How Often Do Horses Race?
How often do racehorses run, isn’t a question you can give an exact answer to. This is because horses, just like human beings, are very different from each other. Owners and trainers need to find the right balance of running a horse often enough for it to maximize its earning potential. But they must also give a horse enough time to recuperate between its races, decreasing the chance of potential injuries and increasing its chances of having a long and prosperous career.
How Often Do Flat Horses Run?
Flat horses can start racing from the age of two and some racehorses are bred to be precocious younger horses. This means that they are horses that will be faster and better than many other two-year-olds, but they are unlikely to continue that progression later in their careers.
The advantage of having such an exciting young horse is that there are lots of lucrative prizes for 2-year-olds and lots of owners that want to buy horses that can race often at a young age. That’s why this type of two-year-old may race between five and 10 times in its 2-year-old season, as its connections know that this is probably going to be its best season.
Some flat horses may only run once or twice as two-year-olds, and these horses are often referred to as late-maturing types. Their connections aren’t too bothered if they don’t win any race as two-year-olds as they are viewed as long-term prospects that will improve with age.
Late-maturing types are often horses that will run over middle-distances throughout their career, maybe 10-12 furlongs or even further. The Derby, Oaks, King George, and St Leger are all big races that these horses may be aimed at.
Connections may also be hoping that these horses can race on to four, five, six, and even older in some cases. However, if they are top-class, their careers could be cut short so they can start a career as a stallion – as this is where the big money is in horse racing.
Enable is a great example of a late-maturing horse that has excelled. The John Gosden-trained mare raced just once on the all-weather as a 2-year-old, winning a prize of just £2,911.05. But she raced seven times as a 3-year-old, winning top-class races such as the Oaks, Irish Oaks, King George, Yorkshire Oaks, and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.
Further big-race successes followed at the ages of four, five, and six and, by the time she had run just 17 times, Enable had amassed over £10 million in prize money. When her career is over, she is also likely to enjoy a fantastic career as a broodmare, with her offspring likely to fetch millions if sold by her owner Khalid Abdullah.
Of course, not every flat horse can be as big a success as Enable, and trainers and owners must treat each horse on its merits. If they own a sprinter that runs over five and six furlongs, these can normally race more often than horses that run over 10 and 12 furlongs, as they are not using as much energy as the middle-distance horse.
The other point that may dictate how often a horse runs is the handicapper. After a horse has won, a trainer may have a period in which they can run their horse gain before its mark is reassessed by the handicapper. Trainers will often try and pick up another race in this period, when they may not have run their horse again so quickly if this opportunity wasn’t there.
How Often Do Jumps Horses Run?
National Hunt horses that race over hurdles or fences are bred very differently from flat horses, as most are bred to start racing at the age of either five or six and can often race past the age of 10. There are hurdle races for horses aged three and four but these are often horses that have raced on the flat first or have come over from France where horses start their jumping careers earlier.
Most National Hunt-bred horses in the UK and Ireland will start off in a bumper (National Hunt flat race), which gives them the chance to learn how to race before going over jumps. Other jumps horses may come through the point-to-point fields, which are basically races in which breeders can showcase their horses to potential buyers.
Many jumps horses will start off over hurdles and the smaller speedier types may stay over the smaller obstacles. But those horses that are bred for chasing will often peak at the ages of seven, eight, and nine. Some of these may race on into double-figure ages, but top-class jumps horses often only have two or three years at the top before age catches up with them and they are surpassed by the next generation of stars.
When Should I Bet On Different Types Of Horses?
If you study horse racing, you’ll notice patterns regarding the way that many trainers campaign their horses. This is often because trainers buy a certain type of horse. Archie Watson, who is a relatively new addition to the flat racing ranks, has already made a name for himself as an excellent trainer of 2-year-olds.
By contrast, Sir Michael Stoute is renowned for training late-maturing types that will continue to improve throughout their careers and are often best at the ages of four and five.
Paul Nicholls has been one of the top National Hunt trainers for a long time and much of that success is based on buying horses that will become top-class chasers. He adopts a patient approach in bumpers and over hurdles, knowing that his patience will be rewarded when his horse jump fences. Of all the jumps trainers in England, the longevity of the chasers that Nicholls trains is also apparent.
Knowing when to bet on these types of horses comes with an understanding of what the trainer is trying to achieve. Once you understand how a trainer works, you’ll know when to have a bet. But this does take a lot of time and studying.
Luckily, if you’ve not got the time to study how trainers work, you’ve come to the right place. Betting Gods have several professional horse racing tipsters that spend their lives working out such patterns and betting on the horses when the time is right. Check out some of their free tips or subscription services.
If you’re looking for more advice about horse racing, you’ll find loads more helpful articles here on the Betting Gods blog. Happy punting!