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Horse Racing Terms

A Glossary Of Horse Racing Terms

Horse remaining in race after a key declaration stage

All out
Giving everything/not holding back

weight relief of up to 7lb awarded to an inexperienced rider

Also ran
Horse not among winners in a race

Amateur Rider
Jockey without a license from the Jockey Club, who does not receive a fee for riding in a race

Ante-post odds
Quotations offered in advance of the day of a particular race. Bets so placed are lost if your horse is a non-starter.

Jockey in training

At the post
the point at which horses gather immediately before the start of a race

Best In
In handicap races, the horse that is considered favourite at the 'weigh in'.

A term used in connection with bookmakers' prices. e.g. '6 - 1 bar two' means that you can obtain at least 6 - 1 about any horse bar the first two in betting, and '10 - I bar three' means at least 10-1 about any horse bar the first three in betting.

A form of headgear which prevents a horse looking either left or right. Sometimes called 'blinds'.

A means of communication between racecourse and betting shops/offices. Run by the Exchange Telegraph Co.

Blue Bet
A bet which is not genuine but made as bait to catch mug punters.

Board price
The price offered against each horse on the book-maker's board, or display area, in betting shops, etc. 'Taking the board price' means taking the last price shown against your selection at the time you strike the bet.

Bookie's Runner
A person who who works on behalf of a bookmaker on course

Bridle, won on the
Won easily, without being pushed out.

Claiming Race
race where the winner can be "claimed" from the yard for a set fee.

This term is used to describe the five major three-year-old races of the flat season: the 1000 Guineas, the 2000 Guineas, the Derby, the Oaks and the St Leger. Of these, fillies can be entered for all five, but colts cannot be entered for the 1000 Guineas or the Oaks.

Classic pretensions
Holding some hope of success in one of the classic races (Two Thousand Guineas, One Thousand Guineas, Derby, Oaks, St Leger).

Clerk of the Course
Racecourse official responsible for overall management of a racecourse, including going

Collateral form
When two horses, A and B, have run on separate occasions against a third horse, C, the form of A and B on a line through C is known as collateral form.

Commission agent
A bookmaker who passes on the bets he collects from his clients to another bookmaker while he himself relies on the commission paid for the business.

Conditional Jockey
The jumping equivalent of an apprentice.

Corner horse
A horse, holding its position in the market, whose price is many points shorter than that shown in the betting forecasts (e.g. average suggested price 100 - 8, actual price, firm at 9 - 2). Should not be freely tipped by the racing correspondents.

Course Specialist
Horse which tends to run well at a particular track.

Covered Up
Keeping a horse behind other runners to prevent it running too freely in the early stages of a race.

A horse's mother.

Daily Tote Double
The third and fifth races on the card comprise this pool. Tickets are K1 each.

Daily Tote Treble
The second, fourth and sixth races on the card comprise this pool. Tickets are 50p each.

Dark Horse
Probably a good horse, but its full potential is unknown.

Dead Heat
This is when two or more selections cannot be separated by the judge even after consulting the photo finish. When settling bets, simply halve the stake.

The disdtance of a race: Five furlongs is the minimum and the four and a half miles of the Grand National is the longest. Also the margin by which a horse is beaten by the horse directly in front. This ranges from a short head to 'by a distance' (more than thirty lengths.

A multiple bet. Thus in a win double both horses must finish first for the double to succeed. In an each-way or place double both horses must be placed to draw the place double dividend.

Indicates races at the same meeting.

The starting positions allotted to horses contesting races on the flat (there is no draw for positions over jumps). In this country the lowest numbers are on the left, as seen from behind the stalls.

Dual Forecast
A Tote bet involving the forecast of the first and second horses in a race, either order.

Each way
Both win and place.

Even break
Get away on level terms with the others.

Flat Racing
the Flat Season begins at the end of March and runs through to the end of September on turf. Races are run over a minimum distance of five furlongs up to a maximum of twenty two furlongs. The official flat racing season now runs for a calendar year to include those flat races run on all-weather surfaces such as at Lingfield, Southwell and Wolverhampton.

Nominating not only the winner but the second as well. A straight forecast = 1st and 2nd in correct order. A dual forecast =1st and 2nd in either order.

Condition of health and training.

An eighth of a mile (220 yards).

Castrated Horse.

Get the trip
Stay the distance.

The state of the ground on which racing will take place. (Hard, Firm, Good, Soft, Dead, Holding, Heavy.)

Good money
Money from an informed quarter - stable money, for example - not mug money.

Races in which horses are allotted diferent weights with the object of nullifying any disparity in their ability.

Professional responsible for alloting the the weights to be carried by each horse in a handicap.

Pass on part or all of a wager thereby reducing liability or, ideally, trading at such favourable odds that a win must materialize whatever the result.

