understand the lingo

know your stuff

A simple at-a-glance guide to the wonderful world of Horseracing terms to help you know your Arber from your Ear’ole.



A race meeting which has been cancelled due to bad weather. All bets placed on abandoned races are fully refunded.


An accumulator bet encompasses a number of selections.

Act (on the ground/on the track etc.)

Describes a horse's suitability for different conditions e.g. going, racecourses etc. If a horse ‘acts on soft ground' it means that horse has shown previous ability to handle soft ground.


All thoroughbreds have their birthdays on the 1st January.


When a rider is inexperienced the horse is given a weight concession to compensate. The ‘allowance’ is usually 3lb, 5lb or 7lb, with it decreasing as the young jockey rides more winners.


The name given to the artificial surface tracks. These offer racing throughout the winter regardless of weather conditions. (Chelmsford, Lingfield, Kempton, Southwell, Newcastle and Wolverhampton). There are three different types of surface: Fibresand, Polytrack and Tapeta.


A horse that finishes ‘down the field’ in a race.


A non-professional jockey who does not receive a fee for riding in a race.


Bets made on future events, possibly even before all details of the event are known (eg. list of runners declaring for a horse race). If your selection is withdrawn or not entered, bets are lost.


Young jockey contracted by a trainer whilst gaining race-riding experience. When racing against professional jockeys apprentices receive weight concessions to compensate for their relative inexperience.


A punter who locks in profit through exploiting a market by backing all outcomes of an event at a combined book of less than 100%


A bet that locks in a guaranteed profit, whatever the outcome.

At the post

When all the horses have arrived at the start before a race, they are said to be ‘at the post’.

Auction maiden

For two-year-olds sold at public auction as yearlings or two-year-olds, for a price not exceeding a specified figure.


To bet on a specific horse is to back it.


A 'backed' horse is a horse which has had lots of bets placed on it.


This is when a horse has been backed heavily and bettors have outlaid a lot of money on the horse which results in a decrease in the odds offered.

Backstretch / Back Straight

The straight length of the track on the far side of the course from the stands.


A horse that is not fit enough or developed enough to do itself justice.


These are horse racing bets which are very strongly fancied and considered to be of near certainty.


This shows what the lowest odds are of the horses not mentioned in the betting. They are at least as long as the last quoted odds or greater.


A horse which is brown with a black mane/tail and legs.


The amount of money laid, or bet, on a horse.

Betfair Commission

A small percentage of winnings the company takes for providing their service.

Betting market

A market is created, according to demand, by the prices offered for each runner by bookmakers.

Betting Ring

The main area at a racecourse where the bookmakers operate from.


A horse that someone strongly believes will be beaten.


Metal part of the bridle that sits in a horse’s mouth. The reins are then attached to the bit and used by the jockey to control the horse.

Black (horse colour)

The horse is a uniform black colour (except possible white markings on its head and lower legs).

Black type

Term used by the bloodstock industry to denote a horse that has won or been placed in a Pattern/Listed race. Horses ‘going for black type' are attempting to win or be placed in a Pattern/Listed race to improve their breeding value.

Blanket Finish

When several horses finish a race very close together. It is called this because you they are so close together you could theoretically put a single blanket across them.


This is horse which tends to break blood vessels during a race.


Blinds are another name for blinkers.


A device consisting of a hood with cups around the eyes, that restricts a horse’s field of vision, is fitted to its head to aid concentration. A horse wearing blinker’s is shown on the race card by a small ‘b’ next to the horse’s weight, and ‘b1’ indicates the horse is wearing blinkers for the first time.

Bloodstock sales

The sale of horses at auction.

Blown up

When a horse starts to drop out of contention during a race. This is usually due to lack of fitness.


A short workout, usually a day or two before a race, designed to clear the horse’s airways before the race.

Board Prices

This refers to the currently available odds displayed on the boards of on-course bookmakers. From this the starting prices are derived.


The range of betting markets offered for a horse race. It is a record of the bets made on a particular race or other sporting event. A bookmaker ‘makes a book’ by determining the likelihood of each possible outcome in a race and presenting this in the form of odds or prices. The book is adjusted according to the amount of money and bets struck on each possible outcome.

Book closed

The race is most likely under way and, therefore, no more bets can be placed.


The person/establishment that is licensed to accept bets and pay out winnings.


The 'tic-tac' term for 2/1

Boxed In

A horse that is unable to overtake another horse because it is blocked by other horses.


A horse that constantly walks around its stable and doesn’t settle.

Break (a horse) in

This is the technique used to teach young horses to accept and become familiar with riding equipment and carrying a rider.


Restraining or easing off on a horse for a short distance to permit him to fill his lungs during the race.


Someone that breeds racehorses. They own the dam (mother) at the time a foal is born.


Galloping a horse at a moderate speed.


The equipment on a horse’s head used to control it.

Bridle, won on the

Won easily, without being hard ridden or challenged by other horses.

Broken Down

This is when a horse sustains an injury and requires a long rest to recover.


