Beginners Guide

A guide to horseracing and how to bet

Jargon Buster

Don’t be put off by the racing jargon, use our guide as a way to get around some terms you may hear around the course.

Card – Short for racecard. This is your race programme with the runners and riders.
Clerk of the Course – Has British Horseracing Authority accreditation and inspects and approves the track for racing.
Colours (Silks) – The colours worn by the jockey in a race.
Dead Heat – When two horses are given equal places in a race because the judge cannot decide which was in front.
Distance – When a racehorse wins by 30 lengths or more.
The Field – Number of runners in one particular race.
Finishing Straight – The last part of the course which runs in front of the grandstand and includes the finishing post.
Handicap – A race in which weights are to be carried by each horse according to recent or past racing performance.
Form – A record of a racehorse’s previous performance.
Furlong – An eighth of a mile, 220 yards or 201 metres.
Going – A term used to describe the condition of the ground, ranging from hard through to heavy. These include: Hard, Firm, Good to Firm, Good, Good to Soft, Soft, Heavy.
Listed Race – A high class competitive race.
Maiden – A race for horses that have not yet won a race.
Non-runner – When a horse is no longer running in the race.
Novice Races – Flat races for racehorses aged two or three that have not won more than two races.
Paddock / Parade Ring – The horses parade here before they are mounted to race. A good place to check out your fancy to see if it’s looking good for a win!
Photo Finish – When the judge requires a photograph to decide the winner.
Pull Up – When a jockey slows a horse that has no chance of winning the race due to either tiring or injury.
Selling Race (Seller) – It is a race in which the winner is auctioned off immediately afterwards to the highest bidder.
Sprint – Any race under a mile.
Stakes – Prize money offered in a race.
Starting Stalls – Used to make sure the horses in flat races all have a fair start. Positions are “drawn” before the race and can give an advantage depending on the racecourse and length of the race.
Stewards – Officials responsible for enforcing the British Horseracing Authority’s Orders & Rules of Racing.
Under Orders – When the racehorses are called into line before the start of a race. Once racehorses have come ‘under orders’ they are judged to have competed in the race and no bets will be refunded.
Weigh in/weigh out – Weighing of jockey before and after a race to ensure that the correct weight has been carried. At the end of the race when ‘weighed in’ has been announced this means the result is official and all bets can be paid out.
Winners Enclosure – Where the winning horse and placed horses will go after the race and the winning owners and trainers have their presentations.
Unplaced – A horse that finishes outside the main placings, which is generally the first three home, depending on the size of the field.
Walkover – ‘A one horse race’ the one contestant must turn up to the course and walk over the line to claim the prize money.
Weights – Fixed weights to be carried by horses in a race according to ability, age, distance, sex, and time of year. This weight includes the jockey and equipment, saddle and weight cloth.
Weight Cloth – Leather cloth with pockets that hold flat pieces of lead. They are removable and interchangeable. The weight cloth is carried under the jockey’s saddle and is to ensure that they ride at the correct weight in a race.

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