Horse Racing Jargon
Welcome to the Marten Julian guide to racing Jargon. This page is still being updated.
Abandoned – The term used for when a day’s racing is cancelled (normally due to our lovely British weather).
All-Weather – An all-weather racecourse can run all year round as they run on sand.
Amateur – A jockey who is not yet professional.
Ante-Post – A bet that is placed in advance of the race. Normally a good few months before the race! Our Dark Horses Jumps Guide provides Cheltenham Festival ante-post betting advice.
Apprentice – A flat jockey in training who works for a licensed trainer.
At the post – Once all horses are at the start before a race has begun they are said to be ‘at the post’.
Boxed in – This is annoying! It’s when a horse becomes blocked in a race and can’t get to where it wants to go.
Boxwalker – This is the term used for a horse who just walks round and round in his or her stable.
Black type – If a horse is black type it means it has won or been placed (see P) in a Listed race.
Blinds – Another word for the term ‘blinkers’.
Blinkers – A type of headgear worn by horses which limits vision making it easier to concentrate.
Bloodstock sales – Sale of horses at auctions.
Blowout – A short workout designed to clear the horse’s airways before a race, the workout usually takes place a day or two prior to the race.
Breeze Up – This is the name for a sale. The horses run for a short distance which means potential purchasers have some idea of what they may be interested in buying.
Bridle – a piece of equipment a horse wears on its head to help control it. Also see ‘W’
Broke down – It’s not good when this happens. This means that a horse has suffered an injury during a race and normally stops.
Chaser – A horse that runs in steeplechase races.
Cheekpieces – Two pieces of sheepskin that are attached to the bridal the horse is wearing. They are worn to help the horse stay focussed on the race as they reduce rear vision.
CheltFest – A shortcut which is handy for social media when referring to the Cheltenham Festival.
Claimer – A jockey in training over the flat – an apprentice.
Claimer (used in a different context) – A race where the horses can be ‘claimed’ after the race. By using the word claimed it means you can buy them. The horse’s weight is specified by the owner in that the lower the price the owner would like the lower the weight.
Classic – A group of races that take place in the Flat season. These are historic races and horses must be three years old.
Colours – A jacket, made out of silk, worn by the jockey to help identify and differentiate horses.
Conditional Jockey – A jockey who is under the age of 26. A conditional jockey will receive a weight allowance due to inexperience until that jockey has ridden a certain number of winners. Certain races are restricted to conditional-only jockeys and a conditional jockey is licensed to a specific trainer.
Conformation – A horse’s structure and build, the way the horse is put together.
Connections – People associated with the horse.
Dam – The mother of a horse.
Dark horse – A horse with recognised potential but has yet to reveal its full capabilities.
DHA – A bit of a joke entry here. The abbreviated term for Marten Julian’s Dark Horses Annual.
Drifter – When odds for a certain horse get bigger just before a race due to lack of support in the market. Commonly referred to as being “on the drift”.
Enquiry (Steward’s Enquiry) – A review of a race to check for a possible violation of the rules made by the Stewards. If the result of the race could be affected in any way due to the enquiry then an announcement will be made on the course.
E-W – Each way (betting terminology)
Fancied – When there is an expectation for a horse to win a race or be heavily involved in the finish of a race.
Filly – A female horse aged four or younger.
Flat Season – The Flat Season runs from mid-April to early November.
Gallop – A horse’s top gait – the speed at which they race.
Going – The current condition of the racing surface. Can range from heavy to firm.
Green – A term used to describe horses with high levels of immaturity and inexperience.
Hacked up – A term used when a horse seems to be winning easily.
Handicap – When in a race each horse is allocated a different weight to carry. The theory behind the handicap is that all the horses are then more equal therefore making the race fair.
In running – The term ‘in running’ refers to key events and goings on during the progression of the race.
In running betting – When somebody during a race decides to place a bet on the outcome of that race rather than placing the bet beforehand. This is also risky as odds can change at a rapid rate while a race is happening. Make sure you have a good internet connection!
Jocked off – Term used in the event of when one jockey who normally rides the horse or has been already been booked for a specific race is replaced by another jockey.
Jumps season – There are two racing Season and the National Hunt (A.K.A Jumps Season) runs from early November to mid-April.
Juvenile – A horse which is two years old.
Layer – Another term for a bookmaker, somebody who accepts or lays a bet.
Left-handed track – Some racecourses are known as ‘a left-handed track’ which is when horses have to run anti-clockwise.
Level weights – When all the horses participating in a race must carry the same weight. However certain allowances are sometimes made due to sex or age.
Maiden – A term used when referring to a horse which has never won a race.
Mare – A term used when referring to a female horse aged five years old or above.
Minimum trip – The shortest race distance which is allowed for a flat or jumps race. Flat races have a minimum of five furlongs and jump races have a minimum of two miles.
MJ – Marten Julian (obviously a bit of a joke entry on this page but if you ever speak to Rebecca, our Manager, she quite often forgets to call him Marten and says MJ when referring to him. It also sounds more professional than Daddy!
Non-trier – When a jockey is preventing a horse from running to its full ability. It is a serious offence and is strictly not allowed under the rules of racing. If the jockey is found guilty they can be banned from racing. In some cases, the owner and the horse can also receive punishment.
Nose – Officially the smallest distance a horse can win by in a race.
Novice – A term used when referring to a horse at the beginning of its career after it has won its first race.
Over the top – A term used to describe a horse which may be past its peak normally due to too much training/racing. If a horse is considered ‘over the top’ then it needs to rest.
Off the pace – The event in which a horse seems to be a fair distance behind the front-runners in a race.
Pacemaker – When a horse is entered in a race with a horse from the same yard with the intention it will set the pace for its stable companion.
Paddock – Each racecourse has a Paddock. This area includes the Parade ring and winner’s enclosure.
Penalty (In a handicap) – When a horse must carry additional weight due to past wins.
Placed – When a horse comes second or third in a race. Sometimes fourth depending on the number of runners in the race.
Pulled up – When a horse drops midway through a race and doesn’t finish.
Quarters – Parts of a horse which are specifically located between the flank and the tail.
Right-handed track – Some racecourses are known as ‘a right-handed track’ which is when horses have to run clockwise.
Racecard – A programme which informs people on the days racing. Examples of information that may be given include the riders and runners for each race and a schedule for the day including times for races.
Split Race – When a race is split from one into more than one. For example at the two-day declaration stage of the Ayr Gold Cup it is subdivided and horses are split between the Gold, Silver and Bronze Cups.
Did you know?
All thoroughbreds have an official birthday of January the first!!
Won on the bridle – When the horse has won the race with ease without being challenged by competitors.