Horse Racing Glossary

Last Updated 3 weeks ago | Commercial content | 18+

Horse race betting is one of the oldest forms of sports gambling still in existence today. Therefore, it should come as little surprise that there is an entire A-Z of unique terms and phrases associated with the sport of Kings. If you’re a novice, let our horse racing glossary guide you around the parade ring so you can avoid Steward’s inquiry when you next have a punt at the bookies.

Horse Racing Terms | All Terms from A-Z

Jargon Buster & Glossary

  • Abandoned: A race which has been cancelled. Normally as a result of poor weather.
  • Accumulator: A bet involving more than one horse from different races in which each selection must-win for the punter to receive a payout.
  • Across the board: An equal-sized bet on the same horse to win, place, and show.
  • Age: How old the horse is.
  • Allowance: A weight concession for horses given to novice jockeys to offset their inexperience.
  • All-weather: An artificial/synthetic track which is open for racing all year regardless of weather conditions.
  • Ante-post: A bet which is made prior to race day and the final declarations.
  • Apprentice: The name that is given to trainee jockeys who are working with trainers to gain experience.
  • Banker: A term often used to describe the horse that is most probable to win. Many punters believe this is their dead cert.
  • Bar: Where the horses with the longest odds on a betting forecast are found. 20/1 Bar means all horses from that point have odds of 20/1 or greater.
  • Betting ring: the part of a racecourse where the on-track bookmakers conduct their business.
  • Blinkers: A piece of headgear worn by the horse to narrow its field of vision. Used on horses that get distracted by others around them.
  • Bloodstock: A term used to talk about a horse’s bloodline so people know who its ancestors are/were.
  • Board prices: The odds given by official on-track bookmakers.
  • Boxed bet: Often called a ‘boxed trifecta’, this a wager where the punter chooses three horses and they can finish in any order (1st, 2nd or 3rd) for the bet to win.
  • Boxed in: A phrase used during a race to identify a horse that has other horses in front and to the side so it has nowhere to move to.
  • Burlington Bertie: Bookie lingo for a horse priced at 100/30.
  • Canadian: A system bet consists of five selections and is made up of 10 doubles and 10 trebles, plus 5 four-fold accumulators and 1 five-fold accumulator. Total of 26 bets.
  • Card: A quick term used to speak about a specific meeting or race.
  • Carpet: Bookie lingo for odds of 3/1.
  • Chase: A race which is run over fences.
  • Classics: Refers to five specific flat races held in the UK: the Derby, Oaks, St Leger, 1,000 Guineas and 2,000 Guineas.
  • Clerk of the Course: Name given to the person in charge of the day’s racing at a specific course.
  • Colours: Usually, jockeys will wear certain colours which are associated with the stable/owner they are riding for.
  • Colt: A horse four years or younger that is yet to be castrated.
  • Conditional jockey: The name given to an apprentice jockey (or jockey of that level of experience) who is given permission to jump.
  • Co-favourites: The betting title given to two or more horses that have the joint lowest betting odds.
  • Connections: Name for the people (trainer, owner, etc) that are connected with a horse.
  • Course specialist: A horse that has won, set a good time or performed well (on multiple occasions) on a specific track.
  • Dam: The mother of a horse.
  • Dead Heat: Involves two or more horses crossing the line at the same time.
  • Double: A bet of two selections from separate races. Both horses need to win for the bet to payout.
  • Declared: Notification from the trainer which tells the relevant authorities that his/her horse intends to run in a certain race.
  • Draw: The number on the stall where a horse begins the race (flat only).
  • Drifting: Betting odds that are getting longer because the horse is unfancied.
  • Each way: A two-part bet covering the win and the place.
  • Even money: Betting term for a horse that is priced at 1/1, so the punters wins an equal amount to the sum wagered.
  • Exacta: Also known as a forecast. This is a bet where you pick two horses in the same race. One must finish first and the other second in the correct order.
  • Favourite: The horse with the lowest betting odds.
  • Filly: Name given to a female horse that is four years or younger.
  • Form: Refers to a horse’s previous race history.
  • Furlong: This simply means ⅛ of a mile.
  • Gelding: A castrated male horse.
  • Going: This term refers to the condition underfoot on the racetrack.
  • Goliath: An eight selection, 247 separate wagers system bet.
  • Group Race: the highest level of horse races, which feature the best horses.
  • Handful: Bookie lingo for a horse priced at 5/1.
  • Handicap: type of race in which horses can carry different weights to even things out.
  • Handicapper: The person in charge of deciding the handicap weights for horses.
  • Hurdles: The obstacles used in a hurdle race. These are not as tall as fences.
  • Joint Favourites: Same as co-favourite (above).
  • Jump racing: Refers to a race over fences or hurdles.
  • Juvenile: A two-year-old.
  • Maiden: Name used for a horse that is yet to win.
  • Monkey: Cockney slang for £500
  • Nap: A tipsters’ best bet of the day. The one he/she thinks has the best chance of winning.
  • National Hunt: Another name for races over jumps.
  • Nursery: A handicapped race for two-year-olds and below.
  • Objection: Relates to a jockey making a formal complaint about another jockey.
  • Odds on: When the price is below evens. Therefore, your winnings are less than the amount staked.
  • Off the Bridle: Means that a horse is not travelling well during the race.
  • Open ditch: A fence or hurdle with a ditch in front (before the jump).
  • Outsider: A horse that is unfancied to win.
  • Pacemaker: The horse(s) that set the race pace early on, usually as a tactic to help a stable companion.
  • Paddock: Part of the racecourse where the horses parade around before their race.
  • Photo finish: The photo taken at the end of a race to determine the winner if impossible to judge with the naked eye.
  • Plate: The name for the racing shoes worn by horses.
  • Racecard: The card listing the day’s races, runners and riders.
  • Rule 4: The rule which is used if a horse withdraws close to the start time which doesn’t allow bookies to adjust their odds.
  • Roof: Bookie lingo for odds of 4/1.
  • Selling race: After the race, the winner is sold off at auction.
  • Sire: Father of a horse.
  • Sprinter: Name for a horse that completes in race flats of 6 furlongs or less.
  • Starting price: Each horse’s odds just as the race begins.
  • Steward’s inquiry: This is when the race stewards check a race for an offence which may have altered the outcome.
  • Thoroughbred: The type of horses which are most commonly used for horse racing.
  • Tic tac: Hand signals used by on-track bookmakers to signal odds to punters and each other.
  • Trixie: A system bet made up of three selections and four separate bets (3 doubles and 1 treble).
  • Under starter orders: The seconds before the gun goes off and the race starts.
  • Xis: Bookie lingo for odds of 6/1.
  • Yearling: Name given to a horse under 1 year old on January 1st.