Horse Racing Terms Explained

You always do better at a job when you have the right tools…

So let us help explain all the jargon you may have already heard across the horse racing world.

Here’s a full rundown from A-Z so you will never be stuck scratching your head ever again!


Abandoned: A race or racecourse that is closed as a result of bad weather.

Accumulator: An accumulative bet that involves more than one horse and typically requires that all horses on the bet slip win in order to be successful.

All-weather: An artificial track that can be raced on all year round even in adverse weather conditions.

Allowance: To compensate for their inexperience, novice riders may be allowed a weight concession – usually 3lb, 5lb or 7lb – for their horse.

Amateur Jockey: A novice jockey is one that is not yet qualified and is referred to as Mr or Miss on the racecard.

Ante-post: A bet placed before the betting market opens on the expectation that the price of the horse is presently more favourable than it will be when the course’s market opens.

Apprentice: Young jockeys who work for/with a trainer while they gain valuable riding experience.


Backed In: A situation where people bet on the same horse and thus its odds will shorten.

Banker: A favoured horse in a race whose odds will reflect their likelihood of winning.

Best Odds Guaranteed: A promise by a bookmaker that you’ll get paid out at the higher odds if the Starting Price on a horse is longer than when you backed it earlier in the day.

Bit: A stainless steel bar that sits in the horse’s mouth and is attached to the bridle.

Black Type: A race which is of Listed or Group class.

Blinkers: A type of headgear fitted to a horse that limits its field of vision, mainly from each side, to aid focus during a race.

Bloodstock: The part of the racing industry that deals with racehorse breeding, whether it’s at the sales, stud farms or elsewhere.

Boxed-in: When a horse cannot obtain a clear run during a race due to other horses being in close proximity.

Bridle: A piece of tack that fits over a horse’s head to which the bit and reins are attached.

Brought Down: A horse who falls during a race because of another horse.

Bumper: A flat course race that inexperienced jump horses need to complete before they go hurdling or chasing.

Horse Racing Terms Explained - Blinkers
Horse Racing Terms Explained – Blinkers


Chase: A race run over fences.

Cheekpieces: A form of headgear that acts as blinkers usually made up of pieces of sheepskin.

Claimer: A race in which a horse has been purposefully handicapped by its owner.

Co-favourite: A title given to a horse or horses that are equally likely to win a race and have the lowest odds.

Colt: A young male horse (typically younger than four years old) that hasn’t been castrated.

Conditional Jockey: A jockey at the same level as an apprentice who is allowed to jump.

Conditions Race: A race that’s only open to horses that have met certain conditions.

Connections: The owner(s) and trainer(s) of a particular horse.

Course Specialist: A horse that has either won or set a good time at a specific race before.


Dam: The mother of a horse.

Dead-heat: A tie between two or, rarely, more horses in a race for a win or placing.

Declared: A trainer’s formal notification declared either 24-hours or 48-hours to notify the racing authorities that they intend to run a horse in a certain race.

Draw: In flat racing this refers to the horses’ starting position in the stalls.

Draw Bias: The belief that one starting position is better than another.

Drift: When a horse is ‘on the drift’ its price increases due to a lack of support.

Drifter: A horse whose odds grow larger because few people are backing it.


Each-way: A bet placed on a horse to finish within the places, normally 1-3, but can be longer.

Even Money: A stake that brings equal money back and pays at 1/1 odds.


Favourite: A horse that bookmakers believe is most likely to win and thus will offer short odds on the chance of it doing so.

Fences: An obstacle jumped during chase races. These can be an open-ditch, the water jump or a plain fence.

Filly: A young female horse of up to four years old.

Fixed Odds: A type of bet that means the odds are ‘fixed’ to when you place it.

Flat Racing: A race that takes place without jumps, fences or obstacles of any kind.

Foal: A horse aged younger than one.

Fold: The number of bets in an accumulator. For example, an ACCA with five legs would be called a five-fold.

