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Horse Racing - National Hunt Race Classificiation

National Hunt (or jumps) races are split into two categories, hurdle races and steeplechase (or chase) races. Steeplechases are run over distances from 2 to 4.5 miles and the horses have to jump fixed fences which are at least 2.4 feet high. Hurdle races are run over distances from 2 to 3.5 miles and are involve smaller less rigid obstacles which are at least 3.5 feet high. The hurdles often collapse when hit by a jumping horse.

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 - 12 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.

Listed Races

These are races just below group class.


Chase or hurdle race open only to horses which have not won that type of race before the start of the current season.

Juvenile Novice Hurdle

Hurdle race restricted to horses aged 3 at the start of the current season.

Hunter Chase

Weight for age chase confined to horses certified by a master of hounds to have been used in a hunt during the current year. Only ridden by amateur jockeys.

National Hunt Flat

Also known as "bumpers", these are races without jumps designed to give young horses race experience. They are usually restricted to horses between the ages of 4 and 6 who have not run under any recognised rules of racing, except bumpers.

Beginner Chase

Restricted to horses who have not won a chase race.


Restricted to horses who have not won that type of race.

Conditional Jockeys

For conditional jockeys only.


For amateur jockeys only.

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.




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