Glossary of Horse Racing Betting Terms Explained
Age - All racehorses have their official birthdays on January 1st of year regardless of the actual date when they were born.
All Weather Racing - Any race meetings that take place on an artificial surface. At present we have seven tracks in England and Ireland and three different kinds of surface - Fibresand, Polytrack and Tapeta.
Ante-Post - Any bet that is wagered well in advance of the actual event. Usually means bigger odds at the risk of the selection not running and you losing your stake.
Amateur Rider - A jockey that is not a professional and does not demand a fee for his services. Usually he/she can be identified on the race card by the prefix Mr, Mrs, Miss before their name.
Apprentice Jockey - An Apprentice Jockey can claim a weight allowance of 7lbs until they ride 20 winners, 5lbs until 50 winners and 3lbs until 95 winners.
Back - To have a bet on a horse that you think will win.
Bookmaker - A person or company licensed to accept bets on any race or sporting event.
Betting Market - A full list of the prices for a particular event. The shorter the price the more chance the bookmakers think it has of winning the race.
Board Price - Any price available on the bookmakers boards on the racecourse. The SP or starting price is taken from the last available board price.
Banker - A selection that is considered to have a high percentage chance of winning.
Bumper - Also called National Hunt Flat races; A flat race for inexperienced horses that is run under National Hunt rules. Horses can run in three such races before going on to race over hurdles.
Bar Price - Found at the end of a list of betting prices, the ‘bar’ price means any horse not quoted is available to back at that price or higher.
Blinkers - One of the many forms of headgear available. A hood is fitted over a horse’s head and it includes eyecups to limit what the horse can see. It can be helpful and make the horse concentrate during a race. Any horse wearing blinkers will have a ‘b’ next to their name on the race card.
Bottle - Betting slang used by on course bookmakers for the price of 2/1.
Burlington Bertie - Betting slang for the odds of 100/30.
Carpet - A bookmaking betting slang name for the odds of 3/1. A double carpet is used to describe the odds of 33/1.
Classic - The five most prestigious races in the UK Flat season are called the ‘Classics’. These consist of the 1000 Guineas, 2000 Guineas, Epsom Derby, Epsom Oaks and the St Leger.
Conditional Jockey - A Conditional Jockey can claim a weight allowance of 7lbs until they have 20 wins, 5lbs until 40 wins and 3lbs until 75 wins (Conditional Jockeys with fewer than 5 wins can also claim an extra 3lbs when riding for their own stable).
Cheek Pieces - Two pieces of material, usually sheepskin that is attached to the bridle. They obscure the rear vision and help the horse to concentrate.
Colours - Name given to the silks worn by the Jockey’s.
Draw - All horse races on the flat are started by starting stalls. The position in the stalls is determined by a random draw and in some cases can have an effect on the outcome of the race. A well-drawn horse can have a big advantage.
Dam - The mother of a horse.
Drifter - A price that goes out or gets bigger is often referred to as ‘drifting in the market’. This usually means the horse in question has very little or no support in the market.
Dead-Heat - A tie between two or more horses for a particular finishing position. If two horses dead heat for first place the stakes of the backers are split into two parts.
Decimal Odds - All Tote bets and Exchange prices are shown as a decimal instead of fractional odds. A fractional price of 5/1 would be shown as 6.0 in decimal terms therefore representing the potential return for the bet.
Exchange Betting - An online betting exchange is where a customer places a bet and it is taken by another customer with an opposing view. You can place Back or Lay bets.
Favourite - The ‘favourite’ is the runner with the shortest odds in the race and thus the most likely to win according to the bookmakers.
Filly - A young female horse that is four years old or younger. Once she reaches five she is called a mare.
First String - This is a term used when a trainer or an owner has more than one horse in a particular event. The ‘first string’ will normally have the best jockey on board and if it is owned by the same person will carry the owner’s first colours (silks).
Form - The record of a horse’s past performances are shown on the race card and this is called the ‘form’. The last six races are usually published to the left of the horse’s name.
Furlong - All horse races are run over different distances that are made up of furlongs. Anything from 5 furlongs to 4 miles can be used as a distance. One furlong is the same as 220 yards in distance.
Flat Racing - The flat racing turf season is from late March until early November. The season has five Classic races, which includes the Epsom Derby, the most prestigious flat race in the world of racing. During the season big festivals are held at Royal Ascot, Glorious Goodwood and York.
Fibresand - The artificial surface that is currently used at Southwell racecourse for All Weather fixtures.
Going - The term used to describe the ground conditions at racecourses. The ‘going’ can range from Firm to Heavy and is determined by the Clerk of the course prior to the meeting taking place.
Green - A word often used to describe a young immature horse that is not fully concentrating during a race due to the lack of experience.
Gelding - A male horse that has been castrated. Often improves a horse and calms them down.
Handicap - A type of race where each horse is given a rating by the handicapper. This rating is represented by the weight it has to carry during a race and theoretically all horses should have an equal chance of winning.
