What Is a Listed Race?

Beaufort Hunt Race
Ray Bird / geograph.org.uk

For those fairly new to horse racing, there is quite a lot to take in. Whether it’s all the abbreviations on the racecard, the special terminology or how handicapping works, it does make for a fairly steep learning curve. There is a lot we could potentially cover but for this article, our focus is on race grading, and specifically, listed races. By the end of the article, you should have a comprehensive understanding of what exactly a listed race is and how exactly it differs from other race classifications.

What Does It Mean When a Race Is Listed?

In horse racing, much like in many other sports, there is a hierarchy in place that helps denotes the quality of a particular race. Every single race you see will have its own classification as a result and it is this that heavily shapes how much prize money is on offer, as well as the entry requirements and cost of entry. Across both flat and jumps (National Hunt) racing, at the very top of the pile, you have Class 1 races and at the bottom, you have Class 7 (flat) or Class 6 (jumps racing).

Class 1 is the out odd out though as it is the only class that is subdivided into different levels. For flat racing, Class 1 includes Group 1, 2 and 3 events while in National Hunt (jumps) racing you have Grade 1, 2 and 3. A grade 1/group 1 race is the top of the class and it is these contests that feature some of the best or most promising horses around. Just underneath this trio of classifications though, you will find exactly what we are after: listed races. Despite not being at quite the same heights as a group/graded event, listed races are still Class 1 affairs and thus command plenty of respect and a decent sized purse.

Listed Flat Races

Flat racecourse
Richard Humphrey / geograph.org.uk

In terms of the racing hierarchy, listed races find themselves in the same spot whether it is flat or jumps racing. You might be best off viewing it like a Class 1.5, as it’s not the very top but it’s higher than Class 2. There are different implications of being a listed race whether depending on the type of race it is though so at this point it is wise to separate the two.

Lower-class flat racing, so classes 2 to 7, are all run as handicaps in which horses are awarded weight depending on their official ratings. If you are a good horse, you will be penalised more and given more weight to carry during a run than a horse with a lower official rating. It is an attempt to level the playing field for betting purposes rather than simply trying to allow the best horse to win.

At listed level though, this is the point where handicaps no longer apply and instead horses compete at the same weight. We should point out there are some exceptions though as many listed races do feature age/weight allowances or penalise horses that have won at a higher level before. So, although it is not the case that every horse will always compete with exactly the same weight, they are still seen as very fair tests for all horses involved.

The absence of handicapping means that listed races (and above) attract a high calibre of horses. Trainers no longer face the prospect of their horse riding pounds and pounds heavier than the rest of the field due to their former successes. Instead, their better horses are given the opportunity to flourish without any shackles slowing them down. So, even if your horse is not ready for the top level just yet, listed races give them the perfect place to earn some decent prize money. On that note too, listed races do have a minimum value (which tends to fluctuate year on year) just like all other race classifications.

Listed National Hunt Races

National Hunt Racecourse
Richard Humphrey / geograph.org.uk)

Now, unlike with listed flat races, listed jumps races can either feature as handicap or non-handicap events. Most do run as handicaps though and they represent some of the best handicaps available to horses. It is not the absolute top tier though as many Grade 3 events are also run as handicaps.

In either case, being a listed quality race means there is a certain amount of prize money the race must pay out. You will find that many exceed this amount though in order to make them even more attractive to trainers/owners.

How Many Listed Races Are There?

Seeing races with listed classification is not a rare sight at all. There are dozens of them throughout the season across both flat and National Hunt racing, although considerably more for the former. Often they are used by trainers to prepare a horse for a more prestigious and lucrative group or graded race that is scheduled a little later in the season. Listed races can also be used by a well-established horse that is returning from injury, just to get them back up to speed without facing the hindrance of a hefty handicap.

For flat racing specifically, listed races provide the natural and fairly gentle step up for any horse that has impressed at Class 2/3 handicaps. A horse could always stick at the lower level but they will find that any good patch of form will make future successes harder as their official ranking, and thus handicap, will increase. Listed races however provide an opportunity for talented handicappers not to be hamstrung by their own success at the least risk possible. By risk we mean financial as the entry fee for entering a horse for a listed race will be less than for group/graded races.

