Many sports have their own particular terminology and jargon – which may at first appear hard to grasp to the uninitiated – and horse racing is no different. In racing, much of this phrasing surrounds the different race types on offer: maidens, bumpers, sellers, claimers, handicaps and so on.
Thankfully though, the lingo used in horseracing really isn’t anything like as complicated as it may at first appear. This series aims to shed a little light on the various race types within the sport, and we turn now to the “Listed race”.
An ingrained part of the system in both flat and national hunt racing, Listed events are generally quite high quality contests, and as such are much coveted by owners and trainers alike. But, what exactly are they? And, where do they sit on the racing ladder?
A Notch Below the Very Top Level
The first thing to note is that the phrase “Listed” refers to the class of a race, rather than to any specific conditions determining which types of horse may enter; unlike a maiden race for example, which is only open to those runners to have never previously won a race.
Both flat and National Hunt racing are broken down into seven classes, with the highest rated, most talented performers competing in Class 1 events, and the lowest rated runners taking part down at Class 7 level. Both over jumps and, on the level, the Class 1 category is then broken down into further subcategories, one of which is that of the Listed race.
Flat Listed Races
In flat racing, the Class 1 category contains four sections: Group 1, Group 2, Group 3 and finally Listed races. Group 1 events are the most prestigious races on the racing programme and include internationally renowned contests, such as the Epsom Derby and the Oaks, and are run under weight for age conditions, i.e. the only variations in weights carried by the runners is related to their age and their sex.
Group 2 and Group 3 events come next, and again cater to high class horses, but tend to be of more significance on a national rather than international level. These races are again run as weight for age affairs, but with the addition of extra penalties for previous wins at or above a specified level.
Together, Group 1, 2 and 3 races make up what are known as the “Pattern”, which is essentially a programme of races, organised by the European Pattern Committee, and designed to ensure a steady stream of high-quality events over the course of the flat season
Moving just a little further down the quality ladder, we then come to the focus of this article: the Listed race. Not quite so high in quality as the Group races – either in terms of the ability of the runners taking part, or the prize money on offer – Listed events are perhaps best thought of as being stepping stone races between the best of the Class 2 handicap contests and Pattern races.
Flat Listed races tend to be run under similar conditions to Group 2 and Group 3 events, i.e. with runners carrying weights related to their age, sex, and previous wins at a specified level, but the category does also contain a handful of contests which take place under standard handicap conditions.
Top Listed Flat Races
At the time of writing, there are a total of 136 Listed events on offer over the course of the British Flat Racing season, held over a range of distances at tracks up and down the country. The below table picks out a few of the highlights.
|Pretty Polly Stakes||1m2f||Newmarket||May|
|Cocked Hat Stakes||1m3f||Goodwood||May|
|Windsor Castle Stakes||5f||Ascot||June|
|Dubai Duty Free Cup||7f||Newbury||September|
Class 1 in National Hunt Racing
The National Hunt classification system corresponds closely with that used on the flat. Class 1 races again being broken down into four subcategories – although the terminology used is ever so slightly different. Whereas on the flat the top three categories are known as Group 1, Group 2 and Group 3, in the National Hunt game the top three levels are entitled Grade 1, Grade 2 and Grade 3.
The Grade 1 section contains the real championship level events, such as the King George VI Chase and Cheltenham Gold Cup, with races in this category being run under weight for age conditions. Then come the Grade 2’s which, like flat Group 2’s, are weight for age races with the addition of penalties for previous wins at, or above, a specific level. Grade 3’s are next, again being high quality events, but unlike flat Group 3 races they tend to be run under standard handicap – as opposed to weight for age – conditions.
In a similar manner as in flat racing, these Grade 1, Grade 2 and Grade 3 events make up what is known as the Pattern; which in the instance of jumps racing is organised by the British Horse Racing Authority.
And then, once again just below these pattern races, come our Listed events. As with flat racing, Listed events over the jumps can be thought of as bridging the gap between the standard handicapping sphere and Graded races. The National Hunt Listed and Grade 3 categories do both contain handicap races, but these tend to be the very best handicaps of the season.
Top Listed National Hunt Races
The programme of Listed races in National Hunt racing isn’t quite so plentiful as it is on the flat, with a total of only 33 available. There are a number of excellent contests amongst that list of 33 though, with the following list picking out 10 of the best.
|Sky Bet Handicap Chase||3m||Doncaster||January|
|Midlands Grand National||4m2f||Uttoxeter||March|
|Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase||2m5f||Cheltenham||March|
|Summer Plate||2m5½f||Market Rasen||July|
|Future Stars Intermediate Chase||3m½f||Sandown||November|
|Badger Beers Silver Trophy||3m1½f||Wincanton||November|
|bet365 Handicap Chase||2m3½f||Wetherby||November|
|Big Buck’s Handicap Hurdle||3m||Cheltenham||November|
The Hunt for Black Type
Listed events may not be included with Group and Graded races in the official Pattern, either in flat or National Hunt racing, but one area in which they are on a par with these more prestigious events is when it comes to assigning “Black Type”.
You may have heard a trainer state that they “will try and get some black type” for one of their runners. Whenever a trainer says this, what they actually mean is that they will try and get the horse in question to win or finish placed in a Group/Graded or Listed race.
Any runner who achieves this feat, will then have their name printed in bold black type on the breeding pages of the horse sales catalogues; thus making their name stand out from the crowd, which draws the attention of buyers, and of course increases breeding and sales value.