Mare kept at stud for breeding, and not usually raced, although likely to have done so when younger.

Brought down

A horse that falls during a race when impeded by another horse.


The informal term for a flat race for jump horses, in which they gain racing experience before going hurdling or chasing. This National Hunt flat race is over a distance of between 13-16 furlongs.


Interference during a race where one horse collides with another. Often results in a Stewards’ Enquiry, particularly when interference takes place in the closing stages of the race.

Burlington Bertie

The ‘tic-tac’ term for 100-30.


Multiple bet consisting of 26 bets (10 doubles, 10 trebles, five 4-folds and a 5-fold) with 5 selections in different events (also known as "Super Yankee").


The 'tic-tac' term for 3-1. Double carpet is 33-1.


Course and distance is a sign which shows that a horse has won over the same course and distance as the race taking place.


A horse that takes part in steeplechase races.


When a horse’s run during a race is momentarily blocked by another horse or horses.

Cheek pieces

The head gear that is worn by horses in order to help performance. It is usually strips of sheepskin which are attached to the horse’s bridle. They partially obscure the horse’s rear view in order to help with the horse’s concentration on racing. Horses wearing cheek pieces are denoted on a race card by a small ‘p’ next to the horse’s weight.


Horse colour varying from light, washy yellow to dark liver orange, and in between are red, gold and liver shades.


Extension of racecourse, usually at the top of the home straight, to allow straight run from the start.

Claimer (jockey)

An apprentice Flat jockey.

Claimer/Claiming race

A race where a horse is handicapped by its trainer, with the weight relating to the amount of money the horse would cost should someone claim it afterwards. A claiming race is when the horses are all for sale for similar prices up until shortly before the race.


A group of historic major (Graded) races for three-year-olds in the Flat season. In Britain the five Classics are (in running order) the 2,000 Guineas, the 1,000 Guineas, the Oaks, the Derby and the St Leger - most European countries have their own versions of these Classics. A Classic contender is a horse being aimed at one of these races or is regarded as having the potential to compete at that level.

Clerk of the Course

The person in overall charge of a racecourse during a race day.

Clerk of the Scales

The person who is responsible for ensuring that all jockeys weigh in correctly at the end of a race.


The ‘tic-tac’ bookmaking term for 10-1


A horse that shares its position at the head of the betting market with at least two other horses.


The racing silks worn by the jockey to identify a horse. A horse runs in its owner’s colours which are registered with Weatherbys.


Ungelded, male horse up to four years old.

Combination Forecasts (CFC)

Punters may bet on three or more horses in a race, of which any two must finish 1st and 2nd in any order to gain any returns. Selecting four horses effectively means placing 4x3 = 12 separate bets (or "lines") for a return if any two of the four selections finish first and second.

Combination Tricasts (CTC)

Similar principle to CFC but selections are made for first second and third in a race in any order. For five selections, the punter pays 5x4x3=60 times the stake, meaning a £2 combination tricast would cost £120 and would win 2x the odds.

Computer Straight Forecast (CSF)

The odds for a forecast bet. The product of each selection's win odds are multiplied together automatically.

Conditional Jockey

A young jump jockey, under 26, who has a weight allowance over the more experienced jockeys until he has ridden a certain number of winners. A conditional jockey is licensed to a specific trainer. Some races are restricted to conditionals-only.

Conditions Races

A race in which horses are allotted extra weight according to factors including sex, age, whether they are a previous winner etc. This is a better-class race for horses just below Group or Listed level.


A horse's build and general physical structure; the way he is put together.


Usually refers to the owner and trainer of a horse, but also applies generally to anyone associated with the horse.

Course Specialist

A horse which is used to a track, and has either won or made good time on previous races.

Covered up

When a jockey keeps a horse behind other runners to prevent it running too freely in the early stages of a race. - The mating of horses.

Cut in the ground

A description of the ground condition where the racing surface has been softened by rain.


The mother of a horse

Damsire (broodmare)

The sire of a broodmare; in human terms, the maternal grandfather of a horse.

Dark horse

A horse regarded as having potential but whose full capabilities have not been revealed. A trainer will plan a horse’s campaign carefully so that it does not carry too much weight in a major handicap. Punters often perceive these types of horses as a ‘dark horse’.

Dead heat

When two or more horses finish a race exactly equal and their finished positions cannot be separated. In the event of a dead-heat for first place, when a winning bet has been made, half the stake is applied to the selection at full odds and the other half is lost. If more than two horses dead-heat, the stake is proportioned accordingly.

Decimal odds

Used on the Tote and betting exchanges, instead of fractional odds. Decimal odds are expressed as a figure (in round or decimal terms) that represents the potential total winning return to the punter. So, 4 (or 4.0) in Tote or decimal odds is the same as the conventional 3-1, as it represents a potential total winning return of £4 to a £1 stake.

Declared (runner)

A horse confirmed to start in a race at the final declarations stage.


When a horse is scratched from a race after the betting market has already opened, deductions are taken out of the win and place bets at a rate in proportion to the odds of the scratched horse.


