National Hunt Jumps Vs Flat Racing - What's the difference?

Altior jumps a fence

The horse racing season is one that is much more complex than other sports. Different types of races on different racecourses around the country shape the 365 days within the year for horse racing. These two are known as national hunt racing and flat racing, and we’re here to explain the differences between the two and what to look out for within each one.

Nation Hunt Racing Jumps Racing Explained

The jumps season runs through the winter months to put it simply sees racehorses jump over hurdles or other obstacles in order to get around a course. This can make betting on the national hunt jumps riskier in case your horse is to fall at a hurdle. Let's now take a look at everything you need to know regarding jumps racing.

When it’s jump season?

The Unibet Jumps Season Opener gets the jump season underway in October, with this race running between 8th October and the 9th October. Once this race is complete, the jumps season will run until Finals Day in April. Some jump races run between the end of April and start of July but these are not considered part of the Championship.

How to work out how many jumps are in a race?

To see how many jumps there are in a race, simply head to the race on the bookmakers’ site and it will let you know what is expected in that race. You can also stay tuned to the TWEnclosure social media accounts, and we will have all this for you.

Current biggest horses in jump racing

Altior, Don Cossack, Hurricane Fly, Long Run and Un De Sceaux are all notable horses in the jump season, with Tiger Roll perhaps being the most well-known name to horse racing bettors.

Biggest national hunt races in the UK and globally

The national hunt races in the UK are known worldwide. The Cheltenham Gold Cup is the most prestigious race of this calendar and it is also the most valuable non-handicap chase in the UK. The Grand National comes just after this, which is the most famous jumps race in the world.

The Queen Mother Champion Chase is another monumental occasion. This national hunt Two-Mile Champion Chase was renamed as the Queen Mother Champion Chase in 1980 as a tribute to the Queen Mother.

Most successful National hunt trainers

Fulke Walwyn is looked at as one of the first truly great trainers to come from national hunt racing as he won 40 races at the Cheltenham Festival between the years 1945-1986, which still stands as a record. Martin Pipe is generally considered as the best to ever do it in the national hunt world, and his tally of 15 champions trainer titles is yet to be matched. There is also Fred Winter who matches his excellent success as a rider in the world of training horses too.

What is the difference between hurdles and fences?

Fences and hurdles are obstacles in a national hunt race and they differ in their approach by jockeys because of their height and rigidity. Hurdles are used in hurdle races and they consist of individual panels of cut brushwood, which each sit at a height of at least 3’6”.

Fences are not used in these races and are instead used for steeplechase races and they are much higher than hurdles. Steeplechase fences typically consist of a wooden frame ir steel and they are filled with artificial or real birch. Moreover, steeplechase fences must be a minimum of 4’ 6” in height unless for a water jump race, where they can be lower.

What are novice races for?

A novice race is a flat race for horses who have not yet won more than two flat races and who have also not won a flat race in Class 1 or more than one flat race which is classified as Class 2. Ultimately, these races are strictly for, you guessed it: novices.

What are bumper races?

National Hunt flat races are also known as bumper races. They are a type of flat racing under national hunt racing rules in Great Britain and Ireland. These bumper races are for horses who have not previously run under any other form of racing except National Hunt flat and this type of race restricts horses to aged seven years or less in the UK.

Flat Racing Explained

Flat racing as the name suggests is when horses race on a flat surface with no jumps. This means the race is more about raw speed than anything else. Although, of course there are other factors that contribute such as the going and surface. Let's take a look at everything you need to know regarding flat racing.

What time of the year does flat racing take place?

Flat racing is more commonly held year-round and doesn’t necessarily take a specified prolonged break. The first meetings within flat racing start around the end of March will go until the start of winter, as Doncaster's November meet is traditionally the closing race of the flat racing campaign.

Most successful flat horses and trainers

John Gosden, Sir Michael Stoute, Richard Hannon, Aidan O’Brien, Charlie Appleby, Saeed bin Suroor, William Haggas, Joseph O’Brien, Mark Johnston, and Mark Johnston are all looked at as the most famous and successful flat horse trainers in the world.

In 1970, Nijinsky became the first horse in 35 years to win the English Triple Crown and he remains one of the best ever. Dancing Brave, Shergar, and Sea The Stars are all seens as other successful greats, while Frankel is often judged as the greatest flat horse in history too.

How long are flat races?

Race distances in flat racing differ greatly, with horses expected to run over a variety of distances. Flat races are run over a minimum of five furlongs (1,000 metres), up to a maximum of nearly two miles and six furlongs.

Why do horses start in stalls in flat racing?

Just like athletic racing for humans, the starting stalls are simply the starting blocks for the horses so every horse starts on a level playing field. The stalls spring open when the race begins.

Why handicaps are the most common type of racing contest

Handicap races enable horses of varied ability to race together and this is only determined through the allocation of weight to a horse. For example, the higher the handicap per horse would mean more weight is added to the horse.

What are Juvenile contests?

Juvenile contests are for the less experienced horses, as the name suggests. These juvenile races are there for horses to develop strength, speed, and their overall experience of race day.

What are the different types of flat racing tracks?

  • Dirt/sand

The track conditions for UK and Irish races will differ entirely for the weather but dirt/sand is the fastest of all surfaces when very firm. They are the most common track type in North and South America.

  • Synthetic tracks

Synthetic courses are also a thing in the horse racing world, which help recreate the grass turf and dirt. They are common in Europe and the United States.

  • Grass

Good, good to firm, soft, good to soft, firm, and heavy are all ways in which grass races are determined in terms of how fast horses can run on them.

Biggest flat events in the UK and world

Victor Chandler Chase (Ascot), Champion Hurdle (Cheltenham), Queen Mother Champion Chase (Cheltenham), World Hurdle (Cheltenham), Grand National (Aintree), Cheltenham Gold Cup (Cheltenham), Gold Cup (Ascot) and St. Leger Stakes (Doncaster) are all looked at as the major flat races in the UK.

Should you bet on jump or flat racing?

You should consider betting on both, as many different markets and offers come up for each racing event. There is more consistency in flat racing and there tend to be more common winners as it is simply a race to the finish, which does in turn sometimes not make the odds as high. Jump races see more outsiders have good chances to win and each-way betting is subsequently more popular in this one as a result.

Do you need to specialise in jumps or flat racing?

No. Many punters do specialize in jumps or flat racing and are referred to as seasonal punters, but in reality, anybody can master both sides of horse racing and punters will be knowledgeable about both of them, however, each will likely have their preference.

Betting advice for different types of racing?

Flat racing betting advice

Flat racing is all about the speed and strength of a horse. The horses will run with no obstacles so it is a very statistically-backed race where the very best tend to shine. It's important to see what trainers and jockeys partake in the flat racing and see if they tend to favour these types of races more.

Jumps racing betting advice

For jumps racing, punters want to look at the horses and the track they’re racing on. The horse's skill, speed, endurance and speed are all the main factors when betting on jump races, simply because of the fences and hurdles in the way throughout the race.