Novice stakes are races for inexperienced horses which have not won a race at the start of the season. The weights allocated in stakes races are based on age and sex and not form. Colts and geldings carry more weight than fillies and mares and horses older than three carry more weight than horses from the Classic generation.
These concessions are based on physical condition and gives a horse a fair chance regardless of age and gender. Novice races are open to horses aged two and three who have not won more than two races. Novice auction races are for worse-performing horses and there is a public auction after the race.
In National Hunt and flat racing in Britain there is a structure which includes each level of race. The highest level includes grade 1 and Group 1 races in each discipline. As a horse gains more experience and has some success on the track there is a potential movement through the levels, of which the ultimate is Group 1 races. Novice stakes are low down the hierarchy because they are designed for inexperienced horses who have not has much success on the track.
A novice is classed as novice until the end of the season in which the first race is won. Novice races are below maiden races. There are three levels of maiden race including a handicap and these races are better quality than novice races, sitting just above them in the hierarchy. Novice races are run over a range of distances and eligibility is based on sex and age.
Horses that are successful in novice stakes then run in better quality races until they find their level. A strong performance in novice stakes and in each level that follows might indicate a horse to watch over the years, from a betting perspective.
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