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Flat Racing vs Jump Racing: Which is the Best?
Credit: NYRA

Flat Racing vs Jump Racing: Which is the Best?

There have been plenty of debates about which code in horse racing is the best – is it flat racing or jump racing?

It is not that long ago that the sport’s bosses were running marketing campaigns aimed at improving the image of the flat version. While it is fair to say that those efforts worked to a certain degree, there are still issues on the flat that the jumps game simply doesn’t suffer from.

Read on as we take a closer look at four of the main reasons we feel that horse racing over jumps is better than it is on the flat.

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All roads lead to the Festivals

The simplicity of the jumps racing season is a major selling point – the schedule builds to a crescendo that peaks with Festivals at Cheltenham, Aintree, and Punchestown.

The best horses have their campaigns built around proving their worth at one or more of the big spring meetings held during March and April.

Compare that to the flat, which has showpiece events scattered across the season and a half-baked Champions Day at Ascot towards the end of the season.

The use of Lasix in the Breeders’ Cup somewhat sullies that event as a spectacle, leaving flat racing without anything that comes close to the big jumps Festivals.

Image problem remains on the flat

Despite striving to make the sport more accessible to the masses, flat racing still has a huge image problem which has its roots deeply entrenched in snobbery.

Many people involved on the flat are dismissive of the media and that has a detrimental impact to how the sport is perceived.

Conversely, jumps racing is littered with individuals who understand the importance of working with the media to collectively promote the sport.

If the flat scene had more personalities like Frankie Dettori, it would be a better place, but it doesn’t, and that factor continues to hold it back.

Credit: NYRA

Jump racing is a better spectacle

It would be wrong to argue that all flat racing is dull – for instance, a five-furlong sprint down the hill at Goodwood can be a hugely entertaining affair.

However, generally speaking jumps racing is a much better spectacle due to the fact that the horses are required to safely negotiate hurdles or fences at high-speed.

There is no better sight than a group of horses thundering down to the final obstacle straining every sinew in the hope of seeing off their rivals on the run-in.

By contrast, modern flat racing is much more clinical, with breeding bloodlines playing an ever-increasing role in the outcome of many races.

Familiarity doesn’t breed contempt

It is a source of frustration for many fans that the best horses spend under two years on the track before being shunted off to stud.

That is not the case in jump racing, with fans often able to follow their favourites over the course of numerous seasons.

This allows them to buy into the sport much more as they become emotionally attached to legends like Desert Orchid, Red Rum, Kauto Star, and many more.

Many jumps horses compete repeatedly at the big Festivals, giving them the longevity that is sorely missing from the majority of flat racing.

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