Horse racing is all about ensuring fair competition between the runners and riders in order to provide the best sporting experience for race-goers.
And so the Flat season makes sure to keep things competitive by grouping horses together into classifications. This is different to how they grade National Hunt races, but works in a similar vein.
It means us as punters can bet on horse racing knowing that the horses are at roughly the same level of ability, and that races will be close.
So what are these classifications all about? Well, Paddy Power is here to explain all as part of our Demystifying Racing series of guides.
DIFFERENT CLASSES OF HORSE RACE
Let’s first of all take a look at the Flat classifications. These range from Class 1 to Class 7 and are there to provide a sense of racing quality among the runners.
Class 1 races feature the best Flat horses in the UK and are listed handicap runs, while Class 7s offer less prestigious races. What’s important for racing betting fans, however, is not the quality of the race but the competitiveness of the field.
But how do we know which horses are better than others? Well, a horses Official Rating will be used to determine which class they can run in.
You can read more about different ratings in horse racing here!
- Class 1 – Official Ratings 96+. Features Classics and subdivided into Groups 1, 2 and 3
- Class 2 – Official Ratings range from 86-100, 91-105, 96-110
- Class 3 – Official Ratings range from 76-90 and 81-95
- Class 4 – Official Ratings range from 66-80 and 71-85
- Class 5 – Official Ratings range from 56-70 and 61-75
- Class 6 – Official Ratings range from 46-60 and 51-65
- Class 7 – Official Ratings range from 0-45
SO WHAT ARE GROUP RACES?
Flat racing also has what are called Group races. These are the elite-level races that all fall into the Class 1 category.
There are three Group levels and all horses carry the same weight (bar some small allowances).
This means a horses Official Rating does not affect the weight they carry. They have only their raw speed and ability to see them over the line.
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Right, so what are the Classics?
The Classics also fit within the Class 1 category of Flat horse racing and are actually Group 1 runs.
They are the five biggest Flat races of the year and attract the most attention from racing betting fans.
The Classics are:
- 1,000 Guineas – 1 mile race run at Newmarket every spring
- 2,000 Guineas – 1 mile race run at Newmarket every spring
- The Derby – 1 mile, 4 furlongs race run at Epsom every June
- The Oaks – 1 mile, 4 furlongs race run at Epsom every June
- The St Leger – 1 mile, 6 furlongs race run at Doncaster every September
HOW TO SPOT RACE CLASSIFICATION
You can easily spot the classification of a horse race when betting in the Paddy Power sportsbook.
The class is featured at the top of every race card, as shown here.
So next time you’re horse racing betting be sure to check out the class of your chosen race!
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