Horse Racing Terminology

As a rookie on at the races a frequent thought going through your head might be: "What on earth are these people talking about?!" when overhearing experienced punters conversing with one another. As in any specialised environment, the race track seems to have a secret language of its own, eluding the uninitiated. While we can't promise to turn you into a complete shark overnight, we can offer you a translation of terms you will frequently hear trackside to boost your confidence on your race day. After all, it is nice to know what everyone is talking about.




A bet on several consecutive races, which uses the winnings from the previous race as stakes for the next.


A horse carrying an inexperienced rider is given a weight concession to even its chances.


Term for the artificial surface tracks, which can be raced on in all weather conditions.


Placing a bet in the days/weeks/months before the actual race day.


A bet which is considered a very sure thing.

Betting Ring

Part of the paved area in front of the Grand Stand, which is where the bookmakers operate. Also referred to as Jungle.

Board Prices

Currently available odds displayed on the boards of the on-course bookmakers; the Starting Price is derived from the board prices.


Bookmakers' term for 2/1 odds.


Informal term for a flat race run by young jump horses to help them gain experience.


Bookmakers' term for 3/1 odds; a Double Carpet means 33/1 odds.


Horse sharings its position on top of the favourites' list with at least two other horses.


Normally refers to the owner and trainer of a horse, but can encompass everyone involved with the horse's business.

Course Specialist

A horse familiar with the track and a good history of running at this particular track.


Bookmakers' term for 10/1 odds.


Regarding a horse's place in the starting stalls, as the stall numbers are drawn at random.


Increase of the odds on a certain horse, due to lack of supporting bets for the horse.

Even Money

A stake bringing equal winnings, 1/1.


1/8th of a mile, 220 yards.

Fiddling Its Fences

A horse clearing the obstacles at a jump race, however not very neatly.


A male, castrated horse.


Refers to the condition of the race course - heavy, soft, good to soft, good, good to firm, firm going.


An inexperienced horse.


Measurement for a horse's height. One hand = four inches.


A race in which every horse has to carry an individually specified amount of weight in order to give every horse in the race an equal chance to win (stronger horse - more weight, etc).

Joint Favourite

Two horses on even terms concerning chances.


The favourite in a race.


Two-year-old horse.


A race below group standard (elite events) but above handicap and conditions races (oped for all).


A horse who has not yet won a race.



National Hunt

Traditional name for Jump Races.

No Offers

A bookmaker refusing to offer bets on a certain horse.


A handicap race for two-year-olds.


One jockey complaining against another.

Odds On

Odds which leave the win lower than the stake, i.e. 4/9.

Open Ditch

Jump Race obstacle with a ditch on the take-off side.

Parade Ring

Area of the paddock in which the horses are paraded before the race for viewing by bettors and spectators.


Added weight to the handicap weight of a horse.


A quick and neat jump over an obstacle.

Photo Finish

A race so close it has to be judged on the photograph on the winning moment.


Racing horse shoes.




Program of the day's races.


A horse trained for jump races.


A horse's potential.

Spread a Plate

A horse losing a shoe during the race.

Starting Price

An estimate of odds available at the race start.


System of hand signals/sign language used by the bookmakers to converse.


A race involving only one horse and jockey.

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