When a horse is demoted in the finishing order due to an infringement of the Rules following a Stewards’ Enquiry.


Can refer either to a) the length of a race; or b) the distance by which a horse has won or is beaten by a horse in front that has won. The margin by which a horse has won or has been beaten (e.g. a horse might have a winning distance of three lengths) OR in Jump racing, if a horse is beaten/wins by a long way (more than 30 lengths) it is said to have been beaten/won by a distance.


The amount that a winning or placed horse returns for every £1 bet.


A two-bet accumulator: Predicting the winners of two races, of which both must win to gain any returns. The return is calculated by multiplying the odds on the two selections: e.g. a £10 double on a 2-1 winner and a 7-1 winner pays £240 (£10 on a 2-1 winner = £30, then that £30 on a 7-1 winner = £240).

Double carpet

The ‘tic-tac’ bookmaking term for 33-1.


Refers to a horse's placing in the starting stalls. For flat racing only. Stall numbers are drawn at random by Weatherbys (except in a handful of races that allow each horse’s connections, having been randomly selected, to choose the stall number for their horse. A horse that has an advantageous draw is said to be ‘well drawn’.


If the price of a selection gets bigger due to a lack of support, the price is said to 'drift'. For example from 5-1 to 6-1.

Drop in class/trip

A horse racing in a lower class of race than he has recently run in/running over a shorter distance.

Dual forecast

A bet where the aim is to select both the winner and runner-up in a race in either order.

Dwell/dwelt (at the start)

To start slowly.

Each Way

This is the UK term for betting on a horse to win and/or 'place'. An each-way bet is when you have the same amount on the horse for a win and for a place. The terms of place depends on the number of runners in the race and the type of race it is. A '£1 each way' bet would cost £2. The odds obtained for the place bet are usually a fraction of the win bet odds and depend on the number of competing horses. If the horse wins, both the win odds on the win bet and the place odds on the first place are returned. If the horse finishes second, punters get only the return on the place part of the bet. Therefore a £10 each way bet on a horse at 10-1 would return 10x10 = 100 + the stake of 10 = 110 on the win bet, and 10/5=2-1 on the place, the latter being £30 (i.e. the winnings of 2x10 plus the stake of 10).


The 'tic-tac' term for 6-4.

Enquiry – Stewards’ Enquiry

A review of the race to check into a possible infraction of the Rules made by the Stewards. If the enquiry could affect the result of the race, an announcement will be made on course.

Entire horse

An ungelded horse.

Even Money or 1:1 bet

When your stake brings equal winnings. e.g. £10 staked at evens wins £10 (total return £20).


The fractional odd 1/1. A bet of £10 at evens would win £10, and your returns would be £20 (including return of initial stake)

EW or E/W

Each way.


This is a bet placed through the Tote which requires the first two finishing horses to be named in the correct order.


When a horse is expected to win or at least to be involved in the finish.


The horse deemed to be the most likely to win and therefore the horse with the shortest odds.


This is the number of horses in a race or, in betting, all of the horses in a race except the favourite.


Female horse up to four years old.

First string

Where a trainer and/or owner has more than one runner in a race, the horse considered to be the stable's main fancy is referred to as the stable's first string. Clues to which horse this is can be whether it carries the owner's first colours, is ridden by the stable jockey and/or is shorter odds in the betting than a stablemate.

Fixed-odds betting

Staking a set amount to win a set amount by multiplying the stake by the odds. As opposed to spread betting, where the amount that can be won or lost on a single bet may vary.


The race meeting.

Flat racing

Racing without jumps. The centrepiece of the Flat racing season is the Turf season, which runs from late March to early November. Races are run over a minimum distance of 5f up to a maximum of 2m6f. However, the birth of All-Weather racing in 1989, has allowed Flat racing to continue year-round, and the official Flat racing season now runs for a calendar year to include those Flat races run on all-weather surfaces.


In racing the term foal is more complicated than simply a 'baby' horse. It usually refers to either a male or female horse from birth to January 1st of the following year.


A threefold accumulator means that you have a bet with three selections, all of which must come in for a return on the bet. The same principle applies to other numbers.


Betting on the correct order of first and second horses in a race. A reverse forecast means that you are specifying the first two horses to finish, regardless of the order in which they place. A straight forecast is the winner and runner-up in the correct order. A dual forecast is the winner and runner-up in either order.


This is a horse’s race record. Form refers to the performances of a horse in its recent races, and in most cases form guides are available for reference. 0 – Did Not Place 1 – First Place 2 – Second Place 3 – Third Place U – Unseated Rider P – Rider Pulled Up The most recent race result is furthest left, so in the following example 011123-UP means the horse had been unplaced, first, first, first, second, third, unseated rider and pulled up in its most recent runs. Runs in the last season are after the dash.


A bet of four horses which are all required to win to make a return.


A horse whose running style is to attempt to get on or near the lead at the start of the race and stay there as long as possible.


