Types of Horse Racing in the Philippines

Evelyn Balyton

Evelyn Balyton

In our world today, there is no shortage of entertainment. There is always something interesting going on, from music and gossip news to horse racing, hockey, and many more that can keep you occupied for a while. While they all serve the same purpose, which is mainly bringing relaxation and excitement to spectators, some have held the fort much longer than others.

Horse racing in the Philippines is one of the earliest sporting events. Also referred to as the ‘sport of kings’, its origins can be traced back to the nomadic tribesmen of Central Asia in 4,500 BC, who first started horse domestication. To this day, horse racing in the Philippines remains relevant in the world of sports. It has gone from a local sport to a global phenomenon.

If you follow horse racing events on television, there's a good chance that you already know something about the game. Most of the time, a particular style of this game is aired for people to watch on various media platforms. 

You may think there is not much to learn about this sport. But nothing could be further from the truth. The scope of horse racing is so broad that it includes several different styles, which also have subcategories. Each style comes with its own excitement and there's even an ongoing debate about which horse racing style is the best.

Horse racing is a game where the athletic prowess of horses and the skill of their riders are tested. In this article, we aim to usher you deeper into the realm of horse racing and also to ensure that this spectacular sport continues to stand still and remain popular.

Different Styles of Horse Racing

History has shown that there is more than one way for horse racing to be conducted. The various styles of the sport all have distinct characteristics that help people to differentiate them. Naturally, some styles will be more popular than others, which is the direction we will explore in this article. So, we take a closer look at the horse racing styles that the majority of spectators and bettors enjoy.

Thoroughbred Racing

Thoroughbred racing stands head and shoulders above all others. The races that fall within this category usually attract the most buzz, and punters tend to pay more attention to them. Thoroughbreds have always been a thing of astonishment to spectators. Their speed, power and grace always elicit a feeling of wonder whenever they are in action.

If you refer to thoroughbreds as elites, you won't actually be wrong. These horses come from a long line of special horses that lived in the 17th and 18th centuries. They carry good genes from their ancestors, which set them apart. Since they are built differently, it makes sense that their training to race on flat and mostly round tracks will yield the best results.

We've seen these horses become stars on the tracks at just two years old, and they will keep up the momentum even when close to double digits in age. At this stage, some of their owners decide to retire them and channel their abilities into something else. Most of the time, they are used for breeding other racehorses.

Notable Distinctions in Thoroughbred Races

Although these horses are grouped as thoroughbreds, they can’t just compete in any race without meeting the appropriate requirements. Some horses perform better in certain races than others. Let’s find out what the selection process entails.

  1. Distance
    Due to genetic inheritances, some are better at running long distances than others. Thoroughbred racing is of two types: sprints and distance races. Sprints are shorter distances of less than a mile, and they usually include a turn or less. On the other hand, distance races are longer and can go beyond a mile with the inclusion of two turns or more.
    This is in no way the same as endurance horse racing, where horses can run up to 100 miles or more. This particular race is organised to test how well a horse can handle long-running distances.
  2. Surface
    Many in the US might think that thoroughbred racing only happens on dirt, as that's the surface on which most of their races occur. However, the truth is that racing on grass surfaces is more common in certain parts of the world. In fact, during popular competitions, you can even find both dirt and grass tracks at the same venue.
    As experts have conducted more research to improve the health of thoroughbreds, synthetic surfaces have been created. They mimic conventional surfaces but have better effects on the animals. The horse can ride far more smoothly and their bodies will encounter less stress.
  3. Gender
    Gender-based races are common in horse racing events. For example, a race can be set up for two-year-old female horses to compete against each other. The goal is to provide a competitive playing field so that the outcome of such an event will be entirely fair.

horce racing

Harness Racing

While harness racing does not have the level of influence that thoroughbred racing has, it can still hold its own. This game has an impressive history that can be traced back to Roman chariot racing.

Carried out on the harness racing tracks, drivers, not jockeys, are pulled by the horses. A bike-like cart, called a sulky, is attached to the horse, and the driver sits on it while the horse races down the track. Furthermore, harness horse racing is performed by the breed of horses known as standardbred.

Similarities to Thoroughbred Racing

Just like in thoroughbred racing, standardbreds don’t compete in every race but are selected based on their age and gender. Since not all horses can participate in all events, they are grouped in accordance with their abilities. The available races include claimers, conditions, and stakes.

Similar to thoroughbred racing, humans are very much involved in this racing style. There are owners, trainers and breeders who all work together to ensure the horses reach their full potential.

Differences from Thoroughbred Racing

In harness racing, drivers don’t sit on the horses; instead, they are pulled. Also, the horses must conform to a certain gait, unlike in thoroughbred races where the horses are allowed to express themselves freely and get to the finish line before their competitors, even if it means galloping. Generally, harness races are slower than their thoroughbred counterparts.

Steeplechase Horse Racing

Steeplechase racing is sometimes called jump racing. It’s not as popular as harness or thoroughbred racing globally, but in some countries like the UK it draws heavy attention. One major aspect that sets this game apart is that competing horses must jump over fences as they make their way to the finish.

Horses used for steeplechase horse racing can sometimes be bred strictly for this type of game. But it is not out of place to find thoroughbreds competing in this game. Some thoroughbred horses have been specifically trained for jumping.

Endurance Horse Racing

It’s worth mentioning that not all racehorses with a jockey seated on their backs are thoroughbreds. There are other breeds, like the Arabians, who excel in long-distance competitions like endurance horse racing. You can sometimes find them in thoroughbred venues as well.

This long-distance race is all about form and endurance, as you can ascertain from the name. Horses run many more miles in this race compared to the other types. Of course, the race consists of multiple sections with breaks between these stages.

How to Bet on Horse Racing

Horse racing has constantly evolved throughout history. Looking back to the era of chariot racing, which sounds intriguing but also brutal, we can see how far we’ve come.

However, one aspect of horse racing remains unchanged and that is definitely betting. If anything, modernisation has streamlined horse racing betting, as well as contributing to the sport’s global popularity.

While there are noticeable differences in the betting structure of the various styles of horse racing, as well as their geographical locations, it shouldn’t be a cause for alarm because, at the end of the day, they all share the same betting mechanisms.

If you’re interested in horse race betting, the simplest way to get started is to visit a racing track. Once there, you can bet on not only the races taking place but also those in other parts of the world.

Unfortunately, not everyone has access to a track. But if you have a stable internet connection that solves your problem completely. You can find licensed bookmakers that will allow you to place bets on horse racing events wherever you want.


The beauty of horse racing lies in the variety of styles. There’s always one horse racing event going on somewhere in the world, and the good news is that you don’t have to attend physically. With your PC or mobile device, you can view and bet on them anytime, anywhere. Now you have the chance to find out for yourself why horse racing is so enticing and why it has survived for this long.