Flat, Steeplechase & Harness Horse Racing

Horse racing can be a complex sport for beginners and even amateur fans.

With the different types of bets, odds, names and numbers involved it is easy to feel overwhelmed when wagering.

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However, there are simple yet effective tips that bettors can take into account when betting on different types of races.

Flat Racing

This is the most common and probably the most popular form of racing in the world. As the name suggests, the race takes place on flat and even ground like a race track.

These races usually take place between March and November. These include races like the Kentucky Derby and the Breeders Cup.

Flat races are run over a number of different distances, from 5 furlongs (which is just over 1,000m) to over 2 miles.

The longest (and also oldest) flat race in America is the Belmont Stakes, which is part of the Triple Crown. The race is 1.5 miles long.

Tips for wagering

One of the most important factors to remember when betting on flat races is to pay attention to the weather conditions. Most punters do not realize that there is a ‘golden period’ that bookmakers dread where conditions are excellent for riding. This means that the animals ride faster and more smoothly, which in turn produce punter friendly results.

Therefore, it is more profitable if you avoid betting large amounts and wait for the perfect moment – normally a warm April/May.

Another tip to keep in mind is do not follow the crowd and give in to the hype of one particular horse. As mentioned before, flat racing is the most popular form therefore rumours and gossip from racing ‘insiders’ surface very easily. It is important to keep in mind that these ‘tips’ could be false and it is better to research the field yourself.

Kentucky Derby


The steeplechase is a long-distance race but instead of the race run on a flat surface, competitors are required to jump over fences and dodge obstacles.

The race is also referred to as ‘jump racing’ or ‘National Hunt Racing’ due to the hunting heritage first associated with the race.

The most famous Steeplechase in the world is the Grand National in Britain where the prize money is approximately $1,500,000 million.

Hurdle races

Hurdle races require horses to jump over hurdles while racing.

These types of races tend to be run over shorter distances, about 2 to 3½ miles. Each hurdle is at least 1 metre (3½ feet) high.

Hence races

These are more challenging than hurdle races as the fences are at least 1.4 metres (4½ feet) high and run over extremely long distances of between 2 and 4½ miles.

The most famous steeplechase in America is the Breeders’ Cup Grand National Steeplechase, which is 2 5/8 mile course and 14 fences.

Betting on Steeplechase’s

When betting on a steeplechase it is extremely important to know the sex of the animal in order to make a good wagering choice.

For a steeplechase, a ‘filly’, which is a female horse before the age of 5 has an advantage over the field as obstacle/fence clearing is easier for them.

If you are thinking of betting on a stallion, it is essential to make sure the horse is a ‘gelding’, which is a castrated male horse, again this makes obstacle’s clearance easier and faster giving you a better chance of winning.

Steeplechase racing

Want to practice your betting skills? Pick an event from our list of the greatest racecourses in the America. 

Harness Racing

This is one of the most less common types of racing. The jockey does not exactly sit on the horse, instead, the rider sits in a sulky, a two-wheeled cart pulled by the horse.

This form of racing is very disciplined the jockey must keep control at all times at a pace called a trot as if the horse would gallop with the sulky it could cause serious injuries to the jockey.

In America this form is racing is restricted Standardbred horses.

Harness Racing Tips

This might seem like a simple and quite obvious advice but many punters forget about this essential factor for winning on harness races.

Before betting on a harness race it is important to check that the horse is actually a trotting or canter specialist, and has a lot of experience in these types of races as if the horse accelerates into a gallop the horse is automatically disqualified.

Furthermore, French racehorses are better equipped and trained at harness racing. Therefore if there is a French horse on the programme it might be worth your while to take a chance on the foreign horse.

Harness Racing
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