This is the standard distance unit in racing. This is equal to 220 yards or 201 metre. There are eight furlongs in a mile.


Top speed for a horse.

Galloping Track

This is generally a wide-open track that suits bigger horses with big strides. Some examples of galloping tracks would be Ascot or Newbury.


Training ground where horses are exercised. The major training centres in Britain are Newmarket and Malton (mostly Flat), and Lambourn (mixed) with the Curragh in Ireland. Many trainers have private gallops of their own.


The front section of the starting stalls, which open at the start of a Flat race to release the horses. Used as another term for starting stalls.


A male horse that has been castrated. Most male horses that compete over jumps have been gelded, and a Flat horse may be gelded. Geldings are not allowed to run in some of the top Flat races, such as the Derby, that are important for identifying potential breeding talent.

General Stud Book

Register of all thoroughbred horses, maintained by Weatherbys.

Get the trip

To stay the distance.

Go through the card

To have the winner of every race at a race meeting, either as a trainer, jockey, tipster or punter.


The condition of the ground at a racecourse. This ranges from - soft - good to soft - good - good to firm –firm. Any changes in the predicted going before or during race day may result in some trainers withdrawing their horse from a race because they believe it will be at a significant disadvantage.

Going down

When horses are on their way to the start.

Going In

When horses are put into the stalls.

Going to Post

When horses are on the way to the start of a race.


Multiple bet consisting of 247 bets (28 doubles, 56 trebles, seventy 4-folds, fifty-six 5-folds, twenty-eight x 6-folds, eight 7-folds and an 8-fold) involving 8 selections in different events.


This refers to a horse that is running excitedly and uneconomically. This is usually associated with an inexperienced horse.

Group 1 (Flat) / Grade 1 (jumps)

The highest category of race. The Classic Flat races in Britain, as well as other historic races such as the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot, are Group 1. The major championship races over jumps, such as the Cheltenham Gold Cup, are Grade 1.

Group Race

Refers to the category of a horse race. Group One races are the premier class and include the Classics such as The Derby, The Kentucky Derby, 1000 Guineas. Group Two races also have international prestige and Group Three races are usually domestic races and regarded as being preparation for the higher Groups. Pattern races are designed to ensure competitive horse racing throughout Europe.


Horses are still bought and sold at public auction in the UK in Guineas. A Guinea is the equivalent of £1.05.

Guineas (race)

Shorthand for the 1,000 Guineas and/or 2,000 Guineas. A ‘Guineas horse' is one that is considered capable of running in one of these Classic races.

Hacked up

When a horse easily wins.


When two horses have the same mother (dam), they are half-brothers/sisters. Horses are not referred to as half-brothers/sisters when they share only the same father (sire).


Unit in which a horse's height is measured, at the shoulder. A hand is four inches


Where each horse is allocated a different weight to carry by BHA Handicappers according to their past performances so that in theory all horses run on a fair and equal basis.

Handicap mark / Rating

Each horse, once it has run a few times (usually three), is allocated an official handicap rating by the BHA, which is used to determine its weight if it runs in a handicap. If a horse does well, its handicap rating will go up; if it performs poorly, its rating will go down.


Official responsible for allocating a handicap rating to each horse that has qualified for one, and for allotting the weights to be carried by each horse in a handicap. Employed by the British Horseracing Authority.

Hard ridden

Used to describe a horse whose jockey is expending full effort on the horse, and using his whip.


Newmarket, traditionally seen as the home of Flat racing, is often called Headquarters.


This is when you back a different outcome in an event you have already bet on in order to decrease the risk.


A bet on six selections covering doubles, trebles, fourfolds, fivefolds and a sixfold.

Home straight

The length of straight track, from the final bend to the finish line.

Hunter Chase

A race restricted to horses that have hunted during the present hunting season.


A horse that races over hurdles, which are lighter and lower than fences.


The smaller obstacles on a jumps course. Horses usually have a season or two over hurdles before progressing to fences, though some continue to specialise in hurdling and never run over fences, while some horses go straight over fences without trying hurdles first.


Independent Arbitration Betting Service. A service that settles betting disputes between the punter and the bookmaker.

In Running

Refers to events that take place during the course of a race.

In The Money

The horses in a race which finish 1st, 2nd and 3rd (and sometimes 4th), or the horses on which money will be paid out to punters, depending on the place terms.

In the red

There are the odds shown in red on the betting boards because they are odds-on bets.

In-running betting

Betting on the outcome of a race during the race itself, rather than beforehand. This type of betting is particularly popular on the betting exchanges, though it is also offered by many bookmakers. In-running odds can change rapidly as the race unfolds.


The Jackpot is a tote bet that requires the selection of the winners of the first six races at a selected meeting.

Jocked off

Term used to refer to when one jockey is replaced by another on a horse he usually rides or for which he has already been booked to ride in a particular race.


The rider of the horse.

Joint favourite

If two horses have the shortest odds in the betting, they are described as joint-favourites; if three or more horses have the shortest odds, they are co-favourites.


Another name for the favourite.