Handicapper - The BHA official who decides what rating a horse has achieved. The handicap ratings are updated each week and are published every Tuesday morning.
Hood - Similar to blinkers but without the eyecups, helps the horse to settle better and concentrate on going forward.
Hand - The unit of measurement used to calculate a horses shoulder height. A hand is equal to 4 inches.
In-Running Betting - Where punters can bet on the different outcomes of an event whilst the contest is still going on. Exchange bookmakers specialise in this practise for every horse race.
IBAS - The Independent Betting Adjudication Service acts as an impartial party on disputes between bookmakers and their customers. IBAS rulings are binding with all parties.
Jolly - An endearing term for the favourite and most fancied horse in a race.
Kick Back - A term to describe what happens to horses especially when racing on all-weather surfaces. The surface is dislodged and sand is kicked back into the faces of the horses behind.
Liability - The total amount of money at risk in any particular bet.
Longshot - A horse that has little chance of winning according to the betting market and its odds.
Levy - The surcharge collected from bookmakers, which goes back into racing and contributes towards prize money and other things such as the advancement of veterinary science.
Length - The unit of measurement used to calculate the distance between each horse at the end of a race. A length is the distance from a horse’s head to its tail.
Maiden - A horse that is yet to win any race. Some races are called ‘Maidens’ and these are for any horses that have never won a race before.
Monkey - A betting slang term for £500.
Mare - A female horse that has reached the age of five years old.
Nap Bet - This is used when referring to the most fancied selection of the day by racing tipsters.
National Hunt - A term used for jump racing which include races over hurdles and fences. Jump racing takes place all year round and the championship races take place at Cheltenham every March.
Nursery Race - A handicap race for two year olds during the flat season.
Novice Race - An event for horses that had not won a race at the beginning of that current season.
Names - All horses have to be registered with Weatherbys, which is the administrative arm of the racing industry. Names can be up to 18 characters long including spaces and be totally original.
Nose - The smallest official winning distance in a horse race.
Odds - A figure displayed as a fraction or a decimal that reflects the chance of a horse winning a race. The odds of all runners in a contest makes up the Betting Market.
Objection - When a jockey complains about the actions of another rider, which took place in the race. The stewards may change a result due to an objection.
Out Of The Handicap - When a horse has to carry overweight due to the official rating falling short of the minimum required it is said to be running ‘out of the handicap’.
Outsider - A horse that has little chance of winning according to its odds.
Official Rating - This is the figure awarded by the handicapper according the horses ability and determines which races he can enter and how much weight is to be carried.
Penalty - Extra weight is given to certain horses and this is called a ‘penalty’. Usually added when a horse runs before the handicapper has chance to reassess the official rating.
Photo-Finish - A photo is called when the finish of a race is too close to call with the naked eye.
Pony - Betting slang for £25
Place - A term used when a horse fills one of the places in a race. The amount of places is determined by how many horse started the race.
Polytrack - The type of artificial surface used at Lingfield, Chelmsford, Kempton and Dundalk.
Rule 4 - This is a deduction made to all winning bets if a horse has been withdrawn from a race.
Stewards Enquiry - If any incidents take place during a race there will be an official hearing by the Stewards, this is called a Stewards Enquiry.
Starting Price (SP) - This is the final price or odds of the horse. Unless a punter took an early price the SP will determine the payout to winning bets.
Sire - The father of a horse.
Stallion - A male horse that has not been castrated and acceptable for breeding purposes.
Springer - The term used for a horse who’s odds have shortened dramatically.
Tic-Tac - The sign language used by bookmakers to communicate with each other. Hand signals that represent odds are exchanged with each other, usually to signify a change in price.
Tissue - The ‘tissue’ price is an early betting market prediction, before the official prices are available.
Tote - An official body that offers ‘Pool’ betting. A winning dividend is calculated from a pool of bets received minus a deduction to cover the Tote’s costs. They run the popular Jackpot and Placepot bets.
Tongue Tie - A piece of material tied around the tongue and lower jaw. This stops a horse swallowing its tongue and helps it breathe clearly.
Tapeta - The type of artificial surface used at Newcastle, Meydan and Wolverhampton.
Under Starters Orders - This is when all of the horses are at the start and are waiting for either the stalls to open in flat racing or the starter to drop his flag in jumps racing.
Unfancied - A term used to describe a horse that is unlikely to win.
Up In The Van - Often heard by a race commentator when describing a horse being ridden prominently.
Visor - A visor is very similar to a pair of blinkers except the eyecups have a slit in them to allow limited vision to the sides and rear.
Walkover - A race where only one runner is declared. The horse has to trot in front of the stands and pass the winning post to collect the prize.
Weighed In - The official result of any race can only be given once all of the jockeys have weighed in after the race.
Weight For Age - Often abbreviated to WFA, this is where in certain non-handicap races they include weight allowances for younger horses.
Yearling - A horse that is one year old.