Forecast: A bet that asks you to predict the winner and runner-up in a single race.

Front-runner: The horse that is out in front of the chasing pack.

Furlong: 220 yards.

Horse Racing Terms Explained - Fences
Horse Racing Terms Explained – Fences


Gallop: A training strip used to exercise horses.

Gelding: A male horse that has been castrated in order to be easier to train.

Going: A term that describes the condition of the race course, ranging from heavy to firm.

Graded Race: A grade assigned to denote the quality of a race. Grade 1 races are the highest quality, with Grade 2 and Grade 3 races a slightly lower quality.

Green: An inexperienced horse.

Guineas: The original currency that horses were bought and sold in.


Hacked Up: A horse who has won a race comfortably.

Hand: A unit of measurement for a horse’s height meaning four inches.

Handicap: A race where horses are allowed to carry different weights from each other leading to an even race.

Hedging: Placing a bet in order to cover another bet and mitigate potential losses.

Hood: Another type of headgear fitted over the horse’s head to cover its ears and muffle the noise of a race day.

Hurdles: The obstacles jumped during a hurdle race.


Jackpot: A Tote-style bet that requires you to correctly pick the winners of all listed races.

Jockey: The person riding the horse.

Jolly: The favourite horse in any given race.

Juvenile: A two-year-old horse.


Lay: A bet placed on a horse to lose.

Left-handed: A racecourse that runs anticlockwise where the rails are on the jockey’s left hand side.

Length: The length of a horse from its nose to the start of its tail. It also refers to a measurement used to describe the distances between horses at the finish line.

Level Weights: A race where all horses are of the same of weight.

Listed Race: A race that is below Grades 1, 2 and 3 but is still considered to be better than a handicap race or a conditions race.

Long-shot: A horse without much chance of winning and therefore very long odds.


Maiden: A horse that hasn’t won a race.

Mare: A female horse aged five or older.


Nap: Usually the best bet from a tipster on any given day.

National Hunt: Another name for a jumps race.

Neck: A measurement used to describe a winning margin in a close finish.

Non-runner: A horse withdrawn from a race for which it had previously been declared.

Noseband: A strap that goes over a horse’s nose to secure the bridle. It helps prevent the horse from getting its tongue over the bit which can obstruct its breathing.

Novice: A race for horses who are in their first season in that code of racing.

Nursery: The name given to a handicap for horses under the age of two.

Horse Racing Terms Explained - Nosebanded
Horse Racing Terms Explained – A Nosebanded Runner


Objection: A formal complaint made by one jockey about another rider.

Odds On: When the winnings of a bet are less than the initial stake put in.

Off The Bit / On The Bit: A term used to denote whether the horse still has the bridle in its mouth when racing.

Off The Bridle: A horse that is not travelling well.

Official Result: This is the result declared after the ‘Weighed-in’ declaration has been made and after which point bets will be paid out on, irrespective of whether there is then a steward’s inquiry or a change to the result.

On The Bridle: A horse that is travelling well.

On The Nose: An alternative way of saying that you’d like to place a Win bet.

One-paced: A horse who cannot quicken when the tempo of the race increases.

Open Ditch: A jump with a ditch in front of it, facing the jockey, that forces the horse to make a longer jump than at a plain fence.

Outsider: A horse whose chance of winning is considered unlikely by the market.

Owner: The person, people or organisation that owns a horse.

P, Q

Pacemaker: A horse that is owned or trained by the same people that own another horse in the race and that races with the aim of ensuring the even tempo of a race.

Pacesetter: Another term for pacemaker.

Paddock: The area of a racecourse where horses are paraded before each race.

Parade Ring: Another term for paddock.

Penalty: Extra weight that a horse may have to carry if it has previously won a handicap race.

Photo Finish: A photo taken at the end of the race that is used to determine the winner and the placings behind the winner if many horses finish the race together.

