Horse Racing – Jargon Buster

Posted on July 9, 2009. Filed under: Sports |

Maybe you had a look at our Horse Racing markets but weren’t quite sure about all the terminology used? Worry no longer, as here is our extensive Horse Racing Jargon Buster – a huge list with every racing term you’re ever likely to come across:


A horse that has entry confirmed as the forfeit stage of a race’s entry schedule and the owner pays a supplement. Accumulator bet involving two or more selections in different races: winnings from one are placed on the next

Is the weight concession the horse is given to compensate for its rider’s inexperience

All Weather Racing
Flat racing which takes place on an artificial surface

A non professional jockey who does not accept a fee for riding and who can be identified on racecards, as their names are prefixed by Mr, Mrs, Captain, etc. to indicate their amateur status

Betting (usually on the most important races) days, weeks and even months before the race is due to take place

Young jockey tied by annually renewed contract to a licensed trainer while he or she is learning to race-ride. Their weight allowance reduces in direct relation to the number of winners they ride.


A physically immature horse. Thoroughbreds born in the Northern Hemisphere take the 1st January as their birthday – a horse born in April will be backward compared to one born in early February.

If a race is over subscribed with runners a draw will take place at Weatherbys to reduce the field for safety reasons.

A betting term that denotes a longer price except those listed.

A horse with a brown body and black mane and tail.

Black Type
A horse with lots of black type means it is from a family with good winning credentials in high class races. This is denoted by bold type in a horses pedigree.

A hood that fits over a horses head to prevent it from seeing sideways, this helps the horse to concentrate it’s attention ahead during a race.

Blown Up
When a horse starts to drop out of contention during a race due to lack of fitness.

Boxed In
When a horse is trapped between, behind or inside of other horses during a race.

Breeze Up
A gentle canter – this is the pace in which most exercise is done and from which the knowledgeable can judge a horse’s action and athleticism.

Broken Down
When a horse sustains an injury – normally a tendon or soft tissue injury requiring a long rest to recover.


A horse with a ‘ginger’ body, mane and tail.

An apprentice flat race jockey

There are five British Classics: The Stan James 1000 Guineas, The Stan James 2000 Guineas, The Derby, The Oaks and The St Leger

Clerk of the Course
The person responsible for the overall management of a racecourse during raceday. The Clerk of the Course at Chester is Ed Gretton

A jockey’s shirt of ‘silks’ which identifies the owner of the racehorse.

A male, ungelded horse up to four years old

Refers to how well a horse looks and is judged on a combination of muscle tone, shine of coat and general demeanor.

Conditional Jockey
The jumping equivalent of an apprentice

Conditions Races
A race that is not Group, Listed, Handicap or a Novice and is not restricted to Maidens, neither is it governed by Selling or Claiming provisions or restricted to Amateur or Apprentice Riders.

Anyone connected with a horse: it can be as distant as the spouse of a syndicate owner or as close as the horse’s lad.

Cut in the ground
A description of the ground condition, where there is ‘give’ in the surface – also known as ‘soft going’.

Course Specialist
A horse which tends to run well at a particular track


The mother of a horse

When a trainer declares the horse to run 48 hours before the race.

The length of a race: 5 furlongs is the shortest and the 41/2 miles of the Grand National the longest. Also, the margin by which a horse wins or is beaten by the horse in front: this ranges from a short head to ‘by a distance’ (more than 30 lengths); a ‘length’ is measured from the horse’s nose to the start of its tail

Where there are too many entries for a race it can be run in two divisions

A flat racing term, describes a horse’s position in the starting stalls, drawn randomly not less than 24 hours before a race is run.


Evens or even money
When your stake exactly equals your winnings – thus £5 at evens wins a further £5


A female horse aged up to four years

A horse of either sex that has not reached it’s first birthday (all thoroughbreds take 1st January as their birthday)

Refers to a horse’s race record. This is denoted b figures next to the horse’s name on the racecard.

220 yards (one eighth of a mile or 201 metres)


A castrated horse

Get the trip
Usually said of a horse that is expected to complete the race distance.

The description of conditions under foot on the racecourse. Official jockey club going reports progress as follows: heavy – soft – good to soft – good – good to firm – firm – hard

If a horse is described as green, they are inexperienced

Group Race
Also known as a pattern races, these are the premier contest of Flat racing. Group races are composed of a series of tests for theleading horses of all ages over different distances. Group One races are the Classics and other races of major international importance. Group Two races are also of international importance and Group Three races are mostly domestic races and are considered to be preparatory for the higher Groups. Pattern races are designed to ensure first class, competitive racing throughout Europe.


