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
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
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
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
|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|
|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
|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|
|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|