacles, taking the form of a Hurdles race or a Steeplechase race. They are generally run over longer distances (2 miles to 4 and a half miles) than the Flat Racing mentioned above. The best examples of National Hunt Racing are the Grand National (Aintree) and the Cheltenham Festival.
- Please note slightly confusingly, there are also National Hunt Flat Races (also known as Bumpers) – which are run under National Hunt rules, but there are no obstacles on the course (13 – 20 furlongs are common distances for these races). However, National Hunt Flat Races are not that common in Great Britain, and in any case are usually low quality (although it can be hard to pick a winner). These are usually used to give inexperienced horses training, before they start jump racing.
What’s a furlong?
In the UK & Ireland (as well as the USA and Canada), horse race distances are measured in miles and furlongs. One furlong is equivalent to one-eight of a mile (so 8 furlongs make up one mile). Also you might like to know that 1 furlong is 220 yards.
Hopefully, our Horse Racing Explained article will help you understand the plethora of betting opportunities at bookmakers.