The racecourse official who determines the finishing order of a race and the distance between the runners.


A two-year-old horse. Every horse officially turns two on January 1, at the start of the second full calendar year following its birth e.g. a horse born in 2010 will turn two on January 1, 2012.

Juvenile hurdler

The youngest category of hurdler - juvenile hurdlers are those that turn four years of age (on January 1) during the season in which they start hurdling.


To bet or wager on something not to happen, for example a horse not to win.


An alternative term for a bookmaker. Someone who lays or accepts bets.

Layers Liability

This is how much a layer stands to lose if the laid selection wins.

Left-handed track

Racecourse where horses run anti-clockwise.


A unit of measurement for the distances between each horse at the finish of a race; the measurement of a horse from head to tail.

Level weights

When all horses are carrying the same weight. Major championship races, such as the Derby on the Flat or the Cheltenham Gold Cup over jumps, are run at level weights. There are still some allowances for age and sex (e.g. mares receive a 5lb allowance from male horses in the Cheltenham Gold Cup).


A surcharge collected from bookmakers, based on their turnover or gross profits, which goes towards prize-money, improvements to racecourses, and other areas such as scientific research. The body responsible for this is the Levy Board.


A race just below group standard or graded quality but above that of handicap and conditions races.


A horse with high odds (an outsider).


Level Stakes Profit. If all the stakes had been unit 1, this is the amount of profit that would have been made.

Lucky 15

A combination bet of four selections which covers singles, doubles, trebles and a fourfold.

Lucky 31

A combination bet of five selections covering singles, doubles, trebles, fourfolds and a fivefold.

Lucky 63

A combination bet of six selections covering singles, doubles, trebles, fourfolds, fivefolds and a sixfold.


A horse that is yet to win a race. Maiden races are restricted to such horses, though sometimes the conditions of the race allow previous winners (e.g. maidens at closing, i.e. those that have not won a race up to the time the entries close), in which case penalties are allotted for later wins.

Maiden handicap

For maidens aged three or above that have run at least four times and have a maximum rating of 70.


A female horse over five years old.


The betting available on any event taken as a whole. A market is created, according to demand, by the prices offered for each runner by bookmakers.

Median auction maiden

A race for two-year-olds by stallions that had one or more yearling sold in the previous year with a median price not exceeding a specified figure.

Middle distances

On the Flat, races beyond a mile and up to 1m6f are the middle distances. A middle-distance horse is one that runs mainly over such distances or is regarded as being suitable for those distances.

Minimum trip

The shortest race distance: five furlongs on the flat, two miles over jumps.


This is a slang term used by bookmakers for £500.


See accumulator.


Horse names have to be registered with Weatherbys, racing's administrative body, and are subject to approval. Names cannot be longer than 18 characters (including spaces) and must not be the same, in spelling or pronunciation, as a name already registered. In addition, there is a list of ‘protected' horse names that cannot be used - these include past winners of big races such as the Grand National and the Classics on the Flat.


The selection nominated by Racing Correspondents and Tipsters as their major selection of the day or meeting.

National Hunt

The traditional name for jumps racing.


A tipster’s second best bet of the day.


Unit of measurement in a race finish about the length of a horse’s neck.

No offers

When bookmakers are unwilling to offer a price on a horse.


A horse that was originally entered to run, but is no longer participating.


A horse that is prevented by the jockey from running to its full ability. Non-trying is a serious offence prohibited by the rules of racing, and jockeys (as well as the horse and owner) can be banned from racing if they are found guilty, while the horse's trainer risks a fine and/or a ban.


Smallest official distance a horse can win by.

Not Under Orders

On the 'Off' of a race the flag is raised, and any runner withdrawn before the signal is deemed not to have come 'Under Starter's Orders.'


A horse that has not won over two races.

Novice auction

A race for novices sold at public auction as yearlings or two-year-olds for a price not exceeding a specified figure.

Novice stakes

A Flat race for two-year-olds or three-year-olds that have not won more than twice.


Non Runner No Bet. This is a bet on an ante post market where the stake is returned for a non-runner.


A handicap race for two year old horses.


A complaint by a jockey against another in regards to a breach of rules during a race.


The chance offered for a selection to win. Also known as price.

Odds maker

A person who sets the betting odds.

Odds On

Betting odds where the winnings are less than the stake.


Betting odds where the potential winnings are higher than the stake. The numerator is larger than the denominator (e.g. 2-1).

Off the Bit/Off the Bridle

When the horse is pushed and urged on by its jockey and it loses contact with its bit in its mouth.

Off the Pace

When a horse isn’t keeping up with the other horses in the race.

On the bit/On the bridle

Describes a horse pushing himself, still having a bite on the bit.

On the nose

A bet on a horse to win.


Describes a horse that is unable to raise its pace in the closing stages of a race.

Open Ditch

Steeplechase jump with a ditch on the side facing the jockey.

