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Horse Racing - Flat Race Classification

Almost half of the races run in the UK are handicaps. A full breakdown of the UK handicap system and the various races is in the handicapping section. The many other types of races are explained below.

Group Races

These are the highest class of races. They are rated Group 1,2 and 3 with 1 being the highest class of race run in the UK. They are also known are pattern races. And all horses carry the same weight - 9 stone. Winners and placed horses of this type of race are said to have achieved "black type" because they and their immediate family are shown in black type in sales catalogues and are therefore seen as more valuable.

The five classic races of the season are all Group 1 races. The classics are,

  • Derby
  • Oaks
  • 1000 Guineas
  • 2000 Guineas
  • St Leger

Listed Races

These are races just below group class.

Conditions Stakes

These are races for horses just below top class and the weight carried depends on the conditions of the race. The conditions relate to age and/or sex and not ratings.

Classified Stakes

Races with a maximum rating for horses who have run at least three times or have run twice and won at least once.


For horses that have never won a race.

Auction Maiden

For 2 year olds sold at public auction as yearlings or 2 year olds for a price not exceeding a specified amount.

Median Auction Maiden

For 2 year olds by stallions who had one or more yearlings sold in the previous year with a median price not exceeding a specified amount.


For 2 or 3 year olds who have not won more than twice.

Novice Auction

For novices sold at public auction as yearlings or 2 year olds for a price not exceeding a specified amount.

Claiming Stakes

The horse's weight is determined by the price placed on them by connections. The lower the claiming price the lower the weight carried. Horses can be bought (or claimed) by other owners and trainers for the specified price after the race.


Low class races where the winner is offered for public auction after the race.


For apprentice jockeys only. Jockeys are not allowed their apprentice claim is this type of race.


For amateur jockeys only.


For female amateur and apprentice jockeys only.


For male amateur jockeys only.




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