Horse racing captures the public’s imagination like no other sport.
Race tracks come alive in the spring as all the major metropolitan courses host huge group races, drawing gallopers from all around the globe.
If you are new to horse racing the vernacular can be tricky, but by using our glossary in no time you will be able to consume horse consume horse racing news and converse with the most seasoned of punters.
Betting and racing glossary
Acceptor: Owners/trainers are required to pay a fee in order for their horse to be eligible for a race. The payment of the fee indicates the horse will be participating.
Added Weight: Weight above and beyond the race steward assigned weight. This can happen when a jockey is carrying a few extra kilograms, but the connections feel that the jockey’s skills outweigh the added weight.
All In: A wager placed early after a race has opened for betting. An all in bet is placed on futures markets and it means you get the best possible odds, but you risk losing your cash if the horse is scratched.
All Up: A bet type where winnings are carried over to subsequent races.
Apprentice: A young jockey, usually under 21 years of age who has not yet earned his/her senior license.
Apprentice Allowance: Weight reduction given to apprentice jockeys. Can be up to 4kg which assists the junior jockeys in their quest against the more established riders.
Approximates: Odds can fluctuate up until close to the jump of a race. Approximates are also shown after a race, with the final price not displayed until correct weight is given.
Back: To bet on a horse in a race in any way, shape or form.
Backed In: Term used when a significant amount of money has come in for a horse, causing its odds to tumble in.
Backed Off the Map: A horse that has had so much money come in for it that its odds shorten to a small dividend.
Backed Up/On the Back Up: A horse that is racing on a short turnaround, typically within a week.
Banker: A term used by punters to describe a horse that they believe is certain to win.
Barrier Draw: A draw that is held days in advance of the race to determine which gate each horse will start from.
Big Noter: A punter who loves to self-promote and remind everyone when they have backed a winner.
Black Book: A service utilised by Sportsbet.com.au and others that will alert you when a particular runner you have identified is racing again.
Blinkers: A piece of headwear applied to a horse as to limit its peripheral vision so as not to be distracted by the other runners beside it.
Bolter: A winning horse that was unexpected to win and therefore ‘bolted in’ at big odds. Prince of Penzance in the 2015 Melbourne Cup was considered a bolter at triple figure odds.
Bookmaker or Bookie: A person or company that takes bets from punters.
Box: A term that means to group multiple possibilities together. A ‘boxed trifecta’ for instance could place four runners in a race together, and the punter would get a dividend if any of the four runners finish first, second and third in any order.
Boxed In: A term used when a horse is trapped in the running and has no place to go.
Box Seat: Position of a horse during a race where that horse is running right behind the leaders and one horse out from the rail. The perfect place to map the speed of the race.
Cat/Camel/Donkey: A poor performing horse.
Card: Scheduled races at a meeting. Typically referred to as the ‘race card’.
Check or Checked: A term used when a horse’s run is impeded, causing it to lose momentum.
Coat Tugger: A person you want to avoid. A punter who offers you a tip, but will be looking for a share of the winnings if the bet is successful.
Colours: Racing silks worn by the horse and its jockey.
Colt: An intact male horse of less than three years of age.
Connections: Usually a term reserved for the owner(s) of the horse, but can be used for anyone associated with the runner.
Correct Weight: Winners and Placers must be weighed at the conclusion of a race to make sure that they ran at the weight that was set. Required before bookmakers and tote will settle bets.
Course Specialist: A horse that has a favourable record at a particular track.
Daily Double: Two nominated races that offer a dividend greater than that which would be received were a punter to pick the winners of those races individually.
Daily Treble: Same as Daily Double, only this time three races are involved.
Dam: Mother of a horse.
Dead: A track condition term indicating a soft track, which is one grade below good.
Derby: A stakes race that is restricted to horses aged three years.
Dividend: Amount paid for winning or placed horses per dollar wagered.
Drift: A term used for a horse that sees its odds increase prior to the race. A horse going from $2 out to $5 is said to be ‘on the drift’.
Duffer: A horse that performers in certain track conditions.
Each Way: Betting on a horse to either win or place. Typically the bet value is the same, meaning if you place an each way bet for $2 you wager $1 for the horse to win and $1 for it to place.
Emu: A person who will retrieve discarded tickets, especially after a protest regarding the outcome of a race has been lodged, since many punters will throw a ticket away after a race if they think the outcome is final. Thankfully people using an online bookmaker do not have to worry about the emu and hopefully it will become extinct.
Even Money: Odds offering the same dividend as the amount invested.
