What is a maiden race?
A maiden race is a race for, well, maidens or, in other words, a race in which none of the participants has won a race in its selected discipline. The key phrase here is ‘in its selected discipline’, because a horse that has won a race in one discipline may still be eligible to run in maiden races in another. A horse that has won on the Flat, including under National Hunt Rules, for example, remains eligible for maiden races over hurdles, or fences for that matter, until such a time as it wins a race over one type of obstacle or the other.
Maiden races are run under both codes of horse racing – that is, Flat and National Hunt – and, by their very nature, are typically contested by young, inexperienced horses at the start of their careers. Of course, it is possible that moderate horses run many times before winning a race and some never do, so they could remain eligible to run in maiden races for most, or all, of their careers. That said, eligibility is often based on age and/or sex, so not all maidens are qualified to run in all maiden races.