Hacked Up
When a horse wins easily.

Unit of four inches in which a horse’s height is measured, at the shoulder

A handicap race in which the weight each horse has to carry is individually allotted according to its past performance to make the chances of all horses in the race more equal

When a horse does not run in a straight line it is said to be hanging to the left or to the right


A betting phrase for the favourite in a race – the horse with the shortest odds

The official responsible for declaring the finishing order of a race and the distances between the runners

A two-year-old Flat horse


A length of a horse is the distance from the nose to the tail. It is used in race results to describe the winning distance.

Listed Races
Races for good horses just short of Group status.


A horse of any age, which has not won a race

A female horse five years and over

8 furlongs (1.6 km)

A betting term for £500


A horse that has not won more than 2 races

A handicap race for 2 year old horses


A complaint by one jockey against another regarding breach of rules during a race

Odds on
Odds where the winnings are less than the stake (which is of course returned to you): thus a winning £2 bet at 2-1 on wins you £1

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

Off the bit/off the bridle
Describes a horse being pushed along by his jockey, losing contact with the bit in his mouth

On the bit/on the bridle
Describes a horse going well within himself, still having a grip on the bit

On the nod
When a race is so close that one horse is at the wrong point in his stride and loses the race ‘on the nod’ as the winning horse is at the point in his stride where his head is forward.

Over the top
Where a horse is said to have gone if he has passed his peak for the season


‘up with the pace’ means close to the leaders; ‘off the pace’ means some way behind the leaders

The area of the racecourse incorporating the pre-parade ring, parade ring and winner’s enclosure.

the elite races, divided in flat racing into groups one, two, three and listed, and in jumping into grades one, two and three

Additional weight carried by a horse on account of previous wins. 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.

Photo finish
An electronic photographic device which determines minimal distances in a close finish

A horse that is placed first, second or third.

Lightweight horseshoes designed for racing

A betting phrase for £25

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


When a horse wins a race or has raced three times, it is given a rating the Official Handicapper. Everything relating to handicapping is doe on a weight basis. The weighting range is 0-140 where each point is equivalent to 1lb. Therefore, a horse rated 131 is better than a horse rated 125. To dead heat, the better horse would in theory have to carry 6lbs more.

Rule 4
Betting rule covering deductions made from winning bets if a horse is withdrawn after the betting market has been formed but before the ‘under starter’s orders’ signal; the amount deducted depends on the price of the withdrawn horse


The potential for physical development in a horse

Race after which the winner is offered for sale by auction

Short runner
A horse who barely stays, or doesn’t stay, the minimum distance -five furlongs on the flat, two miles over jumps

Father of a horse

Spread a plate
when a racing plate or horseshoe becomes detached from an animal’s hoof, this sometimes causes a delay while the horse is re-shod

A horse which shortens dramatically in the betting

Any race of 5 or 6 furlongs

SP/Starting price
the official price of a horse at which bets are settled in betting shops

Horses with a lot of stamina who perform best over 2 miles on the flat.

The panel of men and women -usually a total of four – who are responsible for seeing that the rules of racing are adhered to

Stewards’ enquiry
An enquiry by the stewards into the running of a race

A group of people who share the expense of owning a racehorse.


The colloquial term for Tattersalls

A horse whose parentage traces back to any of the three ‘founding sires’, the Darley Arabian, Byerly Turk and Godolphin Arabian.

The bookmaker’s method of relaying odds information on the racecourse, by means of hand signals

The opinion offered by an individual (tipster) on the likely winner of a race


Under starter’s orders or under orders
Occurs when the race is off; an announcement that the horses are ‘under starter’s orders – they’re off’ is made as the horses leave the stalls: if a horse is withdrawn by the starter all bets are refunded


Runs the register of racing: from owners colours to pedigrees, to horses names. All race entries are also made through Weatherbys.

A ‘race’ with only one runner

Weigh in/weigh out
Weighing of jockey before and after a race to ensure that the correct weight has been carried; the announcement ‘weighed in’ signals that the result is official, and all bets can be settled

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

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


A combination bet involving four selections in different races: six doubles, four trebles and one four-horse accumulator -eleven bets

Horse of either sex from 1 January to 31 December of the year following its birth


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