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Race Day Jargon

Race Day Jargon

April 7, 2017 11:37 pm0 comments

If you’ve ever considered taking a day at the races but are concerned you don’t know any of the lingo don’t worry – we’re here to help. We’ve compiled some of the more prominent words from the horse racing scene and given a small description to help you out:


For most major races you can put your bet on well in advance of race day. For the Grand National you can put a bet down a year before the race is due to kick-off. The price you get with an Antepost bet could well be much bigger than waiting until closer to the day.

Board prices

The generally available odds displayed on the boards of on-course bookmakers. It is from these that the starting price (SP) is derived. “Taking board price” means taking the last price shown against your selection at the time you strike the bet.

Betting Ring

The main area within a race course where the bookmakers are situated.


Silks are worn by jockey to identify a horse. A horse runs in its owner’s colours which are registered with the governing body, Weatherbys. The colours worn by each jockey are shown on race cards.


The margin by which a horse has won or has been beaten OR in Jump racing, if a horse is beaten/wins by a long way it’s said to have been won by a distance.


220 yards (an eighth of a mile).

These are the training grounds where horses are exercised. Many trainers have private gallops of their own.


A male horse that has been castrated. Nearly all of the male horses that compete over the jumps have been gelded, and a Flat horse could be gelded.


A race where each horse is allotted a different weight to carry, according to the official handicap ratings determined by the BHA Handicappers. The theory is that all horses run on a fair and equal basis – the ‘perfect’ handicap being one where all the runners finish in a dead-heat.


To take a bet on: a bookmaker’s offer quoting the price at which he wishes to trade. ‘I’ll lay 6-4 this favourite.’ Betting on a horse to lose

Non Runner

A horse that was originally meant to run but for whatever reason has been withdrawn from the race.


Horse names have to be registered with Weatherbys, racing’s administrative body, and are subject to approval. Names cannot be longer than 18 characters (including spaces) and must not be the same, in spelling or pronunciation, as a name already registered. In addition, there is a list of ‘protected’ horse names that cannot be used – these include past winners of big races such as the Grand National and the Classics on the Flat.


A horse’s ability is measured and it is then given a rating on a scale starting at zero and going into three figures. Flat Jump racing use different scales. The highest-rated Flat horse is usually in the 130s and the top-rated jumper in the 180s.

Starting price

This can be abbreviated to SP. The starting prices are the final odds at the time the race starts and are used to determine the pay out to winning punters if it was placed against the starting price.

The “Tote”

Introduced in Britain in 1929 to offer pool betting on racecourses. All the stakes on a particular bet are pooled, before a deduction is made to cover the Tote’s costs and contribution to racing. The remainder of the pool is divided by the number of winning units to give a dividend that is declared inclusive of a £1 stake. Odds fluctuate according to the pattern of betting and betting ceases when the race starts.

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