Horse racing on the flat takes place in the United Kingdom all year round. The main season runs from March through to November with races run primarily on the grass (turf). There is also the all-weather tracks throughout the year though this type of racing is more prominent over the winter months.

Horse races run on the flat (turf) and all-weather tracks in the UK fall in to certain categories each with specific qualifying conditions as to which horses may enter and run. The lowliest class is known as a “seller” and then highest class being a “Group One”. Let’s take a quick overview of each type.

Selling Races
Any race with the word seller or selling in the title basically means that the winner is subject sale by public auction in the winners’ enclose. If it is not sold, it is retained by the owner. Any other horse can generally be “claimed” by another owner for a set price, usually only a few thousand pounds. Selling races are considered the lowest class of flat racing.

Claiming Races
Any raced with the word claiming or claimer in the title means that all horses in the race can be claimed by another owner for a set price. Depending on the entry conditions the claiming price can affect the amount of weight the horse carries. An owner running their horse in a claimer does risk losing it, though that is often why horses are entered – the current owner wants to get it off the books.

Handicap Races
This type makes up the majority of flat races in the horse riding middlesbrough UK. Horses are given a handicap rating based on their performances. The better the horse performs, the higher the rating. Each horse carries an amount of weight relative to its handicap mark. The theory being that the weight evens out the ability and all horses should cross the line together. Of course that doesn’t happen. For example a horse rated 80 would carry ten pounds of weight more than a horse rated 70.

Handicaps come in various forms with different qualifying conditions. For example they may be for horses rated between 45 – 55 or horse rated 80 – 90. Horse with lower ratings than the stated minimum can still enter though if they get in to the race may have to carry a higher weight than they strictly should on their handicap mark. This is known as “overweight”.

Listed Races
This is a step above a handicap. If you have a horse good enough to run in Listed races then you are doing very well indeed. Particularly noteworthy for fillies with potential to become broodmares as a filly placing in a Listed race earns “black type” in the sales catalogues.

Group Races
This type of race is as good as it gets. Real top class. There are three types – Group 3, Group 2 and Group 1 – with the latter being the absolute top of the ladder. Group 1 races include the five English classics such as the 1,000 Guineas, 2000 Guineas, the Oaks, the Derby and the St. Ledger.