What is a claiming race and what do they mean?

Check out Paddy's complete guide to claiming races in horse racing so you can make smarter bets today

Claiming race horse racing betting guide


Claiming races may not get the recognition that top Grade races like the Cheltenham Gold Cup or the Champion Hurdle earn, but they remain an integral part of horse racing betting.

They are the lowest run of the horse racing hierarchy, with many untested and unwanted horses competing against in other in low-key events. And while the average punter might not even realise a claiming race is taking place, for those involved in buying and selling horses it’s a vital revenue stream in the industry.

So what exactly is a claiming race? Well, Paddy Power is on hand to explain everything you need to know about claiming races, and why they’re great to bet on!


A claiming race works generally the same across all racing territories but is most popular in the United States. All horses entered into a claiming race can be ‘claimed’ by a buyer before the race begins.

This gives owners the chance to offload horses they may not want, or for buyers to snap up a potentially lucrative runner for future events.

Each claiming race has a set fee for all competing horses, which rises and falls depending on how much weight the owner decides to take off. So, if there is a £10,000 fee for horses in a claiming race at Uttoxeter and a maximum weight of 10 stone, every pound the owner takes off – and thus increases the chance of their horse winning – sees £1,000 knocked off its claim price.

Buyers have until around 15 minutes before a race to make a claim on a competing horse. And, once the race gets underway then the ownership transfers over.

Claiming race horse racing betting guide

Claiming races are popular in the UK, Ireland and USA (Image: GETTY)


There are many reasons why claiming races were created and why they remain popular, even if the standard is low. The primary reason is that it gives horse racing a trading market that injects liquidity into the sport. It also draws attention to particular horses, who may have a raft of bids placed on them before the race begins.

For the average punter claiming race are great because the standard is generally accepted to be level. This means even outsiders could cause a shock against the odds and claim a victory.


The United States trades hundreds of horses each year through claiming races and you’re likely to see them at regular race meetings across the country.

The likes of Churchill Downs, Oaklawn and Fairgrounds often see annual trade totals via claiming races push into millions of dollars! It’s big business for owners and also for punters, as there are often indications of what to expect from horses when you check out the weights.

If an owner has dramatically dropped the weight of their horse then it’s clear they want to sell. This might suggest the horse is considered past its best, or doesn’t have the potential for greater things.

So, horses that retain their full weight and have a strong recent form are the ones racing betting fans often look out for.

Now you know all you need to know about claiming races, why not check out our other racing guides in our Demystifying Racing series here!



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