Horse Racing Terms

A small glossary of horse racing terms.

All Out A horse extending itself to its full capability.
Also Ran In Horse Racing all the runners who participated but finish outside the 'places' which pay out are described as also rans.
Ante Post In Ante Post bets with prices are offered well in advance of a race. You can seek Ante Post odds for a horse to win the next Grand National months ahead of time and you might get a better price, but you run the risk of your selection losing form or getting injured and not even taking part. So you could lose the bet if your selection does not finally take part in the event.
Apprentice A trainee jockey.
Apprentice allowance Weight concession given to an apprentice jockey. Represented on race cards behind the jockey’s name with a hyphen (e.g. james smith-2.5) and on results in the weight column with an asterisk (e.g. 56*2.5).
Back Often used with the word "to". E.g. "I want to back number 3." It means to place a wager on or bet on a selection with the expectation of that selection getting a result, e.g. winning.
Banker A bet placed on a horse that the punter expects to win with a high degree of certainty. The term is often used with multiple type bets like the PICK 6 where the punter chooses only one horse in one of the legs. He is "banking" on that horse coming through to win.
Bet Placing a wager on one or more races. There are many betting types. See Betting Types for a selection of different ways to place a bet.
Bit A stainless steel, rubber or aluminium bar, attached to the bridle, which fits in the horse's mouth and is one of the means by which a jockey exerts guidance and control.
Black Type A horse that has won, or been placed in, a stakes race. (Also, “Black Type” means those races which are printed in BOLD in breeding catalogues.)
Blanket Finish A finish so close that a blanket would cover all the contestants involved. In other words the end a of race where two or more horses finish very close to each other. This often results in using a photograph to decide the finishing order.
Bolt When a horse suddenly veers from a straight line.
Box A wagering term denoting a combination bet whereby all possible numeric combinations are covered.
Broodmare Female thoroughbred used for breeding.
Card The list of horses entered and accepted in a race prior to the race with all the race information such as venue, distance, stakes, date, time and the name of the race.
Class 1 A race type for horses who have not won more than one race.
Class 2 A race type for horses who have not won more than two races.
Class 3 A race type for horses who have not won more than three races.
Class 4 A race type for horses who have not won more than four races.
Class 5 A race type for horses who have not won more than five races.
Class 6 A race type for horses who have not won more than six races. After winning six races horses progress to open class handicap races and are not eligible for restricted class races.
Classic A top class flat race. In South Africa the word "classic" is used in the name of the race. Examples of classic races are the Triple Crown (SA Classic) and the Triple Tiara (Fillies Classic). In the UK the classic races are The Derby, Oaks, 1000 Guineas, 2000 Guineas and St.Leger.
Colours Reference to the silks worn by jockeys. The colours and design of the silks represent an owner.
Conditions Races In such races, the weight allocated to a horse is determined by its sex (males are required to carry more than females), its age (older horses are required to carry more than younger ones) and its past winnings (the more money that a horse has won, the more weight it is required to carry).
Colt A male horse of four years of age or less.
Dam Mother of a thoroughbred horse.
Dead Heat Horses finishing in an exact tie for a place in a race.
Declared A horse that is confirmed to start in a race.
Disqualified A horse which has its finishing place altered by the officials for a breach of racing rules.
Distance The length of a race. In South Africa that is given in metres, 1400m, 1600m, 2000m, etc. In the UK and the USA the race distances are measured in furlongs and miles. So what is a furlong in metres? 1 furlong = 201.168 metres. 8 furlongs = 1 mile. Here is a nice article that explains the furlong/mile system: Understanding Horse Race Distances: What Is a Furlong?.
Draw The stall number at the starting point of a race. Called that because the stall from which a horse starts is selected by a draw. A stall is often called a "gate".
Driving Finish The end of a race in which jockeys are strongly urging their mounts home.
Each way A bet type that captures a win and place bet on the same horse in a race.
Entry (or entries) Horses entered into a race. From the entries list the final selections are made for the race card.
Exacta Bet on the horses to finish 1st and 2nd in the exact (correct) order.
Exotic bets Bet on multiple horses in a single bet, allowing you to increase your profit potential.
Filly A female horse of four years of age or less.
Formline A reference to how the horses from a result fare in later races. A "good formline" refers to a situation where a few of the horses from a result came out to win in later races. It is very beneficial to a punter to find such a situation as it aids him to predict a winner in an upcoming race. Formgrids aids its users in finding "good formlines". Find out more about how to find and use formlines on Formgrids.
Gelding A male horse which has been neutered to curb its stallion tendencies in order to bring out the best of its racing, rather than its breeding, abilities.
Going Refers to the state of the ground or race track. Examples are Soft, Good, etc.
Handicap A race in which those horses with are perceived to have the greater abilities are allocated the most weight to carry. The aim is to have all the horses in the race cross the finishing line at the same time.
In the money Finishing first, second or third. Basically referring to the fact that if you placed a bet you would win some money.
Juvenile A horse race for two year olds.
Maiden A horse that has not won a race as yet.
Maiden race A race for non-winners.
Mare Female horse five-years-old or older.
Non-Black Type Means not a listed race, not a group 1, 2, or 3 but it may be a race with a good purse or stakes.
Objection Claim of foul lodged by rider or official. The final places will only be official after the objection has been resolved by a decision from the officials.
Photo finish A result so close it is necessary to use the finish-line camera to determine the order of finish.
Place A place is in some areas referred to the second placed horse. On some bets it can include the third or even (more rarely) the fourth placed horse.
Pollytrack An artificial race surface. Also referred to as an all-weather track.
Post A box (or a stall) at the starting point of a race from which the horse starts the race. Also see “draw”.
Result The published result of the race indicating the position (place) each horse achieved in the race.
Sand A racing surface composed of sand.
Scratched A horse removed from a race prior to the race starting. Race cards will show which horses are scratched.
Silks Jacket and cap worn by jockeys to designate owner of the horse. (Also see "colours".)
Sire The male parent (also see stallion).
Stallion A male horse used for breeding.
Stayer A horses that are able to run for long distances.
Steeplechase A race in which horses are required to jump over a series of obstacles on the course. Also known as a "chase."
Stewards Officials of the race meeting responsible for enforcing the rules of racing.
Stick A jockey's whip.
Stirrups Metal "D"-shaped rings into which a jockey places his/her feet. They can be raised or lowered depending on the jockey's preference. Also known as "irons."
Swinger A bet type where the punter picks two horses to finish in any order in the top three positions in a race.
Turf A racing surface composed of a type of grass.
Swinger A bet type where the punter picks two horses to finish in any order in the top three positions in a race.


Created: 2016-03-17 Revised: 2024-03-19