Jumps Racing vs Flat Racing

What are the main differences between Jumps Racing vs Flat Racing?

As the relative titles would suggest, the Flat season sees horses competing on ‘the level’ – races run without obstacles to get over, where, as a general rule there is greater emphasis on speed – the minimum trip is 5f, heading up to around 2m5f. The Jumps, or more accurately the National Hunt season, sees both horse and jockey competing by jumping over Hurdles and Fences. Hurdles being smaller than Fences, of which the latter which can vary in size and style. There are a few ‘flat’ races as part of the National Hunt programme, and these are known colloquially as ‘Bumpers’.

Jumps Racing

Jumps races take place over longer distances, ranging from 2m up to 4m2f, where there is a greater emphasis on stamina as opposed to the usual speedsters you would see on the Flat. The Derby, raced at Epsom, would be one of the most famous Flat races, where the Champion middle-distance 3-year-old is crowned. Royal Ascot is the flagship meeting for the Flat Season, taking place in June each year, where the world’s top thoroughbreds lock horns in what is a stunning week of action. In regards to Jumps, there are two standout fixtures – the Cheltenham Festival, which takes place every March, with the Grade 1 Cheltenham Gold Cup being the highlight, and the Grand National meeting which takes place every April in Aintree, Liverpool. The Grand National itself, is the world’s most famous steeplechase, and the most ‘bet-on’ race during the racing calendar. The race sees competitors tackle a course which contains 30 fences, and lasts two circuits of the track. Racing over an extended 4m2f, it is a unique test for both horse and jockey. Red Rum would be the most famous horse to have had success in a Grand National, winning it three times in the 1970’s.

Flat Racing

With horses racing from the age of two, Flat racing takes place all year round on a mixture of Turf and synthetic surfaces known as the ‘All-Weather’, but specifically, the Flat Jockeys Championship runs from May to October, in which the jockey with the most wins in that set period is crowned the Champion Jockey for the season. In recent seasons, the Championship has been dominated by jockeys William Buick and Oisin Murphy. Gordon Richards holds the record for the most titles, having won 26 of them between 1925 and 1953. As a general rule, the Jumps Jockey Championship takes place over 12 months running from April to April. Sir Anthony McCoy would be one of the all-time greats as a Jump Jockey; he won the Jumps Jockey Championship 20 times before retiring in 2015.

Divisions of Jumps Racing vs Flat Racing

There are different divisions within Jumps Racing; There are Handicaps, Novice races and Conditions races. As a general rule, Novice races are for horses who are racing in their first season over Hurdles or Fences, or if they haven’t won a race in that discipline. In a Handicap, horses and jockeys carry different weights depending on their ability. Conditions races tend to be a ‘higher’ level of horse, and they compete off the same weight in these races.

In Flat racing, 2-year-olds race in what are known as Juvenile races, and the 3-year-old season is known as the ‘Classic generation.’ In both codes, sometimes you have races designed for just female horses to compete in. Female horses are known as ‘Fillies’, and as they get to the age of five, they become ‘Mares’

The Jumps Season – Dates For Your Diary

  • Paddy Power Gold Cup – November
  • Tingle Creek – December
  • King George Chase – December
  • Cheltenham Festival – March
  • Aintree Grand National Festival – April

The Flat Season – Dates For Your Diary

  • 1000 & 2000 Guineas – May
  • The Oaks & Derby – June
  • Royal Ascot – June
  • York’s Ebor Festival – August
  • St Leger – September
  • Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe – October
  • Champions Day at Ascot – October