Infrequently used in Britain. Covers the whole head including the ears and is of value when a horse dislikes the sound of other animals.

Official responsible for declaring the finishing order of a race and the distances between the runners.

Two-year-old horse.

Key races
Races which, because of their quality or the exceptional time in which they were run, are likely to act as an important guide in future contests.

Knock out
Coup in which by manipulating the odds at the course a generous starting price is achieved for the favourite, the benefit of which is enjoyed with the S.F. commission away from the course.

The Tote Jackpot comprises the second to sixth races inclusive. All five winners have to be nominated. Tickets are 50p each.

A fiver, emanating from the Cockney rhyming slang, 'Lady Godiva'.

A bookmaker's offer quoting the price at which he wishes to trade. 'I'll lay 6-4 this favourite.'

Left handed track
Raceourse where horses run anti-clockwise.

Much of the money that goes towards prizes and improvements to racecourses comes from amounts collected from bookmakers, based on their turnover. The body responsible for this is known as the Levy Board.

Maiden race
Ostensibly for those horses, colts, geldings or fillies, which have never won a race. However, conditions sometimes permit previous winners (e.g. maidens at closing, i.e. those which have not won a race up to the time the entries close), in which case penalties are allotted for later wins.

A female horse of five years or older.

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

Mark you card
Make selections for each race.

Slang for £500.

The main selection.

No offers
A certain horse having no quotation - the book-makers are not betting on it for the moment.

Inexperienced Horse.

A handicap race for two-year-olds.

the ration between the amounts staked on the outcome of a bet, based on the probability either way.

Odds e.g. 1/7 when the the denominator is larger than the numerator (i.e. in this instance, the bookmaker is asserting that there is a 6 out of 7 chance that the horse will win).

Odds e.g. 7/1 when the numerator is larger than the denominator.(i.e. in this instance, the bookmaker is asserting that there is a 1 out of 7 chance that the horse will win).

Off (Is it off?)
Is the animal in question going to run to the best of its ability?

On the nose
to win (that horses nose to be in front of the rest.

Outside stable
A stable other than the one by which the jockey is retained or employed, or for which he normally rides.

Over round
Number, expressing the percentage "take" a bookmaker has on a race. i.e. 117 = the number of pounds one would have to stake if one placed a bet on every horse in the race to win £100. Usually between 115 and 135.

Over the top
Beyond its best.

when Jockeys riding weight (of jockey + tack) is above the minimum allowed by the handicapper.

Area of the race course incorporating the pre-parade ring (where horses are paraded prior to the race) and winner's enclosure.

The Tote system operated in certain countries such as France and the USA.

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

Pigeon catcher
Exceedingly fast.

Similar rules to the Jackpot, but your selections have only to be placed.


Prevented from winning, or at least from obtaining a better placing, by the jockey.

A person who gambles or lays a bet

The dividing barrier between Members' and Tattersall's where the big bookmaking firms are represented.

Ride work
Exercise horses on their home training-ground/ gallops.

The bookmakers - collectively - in one of the enclosures.

Selling race
A race the winner of which is afterwards sold at auction.

Bookmakers employee who calculates bets.

Silver ring
An enclosure cheaper than Tattersall's and usually sited adjacent to it.

A horse whose price shortens dramatically, each new quotation being taken up (e.g. from 20-1, 100 - 8, 10 - 1, 8 - 1, 6-1, 5 - 1, 9 - 2, 4 - 1 to an S.P. of 7 - 2).

Stable's betting pattern
The method usually adopted by connections when placing the stable money.

Starting price
The final price prevailing at the time the race starts.

A form of National Hunt racing run over distances of two miles up to four and a half miles, where the horses jump fences of varying height, and consistency.

Steward's Enquiry
On any suspected infringements of the 'Rules of Racing' the Stewards hold an investigation. These are carried out in a similar manner to objections.

Jumps (hurdles or fences) as opposed to the Rat.

Suspect form
Form which may not be as sound as it looks on paper. e.g. a race run in absurdly slow time, or one in which the main contenders were unsuited by the ground.

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

A means of signalling with the arms (and usually white gloves). Used by bookmakers' agents to denote price changes, etc.

Popular handicapping service.

An individual who seeks to predict the outcome of a race.

Government owned bookmaker.

Tote rigging
Inflated returns are achieved by investing money on unwanted horses on the course - which goes into the Tote pool - while sizeable investments are made away from the course on the desired animals. The 'away' money does not normally find its way into the Tote pool.

A multiple bet. Thus in a win treble all three horses must win for the bet to succeed. In an each-way or place treble all three horses must be placed to draw the place treble return.

Not expected to win.

Weighed in
The official declaration ratifying the result.

Weight-for-age scale
The official scale of weight allowances accorded when a race is for animals of different age groups.