For National Hunt racing, the same situation really applies for non-handicap listed races. It gives solid steeplechasers and hurdlers a chance to see how they fare without the handicappers meddling. Some may find the step up too challenging but for others, it can pave the way for a solid career at the top level of racing. Listed handicaps on the other hand are simply used for anyone looking for a greater test than Class 2 but something likely less challenging than a Group 3 contest.

Notable Examples of Listed Races

Goodwood Racecourse
David Martin / geograph.org.uk

To finish we have highlighted some of the more prominent listed races on the British racing circuit. The listed classification is actually used across the continent, and indeed in Australia, rather than being specific to the British Isles, but nobody else boasts this much higher-level thoroughbred action.

Also bear in mind the lists below are just a small sample of what is available as listed races are regularly available at all times of the year. The complete list will change slightly year on year as a minority of races are reclassified/rehoused but most listed races have held the status for many years, or even since their inception. Note that some races will change their names if they get new sponsors.

Listed Flat Races

Month Race Course Distance
June Wolferton Stakes Ascot 1m 1f 212y
September Beverley Bullet Sprint Stakes Beverley 5f
June Eternal Stakes Carlisle 6f 195y
May Cheshire Oaks Chester 1m 3f 75y
September Chester Stakes Chester 1m 6f 87y
September Flying Scotsman Stakes Doncaster 7f 6y
June Surrey Stakes Epsom 7f 3y
May Festival Stakes Goodwood 1m 1f 197y
July Glasgow Stakes Hamilton 1m 3f 14y
May Spring Trophy Haydock 7f 37y
March Magnolia Stakes Kempton Park 1m 2f
April King Richard III Stakes Leicester 7f
November Golden Rose Stakes Lingfield Park 6f 1y
June Maggie Dickson Stakes Musselburgh 7f 33y
July Weatherbys Super Sprint Newbury 5f 34y
April Burradon Stakes Newcastle 1m 5y
July Sir Henry Cecil Stakes Newmarket 1m
April Nottinghamshire Oaks Nottingham 1m 2f 50y
August Flying Fillies’ Stakes Pontefract 6f
August Stonehenge Stakes Salisbury 1m
May National Stakes Sandown 1m 1f 209y
June Midsummer Stakes Windsor 1m 38y
March Lady Wulfruna Stakes Wolverhampton 7f 36y
September John Musker Fillies’ Stakes Yarmouth 1m 2f 23y
August Galtres Stakes York 1m 5f 188y

Listed National Hunt Races

Month Race Type Course Distance
December Championship Standard Open NHF Race Flat Ascot 2m
October Tote.co.uk Handicap Chase Chase Ascot 2m 1f
October Sodexo Handicap Hurdle Hurdle Ascot 1m 7½f
December Good Luck Hollie in SPOTY Silver Cup Chase Ascot 3m
February Swinley Chase Chase Ascot 3m
November Colin Parker Memorial Intermediate Chase Chase Carlisle 2m 4f
Nov / Dec Houghton Mares’ Chase Chase Carlisle 2m 4f
November Mares’ Standard Open NH Flat Race Flat Cheltenham 2m ½f
November Big Buck’s Handicap Hurdle Hurdle Cheltenham 3m
January Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race Flat Cheltenham 1m 6f
January Sky Bet Handicap Chase Chase Doncaster 3m
January Lady Protectress Chase Chase Huntingdon 2m 4f
February Sidney Banks Memorial Novices’ Hurdle Hurdle Huntingdon 2m 3½f
October Racing TV Hurdle Hurdle Kempton 2m
November Kempton Mares’ Hurdle Hurdle Kempton 3m ½f
July Summer Handicap Hurdle Hurdle Market Rasen 2m ½f
July Summer Plate Chase Market Rasen 2m 5½f
February Scottish Triumph Hurdle Trial Hurdle Musselburgh 2m
December Gerry Feilden Hurdle Hurdle Newbury 2m ½f
November Future Stars Intermediate Chase Chase Sandown 3m ½f
Jan / Feb Contenders Hurdle Hurdle Sandown 2m ½f
March Centenary Novices’ Handicap Chase Chase Sandown 2m 5f
December Byerley Stud Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle Hurdle Taunton 2m ½f
June Summer Cup Chase Uttoxeter 3m 2f
March Midlands Grand National Chase Uttoxeter 4m 2f
October Wetherby Mares’ Hurdle Hurdle Wetherby 2m
October Bet365 Handicap Chase Chase Wetherby 2m 3½f
November Badger Beers Silver Trophy Chase Wincanton 3m 1½f