Various Types of Horse Racing that You Can Bet On

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While most of us are aware of horse racing, the vast majority of spectators aren’t cognisant of the full scope of this sport and the different types of horse racing that a punter can bet his money on. 

Horse racing is one of the most enduring spectator sports, with an impressive history that stretches back to ancient times.  Today, horse racing remains as well-liked as it has been throughout the ages.

As a spectator, you are probably familiar with a specific style of horseracing that you enjoy.  However, horse racing is so much more than what we usually see on tv.  There are several different styles of racing, with each one often further divided into subcategories.

Whatever your preferred style, what connects each of the horseracing methods is the possibility of earning money through betting.  Every time a horse takes to the track, a combination of athletic prowess, jockey skill and betting potential contribute to the ageless allure of this sport.

Different Styles of Horse Racing

There are many ways to ride a horse, and unique characteristics of each style have created preferences amongst bettors over the years:

Thoroughbred Racing

Thoroughbred is the most popular type of horseracing, with all horses that participate tracing their lineage back to a small group of equines from the 17th century.  Horses begin their training at the age of two and are trained on flat, round tracks.

Thoroughbred is not a free-for-all where any horse can race.  Methods of classification are essential in these races to distinguish horses according to their strengths and weaknesses.  These differentiators include:

  • Surface – While most thoroughbred racing is associated with dirt surfaces, many famous racecourses provide grass surface tracks. However, in an attempt to keep horses as healthy as possible, a new generation of synthetic surface tracks has become popular.
  • Distance – Thoroughbred races can be split into two distances: distance racing and sprints. Distance races are always longer than a mile and require two or more turns, while sprints are under a mile and have one or no turns.  The horse’s bloodline usually determines what distance the horse is predisposed to.
  • Classification – Many racetracks host events based on the age and gender of the horses that participate (e.g. a race exclusive to three-year-old fillies). There’s also classification of the races themselves (e.g. claimers, where each horse is up for sale; allowances, which is limited to horses that have won a certain number of races; and stakes, where owners need to pay a portion of the purse before their horses can participate.

Harness Racing

Although not as prestigious as thoroughbred racing, harness racing boasts an impressive track record dating back to the Roman times.  In this type of racing, horses pull drivers behind them on a cart called a sulky.  The horses that take part in these races are classified as standardbreds.

There are some similarities, as well as differences, between harness and thoroughbred racing: 

  • Similarities – As in thoroughbred racing, harness races are also subdivided into claimers, allowances and stakes. Additionally, the way the races are bet is similar for both, where you can bet on the end ranking of a horse or on exotic bets (trifecta, exacta or daily doubles).
  • Differences – Standardbred horses are allowed only two gaits – pacing and trotting. This means that the standardbred races tend to be slower than thoroughbred ones and the races are often close calls with less decisive winners.  Also, unlike thoroughbred races that generate from a stationary starting gate, harness races generally start by a moving gate attached to a vehicle.   


Steeplechasing is jump racing and is characterised by obstacles that horses need to jump over on their way to the finish line.  Steeplechase horses are often bred for this purpose although it is not uncommon to see a thoroughbred being trained for the jumps.

Horse racing entails many different styles, as well as various horse breeds that participate in these races.  The good thing is that all of these horseracing styles are open to betting and you can enjoy both the spectacle and a great chance of winning, each time that you buy your ticket.

Bojan Lipovic - Digital Project Manager

Bojan Lipovic - Digital Project Manager

Besides polishing his SEO skills, Bojan has a penchant for creative writing. With over half a decade of experience in the online gambling industry under his belt, his written take on the latest news from the Canadian and global gambling industries is an indispensable source of information for the CASINOenquirer team. Bojan’s primary goal is to ensure that players get a superior experience through the top-notch content that he shares.

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