What is a Black type horse race?

Everything you need to know about black type horse racing and the betting implications for punters

Paddy Power black type racing guide


Black type races may not be something you have come across but they are part of the horse racing jargon that often confuses punters.

That’s why Paddy Power have created the Demystifying Racing guides to help you understand what all the fuss is about and improve your racing betting knowledge.

So what is a black type race? Well, put simply it is a race of high pedigree that, if a horse wins, means its name will be printed in bold black type on racing and breeding reports. This means buyers and stud owners can more easily identify ‘better’ horses when bidding for them at auction.

If a horse wins a black type race, their name will also be CAPITALISED. But even placing in one of these races is enough to earn un-capped black type.

Horse racing auction book at Paddy Power

Now, for the average horse racing betting fan, reading the auction catalogues of thoroughbred horses and their breeding isn’t exactly relevant. After all, you’re trying to pick a winner, not a pedigree! However, if you hear that an upcoming race is of black type quality then you’ll know it meets a high standard.

In effect a black type race is a way of differentiating which races are more important than others, and thus which horses are in a more elite category.


Black type races originate from catalogues in the 1950s that indicated the quality of past races a horse had won. Their names would be written in bold black type, so bidders could understand more easily how good a horse actually was.

This evolved in the 1980s as the International Cataloguing Standards book was produced to outline the most important races in the world, while the Society of International Thoroughbred Auctioneers was also founded. The two worked to create an internationally-approved system for cataloguing horses and black type races.

Nowadays the term is used occasionally to describe a big race – such as those at Cheltenham – and to stress the importance of it for a horse or owner. Horses often build their reputation on winning black types.

Black type race Kentucky Derby at Paddy Power


The UK and Ireland boast plenty of black type races, which are identified as Group 1, 2 or 3 in the Flat season. The Epsom Derby, Irish Derby, Ascot Gold Cup, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes and the Dewhurst Stakes are all black type races. In the National Hunt season, Cheltenham Festival is littered with black types.

Around the world races such as the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, Breeders’ Cup, Kentucky Derby and Melbourne Cup are also black type.

And remember, the odds and racing betting rules don’t change for a black type race. It simply means the standard of the race is of high quality and certainly one to keep an eye on.



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