Exacta: Bet type where the finishers must run 1st and 2nd in the exact punter selected order in order to be a winner, hence the name.
Exotics: A bet type that is anything other than a Win or Place. Exotics include the Quinella, Exacta, Trifecta or Quaddie.
False Favourite: A horse favoured to win a race even though it does not justify the tag.
Farrier: A name given to the experts on course who fit the horse shoes.
Fast: Track condition that is very hard.
Favourite: Horse expected to win a race and has the shortest odds.
Fav backer: A term reserved for punters who only invest their money on the favourites in any particular race. A degrading term that suggests the punter has little knowledge.
Feature Race: The race with the highest status on the card. The feature race is sometimes named after the day (ie. Caulfield Cup day, Melbourne Cup day) and is the main race. Look at our feature race calendar.
Filly: Female horse of less than three years age.
First Up: First race of a season or campaign for a galloper.
Fixed Odds: Bet type where once the punt is on, the dividend is fixed, meaning fluctuations are irrelevant. However, if horses are withdrawn from the race deductions are made from your final dividend.
Flat Race: A term used for a race which has no jumps, hurdles or obstacles in the race.
Fluctuation: Odds move up and down as betting on an event intensifies or dissipates. Many bookmakers offer a betting incentive known as Top Fluc or Top Tote, which means you get the best of all three plus the starting price.
Form: A guide that shows a horse’s past performances over distance and conditions.
Fresh: A horse that is returning after having an extended spell away from racing.
Front Runner: A horse that prefers to lead and kick on in front of the other horses in the field.
Furlong: Traditional measure of distance in a race prior to the metric system. It is equal to 1/8th of a mile, about 200 metres. Although it is an antiquated system the term Furlong is still used in racing today.
Gelding: Male horses that have been castrated to help them focus on racing exclusively.
Good: Ideal condition for a course. Fast but not punishing.
Group Race: Highest status for a race, in descending order of significance: Group 1, Group 2, Group 3, Listed.
Handicap: Weight assigned to a horse in order to level the playing field. Horses who are not as well known or have not performed well in the past will get a much lighter weight while a gun horse will carry a much heavier load.
Handicapper: The person responsible for assigning weights.
Head: A measurement of distance on a final margin. Denotes the length of the horse’s head.
Heavy Track: Typically a heavier track comes about from inclement weather. Very wet and slow racing conditions.
Hoop: Synonym for jockey.
In the Money: A horse that finishes in first, second or third.
In the Red: odds shorter than even money.
IWAC or In With a Chance: A term used by bookies to denote an outsider or a horse not the betting frame that they believe has the potential to win the race.
Judge: Race official who declares the final finishing order of a race.
Juvenile: A horse two years of age.
Knocked Up: A term used when a horse runs out of gas and stops running at an optimal speed.
Knuckled: Describes a horse that stumbles and almost crashes.
Late Mail: Information just prior to the jump concerning scratches, jockey changes and track conditions, or a final fluctuation in the odds.
Late Scratching: A term used for a horse that is scratched on the day of the race, typically once the race has already begun.
Lay: A wager on something not to happen. A lay bet can be put on a horse not to win, or not to place in a race.
Length: The margin of victory or defeat in a race. Refers to the entire length of the course.
Lengthen: When a horse begins to hit full stride and goes past its opposition.
Listed Race: Next classification in race quality after Group 1, 2 and 3.
Maiden: A horse that has never won a race. Also refers to a race where all the entrants are yet to win a race.
Mare: Female horse four years of age and older.
Market: The list of horses competing in a race, along with their odds.
Middle Distance: A race that is longer than a sprint, but shorter than a staying race, generally considered as all races of at least 1,600 metres and not over 2,000 metres.
Mounting Yard: The area in which horses are paraded around so punters can have a look at the condition the horses are in. Also where the jockeys climb aboard.
Mudlark: A horse that performs above expectations on wet and heavy tracks, or in the rain.
Mug Punter: A term reserved for someone who has no idea what they are doing. Also someone who fails to take the advice of Horsebetting.com.au
NAP bet: A term used by tipsters to specify their best bet of the day.
NB or Next Best: The term used by a tipster to announce their next best bet, after their NAP.
Near-Side: The left-hand side of the horse that is used by the jockey for mounting and dismounting. The right-hand side is called the Off-side.
Nose: Smallest margin of victory or defeat. Sometimes used interchangeably with “short half head.” Also can be used as “nosed out”.
Oaks: Many races are called by Oaks combined with some descriptive term indicating the place or time a race is held that is run under stakes conditions for three-year-old fillies.
Odds: Prices offered by the bookie on a runner for a race.
