What is the difference between graded, handicap and selling horse races?

Graded, handicap and selling are all types of horse races — but what’s the difference between them? Paddy explains all…

Horse race type graded, handicap and selling

Horse racing jargon is one of the trickiest to tackle in any sport. And we know just how complex it feels for newcomers betting on racing. From racing odds to form guides, jockey silks to Cheltenham tips, understanding the world of horse racing isn’t easy.

That’s why Paddy Power is here to help with our latest Demystifying Racing guide on three major types of race.

This guide will take you through the difference between graded, handicap and selling horse races so you can gain greater knowledge of the sport before placing your bets!

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What is a graded horse race?

Graded horse races are found during the National Hunt season and are the pinnacle of the sport.

They feature the best jumps horses in the UK and Ireland and boast some of the biggest prize purses in the world.

The Grade system is split into Grades 1, 2 and 3. These are followed by listed races and then six lesser class divisions below.

Grade 1 races include the Cheltenham Gold Cup and the King George VI Chase. The UK and Ireland will stage around 150 graded races during the NH season each year.

Cheltenham horse racing general view

Cheltenham Festival features a host of graded horse races (GETTY)

What is a handicap race?

A handicap race is simply a horse race where some of the runners have been given a different weight allowance to others.

Horses run with lead weights attached to their saddles in order to even out the contest. A handicapper will decide the weight a horse must carry, depending on its age, sex, experience of the jockey and other factors.

What’s more, a horses Official Rating (OR) will also be used to determine its handicap. The higher the horses OR, the more weight it will carry. The weight added to the horse includes the weight of its jockey.

Handicap races are great for horse racing betting because the odds can fluctuate depending on how much weight a horse is carrying. A horse currently enjoying a strong run of form may be given more weight, which could affect its odds and make them more viable to bet on.

Selling race

Horses that win a selling race will be put to auction (GETTY)

What is a selling race?

A selling race is one of the most basic forms of horse racing in the UK and Ireland.

It features inexperienced horses from owners who are hoping to sell them on if they win the race.

In selling races, whichever horse claims victory will immediately be put to auction. These races are generally low in standard but can nevertheless produce against-the-odds shocks in the racing betting markets as the horses are largely untested.


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