Out of the handicap

When handicap races are framed, there is a maximum and minimum weight that horses can carry. When a horse's rating means that its allocated weight is lower than the minimum for that race, it is said to be ‘out of the handicap'. e.g. in a Flat handicap where a horse set to carry the minimum weight of 7st 7lb is rated 65, a horse rated 62 would be allocated 7st 4lb in the long handicap but would have to carry the minimum 7st 7lb in the race - this horse would be described as being ‘3lb out of the handicap' (i.e. it would be carrying 3lb more than its ‘true' handicap weight).

Out Of The Money

A horse that finishes outside of the place money.


A horse deemed unlikely to win a particular race.

Over the Top

A horse that is past its peak for the season.


A horse with high odds in comparison with its good chances of winning.

Overnight declarations

Horses entered for a race must be ‘declared to run' and this usually happens the day before a race - horses left in a race at this stage are known as ‘overnight declarations' and they comprise the final field for each race which appears on the day of the race in newspapers and in race cards. At this stage a trainer must also ‘declare' the jockey who will ride the horse and any equipment (e.g. blinkers) the horse will carry - this information also appears on race cards in newspapers and at the racecourse.


The margin that a bookmaker builds into their odds to ensure they turnover a profit at an event.


This occurs when the jockey weighs more than the weight that he is allocated to carry. E.g. if a horse is allocated 9st in the handicap but carries 8st 2lb, the jockey is said to have ‘put up 2lb overweight'.

Owner's Badges

When arriving at the racecourse, if you are driving please ask to be parked near the Owners and Trainers entrance, head for the Owners &Trainer’s gate. You will be asked for the Horse’s name and your name, once this information has been checked off you will be provided with an Owners Badge, some sort of food voucher or explanation about any food and drink offers and a race card. If you are not familiar with the race course please ask at the desk for directions to their O&T facilities. About 20 minutes before the race starts please make your way to the parade ring and introduce yourself to the British Racing Club representative. Please remember to check with the Racecourse’s dress code before setting off. In the Parade Ring (Paddock) you will meet other Club members, our jockey and trainer.


This is the speed at which a race is being run. Up with the Pace means close to the leaders, whereas off the pace means some way behind.


A horse that is entered in a race with the intention that it will set the pace for another horse with the same connections.


Area of the racecourse incorporating the parade ring (where horses are paraded prior to the race) and winner's enclosure. Connections of the horses gather in the centre of the paddock before each race and jockeys mount before taking the horses out onto the racecourse.


Before major races, the horses often line up in race card order and are paraded in front of the grandstands to allow racegoers to see them.

Pari Mutuel

This is the only betting system in France. It is a Tote style betting system.


A bet on three selections that covers seven bets, three singles, three doubles and a treble.


The grading system for the most important races, introduced on the Flat in 1971 and later for jumps racing. The top races on the Flat are Group 1, followed by Group 2 and Group 3 (the next highest category is Listed, which, while not technically part of the Pattern, combine with Group races under the heading of black-type races). The jumps Pattern has a similar structure, except that the races are termed Grade 1/2/3, rather than Group 1/2/3.

Penalised horses

Horses that have incurred a weight penalty as a result of previous successes.


A weight added to the handicap weight of a horse. In a handicap, penalties are added to the allotted weight of a horse if it has won since the weights for the race were published.


A bet that contains a large number of selections covering a number of different outcomes.

Photo Finish

A photo is automatically taken as the horses pass the winning line and when the race is too close to be judged by the naked eye the photo is referred to in order to determine the winner and winning distance.


In horse racing, it is possible to bet on a win or a place. In large fields, the place may be 2nd, 3rd or 4th, in smaller fields, 2nd or 3rd. Odds are naturally shorter for a place bet than a win bet.


A bet on the Tote where a selected horse in each of the first six races must win or be placed.


A horse's shoe for racing.


A slang term used by bookmakers for £25.

Pulled up

A horse that drops out of the race and does not finish.


A horse that is unsettled during the early part of a race and uses too much energy fighting the jockey by pulling against the bridle.


To bet or place a bet.


A person who places a bet.

Pushed out

When a horse is ridden vigorously, but without full effort by the jockey.


The hind parts of a horse, specifically between flank and tail.


A programme of the day's racing which shows the runners, riders and timings of each race.


The complete outsider in a field.

Rails (betting)

This refers to the fence separating the Members area on a racecourse from the Tattersalls area. Bookmakers are not allowed in the Members area, but some bookmakers are allowed to set up their pitches on the Tattersalls side of the rails, allowing them to accept bets. Rails bookmakers are the top end of the racecourse betting market, usually dealing with credit customers.

Rails (racecourse)

White plastic rails are used to mark out the track on a racecourse. The stands rails are those nearest the grandstand and the far rails are those on the opposite side of the track from the grandstand. A horse referred to as being ‘on the rails' or ‘against the rails' is running close to the rails, which often helps a horse to keep a straight line in a race finish. A horse that has ‘grabbed the rail' is one whose rider has manoeuvred to a position close to the rail.


