Racing Terminology

Racing is an interesting business but has lots of words that you might only hear around the racecourse. Here is a few key terms explained. If you are looking for more see this guide.


ACTION: A horse’s manner of moving.


BACKUP: To race a horse soon after its last race.   


BARRIER: The positions in the starting stall that the runners start the race from.BIRDCAGE: See Enclosure.


BIT: A stainless steel, rubber or aluminium bar, attached to the bridle, which fits in the horse’s mouth and is one of the means by which a jockey exerts guidance and control.


BLACKTYPE: Thoroughbred sale catalogues use boldface type to highlight horses that have won or placed in a stakes race e.g. Group 1, 2, 3 or Listed


BOXED IN: A horse that is racing on the rails (or fence) and is surrounded by other horses in front, outside and behind it. A horse that is boxed in is held up and unable to gain a clear passage.


BRIDLE: A piece of equipment usually made of leather or nylon, which fits on a horse’s head and is where other equipment, such as a bit and the reins, are attached.


CLERK OF THE COURSE: Mounted racecourse official who manages the horses and jockeys on the racetrack.


CLERK OF THE SCALES: An official whose chief duty is to weigh the riders before and after a race to ensure the correct weight is/was carried.


CORRECT WEIGHT: Horses are allocated a weight to carry that is checked before and, for at least the place getters, after a race. Correct weight must be signalled before bets can be paid out.


EACHWAY: To bet for a win or a place


ENCLOSURE: The area where the runners gather for viewing before and after the race.


ENTIRE: Any male horse with testicles in the scrotum


FARRIER: Horseshoer, blacksmith


FIELD: All the individual runners listed by race. If you "take the field" you are backing every runner in the race.GROUP RACES: The very highest quality races which carry most prestige and prize money.


HALF BROTHER, HALF SISTER: Horses out of the same dam but by different sires.  It does not apply to horses by the same sires out of different dams.


MAIDEN: A horse which has not yet won a race. Alternatively, a race for runners yet to win a race.


PENETROMETER: A device used to measure the hardness or softness of the track by measuring the extent to which the device penetrates the ground.


STAKES: The sums of money deposited or guaranteed by the parties to bet, or the amount of prize money available to placed runners in a race.


STAYER: A horse that has the endurance to race well over long distances.


STEWARD or STIPENDIARY STEWARDS: The people who control the day’s racing by ensuring that every runner competes on its merits and imposing penalties for any breach of the rules of racing.


STRAIGHT: From the home turn to the winning post.


STRAPPER: Person, who assists the trainer, cares for the horse or helps to put on its equipment. Also known as an attendant.


TOTALISATOR: All bets are placed into a pool, and dividends are paid by dividing the final pool by the amount invested on the winner, less a fixed percentage.


WEIGH-IN: After each race, jockeys, their saddles and any additional weight they needed to carry are weighed in to ensure they complied with the set handicap.