Types of Horse Racing

The horse races are known as the “sport of kings”. Perhaps its origin is older, but the most famous racing shows were organized in the Roman Empire (27 BC – 476 AD). The horses pulled carts where a driver was sitting and circled the circus several times, encountering certain obstacles that they had to avoid. Today, the love for the horse is very widespread, so we can find horse races in many countries.

Types of horse races

There are several types of races. We will classify them according to 5 parameters:
  • By pace: Gallop, jog or walk
  • Due to difficulty on the track: smooth track, track with fences, cross country
  • For the team: Chair, hitch
  • By distance: From 400 meters (1/4 mile), to 7240 meters (4 1/2 miles)
  • By the number of participants: Parejeras (2 horses), multiple (several horses)

Galloping horse racing (turf)

The most prestigious and popular competitions in the world of horse racing are those that take place at racetracks, with saddle horses, galloping, and on a flat track. The races in Great Britain, Ireland, France, the United States, Australia, Hong Kong and the Middle East enjoy a special reputation. This sport is one of the most organized and popular in the world, especially for its gambling character. That is also why in many countries, it is controlled by government agencies. Horse races can be arranged in a closed way: between horses of the same age, sex or race, or openly: different age, sex or race. The base weight that a horse must carry depends mainly on the age of the horses to which the race is open. Some races allow surcharges or discharges to this base weight, considering several factors such as the horse’s participation in other tests, the prizes obtained, or the rider’s license category. The handicap is a race in which all the participating horses should have the same chances of winning. The handicapper is responsible for assessing the horses and indicating the weight they should carry, considering the performances in public races and their results. The usual races are made on routes from 1000 to 1600 meters and the Grand Prix on routes from 1600 to 2500 meters. In several countries, there is a very special and difficult achievement, called “Triple Crown”. This award is granted to those who have won in one year, three of the most important races in their country, and repeat that for 3 years.


The racetracks are large (and in many cases spectacular) equestrian facilities equipped with a central oval track or similar shapes. There are also triangular shapes with ample curves in their edges. An example of that kind of track is racecourse in Ascot, United Kingdom. The tracks are sand or grass. Several racetracks have the two options together (one of them outside the other). Some tracks have a synthetic surface. The racetracks have a grandstand to accommodate spectators and include a betting sector and restaurant areas. They are also equipped with stables for horses that train daily and those who come to compete, and homes for their caretakers.

How many meters have a horse racing track?

Most racecourse tracks have a length that fluctuates between 2000 and 2400 meters. Some have variants in their layout, as an alternative for smaller races.

What are the most prominent races in the world?

Derby races are most prestigious and with higher money awards worldwide. With regard to smooth track races, among others, the most important are:
  • Royal Ascot (England)
  • Kentucky Derby (United States)
  • Dubai World Cup (United Arab Emirates)
  • Prix ​​de L’Arc de Triomphe (France)
  • Breeders Cup Classic (United States)
  • Japan Cup (Japan)

The Racehorse

More than 90% of the horses that participate in the races are thoroughbred. This breed is the result of the English passion for horse racing, and its birth is verified in the early eighteenth century with the cross of three English mares with three stallions of Arab origin. Thus, its neat selection allowed to obtain fast and resistant “galloping” horses. To be part of an official race, the horse must present his identification, by which he guarantees the importance of his genealogy. The thoroughbred is a breed of horses that develops earlier, which is why horses usually participate between 2-4 years, the youngest being the least demanded for longer races. A racehorse can cost large sums of money, so the people involved in their upbringing and development have specialized activities. Usually they are: the breeder (stud), the buyer (investor), the coach (care and training) and the rider (jockey). The thoroughbred is not the only breed that performs in horse racing. Not with equal success but there are also Arabian and Anglo-Arabian.

How much is the maximum speed a horse can run?

A horse-driven by its jockey can reach 60 km/hour in 2400 meters, 50 km/hour in 7000 meters, and in shorter distances, it could reach 70 km/hour.

Famous Horses

There are several horses that have made history in the races. As an example we could cite those who won the triple crowns of their respective countries.
  • Justify, triple crown, United States, 2018
  • Dundeel, triple crown, Australia, 2013
  • Orfevre, triple crown, Japan, 2011
  • Secretariat, triple crown, United States, 1973
  • Nijinsky, triple crown, United Kingdom, 1970
  • Perth, triple crown, France, 1899


You must be a very qualified person to establish the training criteria. In most countries, you need a license to be a professional horse coach. It is common for a coach to be a former rider or person with a lot of experience in handling racehorses. That way he can prepare the horse and correctly select the races, according to the characteristics and virtues of each equine. Training must be progressive both in distance and speed. It is very important for any horse to develop its momentum and desire to go forward, much more in a racehorse.

The rider or jockey

Like coaches, they require a license to carry out their work. For a jockey to also be the owner and / or coach, he must acquire the coach’s license.

How tall is a jockey?

Due to the need for the horse to carry little weight in a race, riders are usually people of short stature (1.50 meters) and low weight (48-50 kg).


Horse equipment

The saddle is quite light and has a special design with the skirts forward. Additionally, there is a collar or chest. Also a numbered blanket, and if necessary due to lack of weight, a blanket with compartments for lead. Horses may wear limb protectors, face shield, blinders and earplugs.

Rider equipment

The jockey wears riding pants, boots (without spurs), protective vest and approved helmet. Apart goes the jacket and a helmet-cap with the owner’s distinctive colors. The use of the whip with a dimension no bigger than 70 cm is allowed.
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