A measure of the ability of a horse on a scale starting at zero and going into three figures. Flat Jump racing use different scales; the highest-rated Flat horse is usually in the 130s and the top-rated jumper in the 170s.


The money paid out for a winning bet.

Reversed Forecast

Betting on the first and second horses in a race, irrespective of the order in which they finish. Punters pay twice the stake, because it is two bets, meaning a £5 reverse forecast costs £10. In effect, you are betting on horse 'X' winning and horse 'Y' coming second, and the reverse of that bet as well. Winnings will be the combined odds of the wining horses.

Right-handed track

Racecourse where horses run clockwise.


Return on Investment


The 'tic-tac' term for 4/1.

Round Robin

This is a bet on three selections containing ‘three pairs of singles stakes about’ bets, three doubles and one treble.

Rule 4

If a horse is withdrawn and there is insufficient time to form a new market the remaining horses in the race are subject to a deduction if they win or are placed. The more fancied the runner is the bigger the rule 4 deduction will be. These are calculated according to the starting price as follows: 3/10 or longer odds - 75p in the ?, 2/5 to 1/3 - 70p, 8/15 to 4/9 - 65p, 8/13 to 4/7 - 60p, 4/5 to 4/6 - 55p, 20/21 to 5/6 - 50p, Evens to 6/5 - 45p, 5/4 to 6/4 - 40p, 13/8 to 7/4 - 35p, 15/8 to 9/4 - 30p, 5/2 to 3/1 - 25p, 10/3 to 4/1 - 20p, 9/2 to 11/2 - 15p, 6/1 to 9/1 - 10p, 10/1 to 14/1 - unchanged.


A horse trained for jumping.

Scoop 6

A bet placed on the Tote each Saturday on six televised races, where punters compete for massive dividends.


The potential in a horse.

Second string

The stable's second choice from two or more runners in a race.


The horse backed.

Selling Race

A race where the winner is sold by auction immediately afterwards.

Short Price

Low odds, meaning a punter will get little return for their initial outlay.

Shortening odds

Bookmaker's reduction of the odds on a particular horse.


The colours worn by a jockey.

Silver ring

A racecourse enclosure which usually has the lowest admission price.


The simplest and most popular bet, normally a win bet on one horse in one race.


Father of a horse.

Soft (going)

Condition of a turf course where rain has left the ground ‘soft’ (official going description).

Spread a plate

When a horse loses or damages a shoe before a race.

Spread Betting

A type of betting devised by city traders where punters must decide to buy (bet higher) or sell (bet lower) on the spread (fancied outcome by the traders).


A horse whose price shortens dramatically.

Sprint races

Flat races run over a distance of five or six furlongs.


A horse that specialises in running over the shortest distances (five and six furlongs) on the Flat.


The amount of money bet.


Male breeding horse.


In flat racing horses are led into a row of compartments known as stalls to ensure all runners have an even start.

Stalls handler

Member of a team employed to load horses into the stalls.


The Racecourse official responsible for starting a horse race.

Starting Price (SP)

The price of a horse at the start of the race, when the book closes.


Horses with a lot of stamina are more likely to perform best over three miles, rather than two miles over jumps, and over two miles on the flat.

Staying chaser

A horse that races over three miles or more over fences.

Staying on

When a horse is finishing strongly in a race, possibly a sign of good stamina reserves.

Staying races

Flat races run over a distance of two miles or more.


An outcome that has been very well backed all day. The horse’s betting odds have shortened.


A horse race over fences, open ditches and water jumps which is run over distances from two miles up to four and a half miles.


The group of people (usually four) who make sure the rules are adhered to.

Stewards Enquiry

An investigation by the stewards into on goings in a given race. This can result in place reversal or jockey suspensions.

Stewards' room

On a racecourse, where stewards hold inquiries. A race is said to have been ‘decided in the stewards' room' if the placings are altered by the stewards due to a transgression of the rules of racing.


A jockey's whip.

Stipendiary Steward

Also known as a Stipe. Unlike race day stewards, Stipes are professionals employed by the BHA and one is sent to each meeting to assist the stewards and advise on the rules of racing. The race day stewards, not the Stipe, are responsible for decision-making, but the Stipe's knowledge is often invaluable e.g. in setting an appropriate level of punishment if a jockey or trainer is found guilty of an infringement of the rules of racing.

Straight forecast

A bet where the aim is to select both the winner and runner-up in a race in the correct order.


All the horses in a particular training stable.


A farm where horses are mated. Usually home to one or more stallions.

Supplementary entry

Major races such as the Derby, which have an early initial entry date and several forfeit stages, often allow additional entries to be made in the week leading up to the race, subject to a substantial fee. A horse entered at this stage is known as a supplementary entry and the fee payable is known as the supplementary entry fee. Supplementary entries mean that a major race can have the best possible field, as a horse may not be deemed worthy of a Derby entry as a yearling (possibly on account of its pedigree or because the owner is not among the echelon of the super-rich) but then shows unexpected ability once its racing career has started.

Sure thing

A horse that is regarded as having little chance of losing.

