• Racing Dictionary A-Z

    Racing terms and terminology are nothing to be wary of. Don't worry if you don't know a bit from bridle, a novice from a maiden, our racing A-Z will have you speaking like a seasoned racegoer in no time. Once you have brushed up, be sure to take our racing words quiz to test your progress.

     A bet involving more than one horse with the winnings from each selection going onto the next.

    An artificial surface track that facilitates racing throughout the year. Dundalk is the only such course in Ireland.

    This refers to backing a horse in a specific period before a race to get a better price. There is a risk though as the horse might not run, in which case you will lose your stake.

    A young Flat jockey who can claim a weight allowance of up to 10lbs depending on his/her age and the number of winners ridden.

    This is a merit-based system put in place due to safety limits on the number of horses allowed run in each race. It is necessary for a
    ballot to take place if the number of horses declared to run exceeds the limit.

    A certainty, as in ‘you can take your money to the bank’. They certainly can’t always be relied upon to oblige so tread warily!

    A popular competition held during most racing festivals. A bit of fun for everyone, they are often judged by celebrity figures and
    the prizes tend to be well worth winning.

    An award for the horse judged to have been best presented in the paddock. 

    A two-piece device that fits into the horse’s mouth and is attached to the reins. It allows the jockey to control and steer the
    horse. There are many different types and shapes of bit but they are usually made of plastic, rubber or steel.

    A horse has black-type if it wins or has been placed in a Listed race. A horse’s breeding value increases if it gets black-type.

    A piece of equipment that goes over the horse’s head to restrict its vision and help it concentrate in a race. Some horses lose focus and start looking around them. This device ensures tunnel vision.

    When a jockey eases a horse down for a short distance during a race to allow it to fill its lungs for a final effort.

    The person, stud farm or organisation that bred the horse (owned it when it was born and were responsible for the mating selection).

    An auction usually for two-year-olds where the horse for sale runs for a short distance to allow prospective buyers to assess them.

    The piece of equipment that is fitted onto the horse’s head that includes the bit and reins. There are many different types of bridle, but they are usually made of leather on nylon.

     Sheepskin bands on each side of the bridle. Like blinkers, they are designed to keep a horse focused on the task at hand.

    The official who makes sure the course is safe and fit for racing on the day. Determines the official going ( the official title for the ground conditions).

    Ensures that the jockey has the correct weight, before and after a race. If the clerk feels there is a discrepancy, he/she will lodge
    an objection with the stewards, who will hold an enquiry.

    The collective term for the 1000 Guineas, 2000 Guineas, Oaks, Derby and St Leger. These races are Group 1 races and are only open to three-year-olds, with the 1000 Guineas and Oaks confined to fillies.

    A male horse aged four or younger.

    The National Hunt equivalent of an apprentice, the conditional can claim a weight allowance of 10lbs, which is reduced as he/she rides more winners or gets older.

    The confirmation that the trainer intends to run the horse to start in a race at the final declarations stage.

    When a horse’s price gets bigger due to a lack of support, it is said to be drifting or on the drift.

    A horse’s mother.

    To back a horse each-way means to back the horse to win and be placed. Thus, a €2 bet each-way represents two bets and will cost €4. If the horse wins you collect both the win and place dividends.

     A female horse aged four or younger.

    Where a trainer and/or owner has more than one runner in a race, the horse considered to be the stable’s best chance is referred to as the first string. 

     A forecast is a bet where the aim is to pick the first and second. A straight forecast means that you must select them in the correct order. A dual forecast or reverse forecast means that they can come in any order but doubles your stake as it represents two selections.

     There are eight furlongs in a mile. One furlong equals 220 yards or 200 metres.

    Gallop is a top gait for a horse the speed they race whereas Gallops Training ground where horses are exercised.

     A male horse that has been neutered. Most male horses that compete in National Hunt racing are gelded. Most male horses in Flat racing are not, as they are bound for careers in the breeding barn.

    A piece of strong elastic that is fastened under the horse’s chest to keep the saddle in place. If it comes loose, it will cause the saddle to slip.

     Refers to whether the ground is hard or soft. Different horses react to different ground. If you’re looking at a horse’s movement, a high-knee action would indicate a liking for soft ground, while a horse with a lower, gliding action would generally prefer it good or better. A horse’s preference is a key factor to consider when having a bet.

    These races are upper tier of the racing structure, with Group/Grade 1 the most important and prestigious t, followed by Group/Grade 2 and Group/Grade 3. Group races are run on the Flat; Graded races are run over jumps. 

    A term used to describe a horse that is very inexperienced and will learn from its first run.

     Someone employed by a trainer to take care of the horses. Each horse has its own groom with whom it is familiar and who accompanies it to the races.

    The unit by which horses are measured. One hand is equal to four inches.  Average racehorse height is 15.3, which is 63”.

     A race in which the weights are calculated by an official assessor called a handicapper. A handicapper’s dream would be for every horse to cross the finishing line level, as the job is the give the horse with the best form the top weight and rate everything else in
    accordance with that to give them an equal chance. Good form leads to an increase in weight (a penalty) and therefore, it is more difficult for a horse that has won a handicap to back that up as it must do so with a bigger handicap.

    The organisation responsible for the funding, administration and promotion of racing in Ireland.

    A race over obstacles in a jumps race. Hurdles are smaller than a chase fence. 

