There are two main types of racing to enjoy in the UK – flat racing and jumps racing. They come in various forms and are raced over various distances, but at the heart of racing is the distinction between the two types of racing. As you start to gather your tips from Timeform, stop for a moment to take a look at our guide: flat racing vs jumps racing: what’s the difference between the two?
Flat races, as the name suggests, sees horses and their riders compete on a flat course that does not include any form of obstacle such as hurdles and fences. These races are a test of speed and strength rather than skill and finesse. There is also a lot of emphasis put on the jockey in flat racing as they need to get their race tactics right in order to stand a chance of winning. They need to be able to select the right ‘path’ around the track and also to make the right decision about when to overtake other horses and when to push their horse to the limit. This type of racing can be very exciting to watch and many bettors spend a lot of time looking into the form and performance of the horse and jockey in order to determine their potential for success in a flat race. In the UK, the vast majority of flat races are run on grass. The distance over which flat races take place varies from five furlongs to two miles. Horses are entered for races based on sex, age and ability. Some of the most famous and popular UK flat races include races that take place at Royal Ascot and The Derby Festival.
Jumps racing, as the name suggests, sees horses run around a course that has obstacles placed at various intervals. The official name for jumps racing is National Hunt racing. Races are held over two to four miles and generally take place in the autumn, winter and spring. The obstacles being tackled can range from hurdles – small barriers made from brush – to fences (taller obstacles made from hardwood) and ditches and water obstacles. Jumps racing combines speed and agility and can be very exciting to watch. Races that include jumps are bumpers, hurdles races, steeplechases and handicaps. Horses and their riders need to ride with confidence, and the horse needs to have developed a good jumping technique before being entered in a jumps race. Many horses start with courses that involve hurdles and then progress to courses with fences and other obstacles. Horses that have become too slow to race in flat racing may be retrained in jumps racing and for this reason there does tend to be older horses involved in jumps racing. The horses tend to be a little bigger and more elegant than the fast horses seen in flat racing. Some of the most famous and popular jumps races include at the Cheltenham Festival and The Grand National.