Tattersalls (racecourse enclosure)

The enclosure next in status to Members. Those choosing this enclosure have access to the main betting area and the paddock.


A horse whose lineage can be traced back to any of the three founding sires: Darley Arabian, Byerly Turk and Godolphin Arabian.

Through The Card (TTC)

When a jockey, a particular number, a punter, the favourites, or a racing tipster etc., has been successful at every event at a particular meeting, they are described as having gone 'through the card'.


The sign language used by UK bookmakers to communicate with each other at track-side.

Tight Track

Generally a narrow track with tight turns that suits smaller, nippier horses, such as Cartmel or Kelso.


The betting forecast deigned to predict the odds of each runner in an event.

Tongue- Tie

This is a breathing aid used on horses. It is a strip of cloth which stabilizes the tongue to stop it from sliding over the bit.

Tote (betting)

Introduced in Britain in 1929 to offer pool betting on racecourses. All the stakes on a particular bet are pooled, before a deduction is made to cover the Tote's costs and contribution to racing. The remainder of the pool is divided by the number of winning units to give a dividend that is declared inclusive of a £1 stake. Odds fluctuate according to the pattern of betting and betting ceases when the race starts.


The person responsible for looking after a horse and preparing it to race. A trainer must hold a license or permit to be entitled to train.


An accumulator bet in which you make three selections, and all must come in for the bet to be successful. All three horses are required to win.


Selecting which horse will finish first, second and third in an event and in which order. All three must come in for a return.


A bet placed on the Tote that requires the first three finishing horses to be named in the correct order.


The distance of the race.

Triple Crown

In Britain, for colts the Triple Crown comprises the 2,000 Guineas, the Derby and the St Leger; for fillies, the 1,000 Guineas, the Oaks and the St Leger. Winning all three races is a rare feat, last achieved by a colt (Nijinsky) in 1970 and by a filly (Oh So Sharp) in 1985. The American Triple Crown comprises the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes.


Trixie’s consist of 4 bets involving 3 selections in different events. The bet includes 3 doubles and 1 treble. A minimum of 2 of your selections must be successful to gain any returns.

Turn of foot

A horse's ability to accelerate in the closing stages of a race. A horse with a ‘good turn of foot' has good finishing speed.

Turned out

1) Racecourses often have a ‘best turned out' award for the horse judged to have been best presented in the paddock. 2) A racehorse that is taking a break from racing/training and is out in the fields is said to have been ‘turned out'.


Every horse officially turns two on January 1, at the start of the second full calendar year following its birth e.g. a horse born in 2008 will turn two on January 1, 2010. Two-year-old horses are also known as juveniles, and this is the first age at which horses are allowed to compete on the Flat (the youngest racing age over jumps is three years old).

Under Starters Orders or Under Orders

Refers to the starting of a race. "They're off!" refers to the horses starting the race.


A horse that is not expected to win.


A person employed to prepare a jockey’s equipment in the weighing room.


A device fitted to a horse’s head to restrict its field of vision in order to help its concentration. Similar to blinkers, but with a slit in each eye cup to allow some lateral vision. A horse wearing a visor is denoted on a race card by a small v next to the horse’s weight (v1 indicates that the horse is wearing a visor in a race for the first time).


Walk-overs occur when only one participant runs in the race. In order to collect the prize money the participant must go through the normal procedure. For bet-settling purposes, the winner of a walk-over is considered a non-runner.

Weigh In / Weigh Out

Where a jockey is weighed to make sure he is the required and stated weight. When all the jockeys have weighed in this is the official declaration ratifying a race result.

Weighing in/out

Each jockey (wearing his racing kit and carrying his saddle) must stand on official weighing scales before and after the race, so that the Clerk of the Scales can check that the jockey is carrying the correct weight allotted to his horse. If a jockey is above the allotted weight before the race, his horse can still compete but must carry overweight. When the weights carried by the winner and placed horses have been verified after the race, there will be an announcement that they have ‘weighed in’. This confirms the race result and at this point bookmakers will pay out on successful bets.

Weight Cloth

A cloth with pockets for lead weights placed under the saddle.

Weight for age

A graduated scale that shows how horses of differing ages progress month by month during the racing season, the differences being expressed in terms of weight. This allows horses of differing ages to compete against each other on a fair basis, based on their age and maturity, in what are known as weight-for-age races.


Lead strips placed in a weight cloth to bring the jockey up to the handicap weight of the race.

Well in

When a horse is considered to be favoured by the weights in a race, it is said to be ‘well in’.


Or stick. Used by jockey as an aid to encourage or steer and balance the horse.

Win bet/only

A single bet on a horse to finish first. Win only markets signify that no each-way betting is available.

Work rider

A stable employee, not necessarily a licensed jockey, who rides horses in training on the gallops.


A bet on four selections that covers the six doubles, four trebles and one fourfold.


A trainer’s premises from where racehorses are trained.


A horse of either sex during 1 January to 31 December following the year of its birth.


Irish term to describe racecourse going that is soft.



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