If you are having a crack at the Melbourne Cup for the first time you may be left in the dark if you try and mix it with the seasoned punters down at your local.
The Melbourne Cup looms as your best opportunity to brush up on your lingo and have the slang, relevant terms and expert language surrounding the Sport of Kings.
If you are a first-time punter we suggest reading our newbie’s guide to the Melbourne Cup, but if you are wondering what the hell the old-boys are saying down at the pub during the race, you’ve come to the right place.
Glossary of terms you will hear during the Melbourne Cup
Age of Horse: This is important when it comes to races. Certain races have an age cutoff for races, others are weight-for-age, which means a horse is allotted a race due to its age, while other events like the Melbourne Cup have a sweet spot when it comes to which horses fare the best.
All-in: Refers a futures bet. If you have placed an all-in bet and your horse does not take part in the race, it is counted as a loss. This is different to a regular win but which will see your money returned if the horse is withdrawn.
Bailed Up: A horse which has no clear running room and is awaiting room to push forward.
Barriers: Where the horses jump from. Also known as the ‘gates’ and the ‘stalls’.
Blinkers: A piece of gear fitted to a horse to limit its vision, to prevent the runner from being distracted by what’s around it.
Blows: Known as “blowing out in the betting”, when a horse has the blows it has drifted out in the market to pay a higher price.
Bookmakers: A person or company licensed by the government to accept bets. If you are looking for an online bookmaker check our reviews here.
Box/Boxed: Refers to a bet type where multiple runners can finish in any order, or when a horse has no room to move in the running.
Checked: A term describing interference experienced by a horse.
Class: Describes the standard or grade of a race. The Melbourne Cup is a group one race.
Colt: A young male horse either two or three years old that has not been gelded.
Condition: Refers to the track rating. The track can rate anywhere on Melbourne Cup day from ‘Good’ – solid track – all the way through to Heavy – wet and sodden.
Correct Weight: Placings in a race are official and bets can now be paid out on the race. Correct weight means all jockeys have weighed in correctly at the end of the race to ensure each horse was carrying the correct amount of weight.
Dead Heat: Two or more horses finishing in an exact tie at the finishing post. For a dead heat the odds of a horse are divided in half to pay out each of the two winners evenly.
Dwelt: Refers to a horse that has hesitated at the start and is slowly into stride. Also known as “missing the kick”.
Eased: Describes a horse that has been restrained at the beginning of the race in order to find a better position back in the field. Can also refer to a horses odds increasing in prior to the race.
Exotic: Refers to any bet outside the regular win and place. Quinellas, exactas, trifectas and first four bets are considered exotic bets.
Farrier: A specialist in equine hoof care.
Feature Race: The most significant race of the day, usually determined by grading of the race and/or the prize money on offer. It goes without saying, the Melbourne Cup is the feature event of Melbourne Cup day.
Filly: A young female horse three years old or younger. Just three fillies in Melbourne Cup history have won the race.
First-up: A runner that is resuming after spending time away from the racing track. A spell is a two-month minimum break from the track.
Fluctuation: Odds movement of a runner as dictated by betting activity. This is classic bookmaker vernacular you will hear all throughout the TV coverage.
Form: Refers to the way the horse has been racing recently. A horse in good form will have been either close to, or winning lead up races.
Front Runner: A horse which loves to race from the front.
Furlong: A measurement scale used in European and American racing which is equivalent to approximately 200m. e.g. 3 furlongs = approx. 600m.
Head: A margin between runners that is equal to roughly the length of a horse’s head. If a horse wins by a head it is a close margin.
Hoop: Another name for a jockey.
In the money: Refers to a horse that finished inside the top three, which will generate a winning return on your bet.
Knocked Up: Describes a horse that weakens significantly in the concluding stages.
Knuckled: When a horse stumbles forward in a race, often upon jumping. It often costs the horse ground and can sometimes lead to the jockey being dislodged. This is a rarity in the Melbourne Cup given early speed is not vital over the 3200m journey.
Late Mail: A last-minute tip. Usually sourced from connections close to the horse or a bookmaker that has had a flood of money come in on a runner.
Late Scratching: A runner that is withdrawn from the race after 8am on raceday. If a late scratching is made, the betting odds are adjusted to account for that horse being removed from the market.
Lay: A lay bet is betting upon a horse not to win the race. These bets are popular in markets where one horse dominates the betting.
Length:A margin of victory, which refers horse’s length from nose to tail.
Long Shot: A runner paying big odds.
Mare: A female horse aged four years or older. One of the most famous mares to run in the Melbourne Cup was Makybe Diva, which won three Cups in a row.
Mounting yard: The area in which the horses are paraded prior to a race. The jockeys also mount their horses before taking them out onto the track, hence the name.
Mug Punter: A person who is poor at punting/betting.
Neck:Margin between horses – about the length of a horse’s neck.
Nose: The smallest official margin between horses on the line.
On The Nose: A bet type which refers to backing the horse to win outright.
Photo Finish: A result so close that it is necessary to use a finishing post camera to determine the winner.
Plunge: A sudden rush of bets for a particular horse, resulting in the odds shortening significantly.
Protest: A dispute in which a jockey or trainer challenges the outcome of a race. An upheld result means the placings are changed while a dismissed decision sees the numbers stay as they are.
Punter: A person placing a bet.
Rails: The term used to describe the fence that marks the boundary of the racetrack.
Ridden Out: Describes a horse that has been vigorously ridden to the line by its jockey without the use of the whip.
Roughie: A horse at a long price that is deemed to have less chance of success than others.
Scratched: A horse which has been removed from a race. Reasons for this can include that there is a better race option for the horse on the horizon, illness, injury, unfavourable barrier draw or at the direction of racing officials.
Second Up: A horse’s second start since returning from a spell.
Silks: The attire the jockeys wear during the race.
Spell: A horse that has had a minimum two-month (60 day) break from racing.
Stayer: A horse who performs best when it races over longer distances. This refers to all the major contenders in the Melbourne Cup.
Stewards: The racing officials responsible for enforcing the rules of racing.
Strapper: A person employed by the trainer to groom and look after the general day-to-day welfare of a horse.
Stone Motherless: Denotes the horse that finished last by a clear margin.
Swooper: A horse whose style of racing is to race near the back of the field before unleashing a fast-finishing burst towards the finish line and often down the outside of the track.
The race that stops a nation: An affectionate term given to the Melbourne Cup.
Under Double Wraps: Describes a horse which is travelling well without any urgings from its jockey.
Unders: A horse whose odds are too low in relation to its chances of winning.
Vetted: Refers to a horse that undergoes a veterinary examination at the barriers. Typically occurs when a horse is restless in the stalls and potentially injured itself.
Wager: A bet.
Well-Held: Describes a horse who has been comfortably beaten by the winner.
Write Your Own Ticket: This refers to a runner that is so unlikely to win that a bookie would give you any odds you ask. The expression is also loosely used in reference to any betting outcome that has very little likelihood of unfolding.