  • JUDGE: 
    The official who decides the winner and placed horses in a race and also the winning distance.

    Weights carried in the saddle to make up the difference between a jockey’s weight and that assigned to the horse he/ she is riding.

     The measurement of a margin of victory. A length refers to the approximate length of a horse, which is around eight feet. A half-length is the lowest length measurement, with the smaller margins being a neck, head, short-head and nose Anything more than 20 lengths is referred to as ‘a distance’.

    A race below Group or Grade status but above a handicap or conditions race.

    A horse that has not won a race.

    A female horse aged five or more.

     A strap attached onto the bridle around the horse’s nose to help keep its mouth closed. A sheepskin cover is often attached to help keep a horse focused straight ahead.

     A handicap for two-year-old horses.

    A betting term relating to a horse’s price. If you hear ‘six-to-four-on’, this means that if you place €6 on your selection and it wins, your profit will be €4. It is written as 4/6. ‘Six-to-four’ can also be known as ‘six-to-four against’ and means you if you place €4 on your selection and it comes up trumps, you will collect €6. It is written as 6/4.

    A horse that is not travelling well and is being pushed along by a jockey to keep up with the pace is said to be off the bridle or off the bit. Not a good sign before the business end of a race.

    A horse travelling well and on the pace without any effort or need for its jockey to push it. It is generally seen as a positive sign entering the closing stages but can be deceptive. Some horses, known as bridle horses, travel well but do not find any extra speed if called upon to battle.

    When a verdict is too close for a judge to call. A photo is taken automatically as the horses pass the winning post and in such an instance, is referred to, to determine the result.

    Formerly known as amateur jockeys, they are non-professional jockeys who ride mostly in point-to-points or bumpers. Their name is prefixed by Mr, Ms or Mrs and they can claim a weight allowance of up to 7lbs depending on the number of winners they have ridden.

    What the jockey uses to control and steer the horse during a race. The reins are the link between the jockey’s hands and the horse’s mouth as they are connected to the bit. Usually made of leather or nylon and are covered in a non-slip rubber.

    A horse’s father.

     When a horse loses a shoe it is said that it has spread a plate.

     They ensure that each horse gets a fair chance at the start. Only used on the Flat as the races are shorter. Some horses are more adept at breaking well from the stalls than others. The stalls are numbered from right to left with the numbers allocated by a random draw.

    The official who is race. It is his/her job to ensure that the start is fair and that no horse gets an unfair advantage.

    A jumps race over fences, open ditches and water jumps, run over distances from two miles up to four and a half miles.

    They attempt to ensure that the rules of racing are adhered to. On a race day, there will be a stipendiary steward, who is a full-time, paid official. He will be joined by a panel of voluntary stewards who are appointed by the Turf Club.

    An investigation by the stewards if they suspect that the rules of racing have been broken either prior to, during or after a race.

    The attachments at each side of the saddle into which the jockey’s feet are placed. Made of steel or lighter aluminium mix.

    The name given to various pieces of equipment that are used on a horse.

    A piece of cloth or elastic tied on the horse’s tongue to keep it in place during a race. Generally used on a horse
    with breathing difficulties, to prevent the tongue interfering with the soft palate.

     A person employed by the jockeys to assist them in their preparations for each race. The valet ensures that all the equipment needed is clean and ready for the next race.

     A similar device to blinkers but less restrictive.

    When a jockey is weighed to make sure that a horse is carrying the required burden. A jockey is weighed out before a race and weighs in afterwards.

    This is the official confirmation that the stewards are happy that the winner has broken no rules.

    A trainer’s premises from where racehorses are trained.

    A horse that has been born on any date in the previous year.

  • This is the odds a betting operator is offering on a particular horse, i.e. 4/1
    In theory, the horse that starts a race with the shortest odds has the best chance of winning and is the "favourite". If two horses share the shortest odds, they are described as "joint-favourites". If three or more horses share the shortest odds, they are described as "co-favourites"
    A fixed-odds bet is one where you get the odds advertised by the betting operator at the time you placed the bet
    This stands for Starting Price and is the official odds a horse started the race with. You can ask to place an SP bet with a bookmaker, but not the Tote. Some people do this if they believe the horse they wish to bet on will start at a bigger price than is being advertised at the time.
    When a horse is a strong favourite to win their price may be odds-on. This means you will make a profit of less than €1 for every €1 you bet. If the betting operator displays fractional prices, a horse that is odds-on will have a price where the larger number is on the bottom of the fraction, i.e. 1/2.
    This means a horse is expected to have a low chance of winning the race, but if they do you will receive many multiples of your stake back as winnings if you have bet on it. For example, a horse priced at odds of 50/1 would be described as having long odds.
    This means a horse is expected to have a high chance of winning the race, but if they do you will make a relatively small profit on your stake if you have bet on it. For example, a horse priced at odds of 6/4 would be described as having short odds.

    A horse is deemed to be ‘withdrawn’ when it becomes a non-runner for any reason during the course of a race meeting. Often a horse will be withdrawn due to deteriorating ground conditions on a wet day or if it refuses to enter the stalls. If a horse is withdrawn from a race for which a betting market has been formed, bookmakers may deduct an amount from winning bets placed before the time of withdrawal. The amount deducted is based on the price of the horse at the time of withdrawal.

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