Odds-On: Odds are shorter than Even Money.
On The Bob: When two horses are neck and neck at the post and a runner lunges at the right time to win. Term used as “(runner) won on the bob”.
Pacifier: A device worn on the head by horses that protects the eyes and also helps high-spirited thoroughbreds to calm down.
Paddock: Place at the race course where horses are saddled prior to a race.
Parlay: A cumulative bet where winnings are carried forward to the next race or some other race. Requires the punter to pick two or more runners to win or place. Also referred to as a ‘multi’.
Penalty: Additional weight imposed on a horse’s handicap weight.
Penetrometer: The device used to get track readings.
Photo Finish: When a race is so tight that a winner cannot be determined from the real-time footage alone, the result will go to a photo finish, which is a print of the finish line as the horses cross.
Place: A place bet is an investment on a horse to finish in the top three in a field of eight or more horses. In a field of 7 or fewer runners, a horse must finish second in order to place.
Price: Odds attached to a horse.
Protest: The process in which a jockey, trainer or owner will argue the outcome of a race, claiming interference by another horse. If the protest is upheld, the finishing order is reversed, placing the guilty horse directly behind the horse that was interfered with. If the protest is dismissed, the original result is declared legitimate. Any time a horse is impeded or a jockey is negligent with his or her riding, a protest is to be expected.
Punt: A bet.
Punter: A person placing a bet.
Quadrella: A bet type in which the winner of four designated races must be selected. Punters can place more than one runner for each particular race but the dividend is diminished.
Quinella: A bet type where the first two finishers must be selected in either order of finish.
Racing Plates: Lightweight horseshoes applied by a farrier on race day that need only last for the race.
Restricted: Rules for specific races that specify which horses are eligible to compete. Usually by age or gender.
Return: The dividend for a successful wager.
Roughie: A horse carrying long odds that has nothing more than a “rough” chance of getting up.
Scratching: A horse is taken out of a race. Usually caused by a health issue or a concern for the scratched horse’s welfare. Can cause some serious controversy, as well as chaos affecting the odds of a race.
Shorten: Odds on a horse coming right in, usually as a result of heavy backing.
Second Up: A horse’s second run that follows the horse’s First Up run that is followed by a spell of 90 days or more.
Sire: Father of a horse.
Slow: Track condition that is between good and heavy.
SP or Starting Price: The price that a horse is at when a race begins.
Spell: Resting a horse to prepare it for an upcoming season or campaign. Must be longer than 90 days to be considered a spell.
Sportsbook: A person or website that accepts bets.
Sprint: Races of less than 1600 metres.
Stake: The amount of money a punter wagers on a horse.
Stallion: A male horse used for breeding purposes. A successful runner is retired to stud and earns stud fees.
Stayer: A horse that does its best work of over 2,000 metres.
Stewards: Race officials charged with ensuring fair competition.
Strapper: A groom or a person that takes care of a horse, feeding, grooming, training rides and getting ready for the race.
Stick: Jockey’s whip.
Stinker: A horse that puts up a bad effort in a race.
Stretch: Final straightaway of a race course.
Stud: Male horse used for breeding purposes, or a farm where this activity is conducted.
Swooper: Horse that likes to run from the back, coming around the outside of the field to record a victory in the shadows of the post.
Thoroughbred: A horse bred specifically for flat track racing.
Top Weight: The horse that carries the most weight in a Weight-for-Age race. Wears number 1 on its saddle cloth.
Track Conditions: Fast, Good, Dead, Slow, Heavy. Track conditions can have a significant impact on the outcome of a race and the odds of the horses competing.
Treble: An exotic bet type involving three nominated races.
Trifecta: Exotic bet type requiring the punter to pick the first three runners in a race in the exact order of finish. A boxed trifecta bet adds flexibility to allow punters to pick runners in no particular order.
Under Wraps: A horse is held back from running completely freely.
Under Double Wraps: A horse wins easily without much exertion.
Wager: Bet or Punt.
Weigh In/Weigh Out: Process used to make certain that the jockey weight before and after a race is the same. Jockeys often carry lead bags to bring them up to the weight assigned to their horse.
Weight For Age: Type of race where a horse is assigned a weight according to its age and past performance. Designed to make it possible for horses of different abilities to compete on a level playing field.
Well-Held: A runner that wins easily without exerting a lot of effort is said to have been well-held.
Winkers: Sheepskin device that limits a horse’s peripheral vision, but not so much as blinkers.
Write Your Own Ticket: A term used on a horse that is so unlikely win the bookmaker could basically let the punter ‘write their own ticket’.