What is a stayer in horse racing?

A stayer is a term for a horse that can race over long distances and handle greater levels of fatigue


If you’re new to horse racing betting then you’re likely to encounter plenty of weird terminology that sounds like another language. Indeed, even experienced racing punters sometimes haven’t a clue what all the jargon means in the sport!

One of the terms you’re likely to come across is a ‘stayer’. This is a term that has seeped into the English language and is used every day to describe someone or something as durable.

And Paddy Power is here to explain what a stayer is, in the latest in our series of Demystifying Racing betting guides…

What is a stayer?

A stayer is a classic horse racing term used to describe horses that are capable of running over long distances. These horses are likely to be durable and have plenty of energy in them, but they don’t release it in short bursts, like sprinters do.

Grand National

The Grand National is one of the most arduous horse races in the world (Image: GETTY)

Owners and trainers quickly realise when developing a horse whether or not it will be a stayer. Indeed, a lot of work goes into training a thoroughbred so it can specialise in either long distance races or short sprints.

Grand National winners have to be stayers, otherwise they wouldn’t have the energy to get around Aintree’s 30-jump course. Likewise, you wouldn’t enter a stayer into the mega-short Temple Stakes at Haydock.


There are plenty of races across the UK and Ireland that are ‘stayers’ (i.e. held over long distances). These races all run for longer than two miles and include the Ascot Gold Cup, the St Leger Stakes, the Belmont Stakes in the US and Australia’s Melbourne Cup. The Cheltenham Festival also stages plenty of long-distance runs and subsequently attracts some of the world’s best stayers.

France, meanwhile, stages the Prix du Cadran every year. This 4km race held at Longchamp Racecourse every October is a lung-busting marathon for the horses, and only the best stayers can compete in such a battle. Famous champions of the Prix du Cadran include Vazirabad, Alandi and Westerner.


If a horse has a reputation as a stayer and it enters into a long race then they are likely to be towards the top of the racing betting odds. Yet race cards can sometimes be misleading with stayers races, because the form guide of each horse won’t stipulate the distances they have previously run.

So, when betting on stayers, be sure to check out the info guide attached to every runner in the Paddy Power race card. This is where you’ll discover if your pick truly has form over distance.

Chances are a horse selected for a stayer race is well versed in running over two miles. But it’s worth double checking before you place your bet!



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