How Long is a Horse Race?

How Long is a Horse Race?
James Prosser
Friday 4th January 2019

Whether it’s on the flat or over the obstacles, races are run over a huge amount of distances, one to suit every horse (theoretically!). From the different types of distances, to how long is a furlong, this guide has you covered on all things distances! Our racecard section has every race, of every distance, covered.

What is a furlong and how long is it?

A furlong is exactly 201.168 metres, or 0.125 miles – so there are 8 furlongs in a mile.

Races in the UK and Ireland are given in miles and furlongs and you’ll see races given in furlongs for races below a mile in distance. Beyond that, distances will be in miles and furlongs.

How long are horse races on the Flat?

The minimum distance on the flat is five furlongs, with the longest being run at Royal Ascot over the two-mile six-furlong distance in the Queen Alexandra.

A list of usual flat distances can be found below:

  • 5f
  • 6f
  • 7f
  • 1m
  • 1m 2f
  • 1m 4f
  • 1m 6f
  • 2m
  • 2m 4f

Races often vary by up to 50 yards either way depending on where the course sets the running rail. These changes will be announced by the racecourse on the day or day before.

Races of five furlongs and six furlongs are considered sprint races, with the seven furlong distance a specialist trip as it combines both speed and stamina.

Races from 1m 1f to 1m 4f are considered middle distances.

Races beyond 1m 4f are considered staying races, and are generally for horses with more experience.

How long are National Hunt races?

Races over obstacles start at the one-mile seven-furlong distance, with most races being between that and the three-mile distance. Races beyond the three-mile trip are rarer and tend to be specialist races, including the Grand National, which is the longest race run in Great Britain and Ireland. Marathon races (three miles and beyond) are rarely run over hurdles, with much of the stamina-sapping contests being “national” races, for instance, the Scottish National and London National.

The most typical National Hunt distances are:

  • 2m
  • 2m 2f
  • 2m 4f
  • 3m
  • 3m 2f
  • 3m 4f
  • 4m 3f

How long is the Grand National?

The longest raced in Great Britain and Ireland, the Grand National is raced over 4 miles and 3 furlongs. Perhaps the biggest race of the calendar year – a race that makes the entire nation pause for almost ten minutes – thirty fences are jumped. With different types of fences, including the infamous Canal Turn, it’s a one of a kind contest and it’s special beyond words for racing fans.

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