What does a maiden mean in horse racing?

Maidens are part of horse racing betting terminology that you may not have come across before

maiden race horse racing betting guide


Horse racing betting involves plenty of jargon that many newcomers to the sport may be unfamiliar with. While you may be confident placing a bet on a winner, or backing an Each Way runner at Cheltenham, there is other terminology that even wise racing punters may not know about.

One of these is maiden races, and specifically what a horse has to do to become known as a maiden. This guide from Paddy Power will teach you everything you need to know about maiden horses, and why they are great to bet on!

What is a maiden in horse racing?

A maiden may refer to two things in horse racing. It is a term assigned to a horse that has never won a race in its career — and it is also a term for a race featuring only these unlucky horses!

A maiden horse remains a maiden until it wins a race. That sounds pretty simple. The horse may take only a couple of races before it bursts from the pack and crosses the line first. Or, it could be years until a horse finally claims victory and enjoys the celebrations its peers have long-since got used to.

maiden race horse racing betting guide

Maiden races can feature horses with a wide range of experience levels (Image: GETTY)

Maiden horses are usually inexperienced newcomers to the sport, with owners who are keen to push them onto better things fast. Often if a horse hasn’t won a race within its first year or two then it will struggle to improve its horse racing rating, and therefore not be able to race at more prestigious meetings.

So, what is A MAIDEN RACE?

A maiden race is therefore a race featuring only maiden horses. Sounds simple, right? Well, there are other conditions attached too, such as the age or sex of the horse. This means that maiden races are generally competitive and can deliver better racing betting odds for punters.

If you’re looking to bet on horse racing, then maiden races can be a great source of wins. The Paddy Power race card can show you the form of each runner and whether or not they are on course for a win soon, or should be dismissed as a no-hoper.


There are plenty of maiden races staged every year in the UK and Ireland. During the National Hunt season there are plenty of maiden hurdles to bet on, from Punchestown to Ascot. Many smaller racecourses also feature maiden hurdles and maiden Flat races because they are of lower quality than graded races.

There aren’t really any elite maiden races to bet on, largely because the runners are not yet of the quality to attract much attention. However, maidens are often a sign for betting fans that the race will be competitive — and that’s great if you fancy backing a long-odds horse for the chance to win a big payout. 


Check out these other horse racing guides as part of our Demystifying Racing series…


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