Place: Finishing within the top few horses.

Placepot: A Tote-style bet where you must predict horses to place rather than win a set number of races.

Plate: A horse’s racing shoe.

Postponed: When it is agreed that the race will take place at another time instead of the original time.

Pulled Up: A horse who is brought to a halt during a race by its jockey.

Pulling: A horse who is keen during a race and wants to go faster than its jockey is allowing.

Punter: An individual who has had a bet on the outcome of a race.

Pushed Out: A horse who has gone clear of its rivals in a race after minimal urging from its jockey.

Horse Racing Terms Explained - Paddock
Horse Racing Terms Explained – Paddock


Racecard: The programme of the day’s races.

Rating: A score given to a horse based on certain criteria such as its past performances. The better a horse’s rating the more likely it is to win a race.

Reverse Forecast: A bit similar to a straight Forecast except that the horses can come first or second in either order.

Right-handed: A racecourse that runs clockwise where the rails are on the jockey’s right hand side.

Rule 4: This is only enacted if a horse is withdrawn without sufficient time to change the odds of the rest of the race. Essentially, all other odds are reduced via a specific formula to compensate for the horse leaving.


Schooled: A horse that has been trained to jump over obstacles.

Scope: A horse’s potential.

Seller: A race where the winner is put up for auction afterwards.

Short Head: How close the runner-up in the race came to winning it.

Silks: An owner’s colours.

Single: A one-off bet settled according to the odds offered when it was placed.

Sire: The father of a horse.

Sprinter: A horse who competes in races run over a short (usually over six furlongs or less) distance.

Stable Jockey: A jockey that is signed up to ride for a particular trainer from a specific stable.

Stall: A box that horses are put into for specific races and released from when the race begins.

Stallion: A male horse used for breeding.

Staying On: A horse who finished strongly during the closing stages.

Steward’s Enquiry: A situation when the stewards look into a particular aspect of a race for any forbidden behaviour.

Stewards: A group of officials who ensure that rules are adhered to.

Horse Racing Terms Explained - Stewards Inquiry
Horse Racing Terms Explained – A Stewards Enquiry


Tailed Off: A horse that drops away from the front runners so much that it is unlikely to catch up to them.

Thoroughbred: The breed of horse best known for its use in horse racing.

Tongue-tie: A strap or piece of stocking that is used to tie down a horse’s tongue to prevent the tongue getting over the bit which affects a horse’s breathing.

Tote: A pool-type betting system that was originally under the control of the government.

Trainer: The person who has trained the horse.

Tricast: An attempt to predict the first three horses to finish a race and the order that they’ll finish in.


Under Starter’s Orders: The action of the starter who brings the field of horses into order ahead of the start of the race.

Underdog: A horse that is unlikely to win but is still favoured by some.

Undulating: A track that does not have a flat terrain.


Visor: A similar type of headgear that has a small slit in the eye cup which limits a horse’s rearward vision to help with concentration.

Void: When a bet is declared to be invalid and your stake is returned.


Walkover: A race with only one jockey and one horse.

Weighed-in: An announcement made to indicate that every jockey has weighed-in both before and after a race.

Weight Allowance: An inexperienced jockey can be given a certain weight allowance to account for this fact. On occasion, horses will be given an allowance in a race depending on their sex or age.

Weight Cloth: Fabric that weights are put inside of when a horse must carry weight either because of a penalty or handicap.

Weight For Age: Races that are non-handicap affairs and, thus, the amount of weight a horse has to carry is decided by the weight-for-age scale.

Whip: An instrument used by jockeys to help keep horses under control and to encourage them.

Withdrawn: A horse that is removed from the race before it actually begins.

X, Y, Z

Yearling: A horse under the age of one, with its birthday on the 1st January.

So there you have it…

Horse Racing Terms Explained.

We hope that this was helpful and now the terms have been explained, it will hopefully help you make the right call.

The Premium Tipsters.

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