Racing Glossary

ABANDONED: A race meeting which has been cancelled because a club did not receive sufficient nominations to be able to stage it, or because of inclement weather which made racing on the track unsafe. A race meeting may also be abandoned part way through because of inclement weather. All bets placed on abandoned races are fully refunded.

ACCEPTOR: A runner officially listed to start in a race.

ALL THE WAY WIN: To lead from start to finish in a race.

APPRENTICE JOCKEY: Apprenticed to a trainer, apprentice jockeys have typically won less than 60 races and been in apprenticeship for less than 4 years. The weight carried by a horse is reduced from that stated in the handicap.

BACK STRAIGHT: The straight length of the track or pace way farthest away from the spectators and the winning post.

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

BARRIER DRAW: The ballot held by the race club to decide which starting stall each runner will occupy.

BIRDCAGE: See Enclosure.

BLINKERS: A device to prevent a horse from having sideways vision and keep its attention to what's in front of it.

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.

CARD: Another term for fixture or race meeting.

CHECK: When a horse is interfered with and has to change stride or slow down.

COLOURS: The special colourful silks worn by jockeys.

COLT: A male horse aged three or under.

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.

DEAD HEAT: When 2 or more runners finish together and cannot be separated by the judge after consulting the photo finish.

DECLARATION OF WEIGHTS: The publication of weights allocated to each horse nominated for a race by the handicapper.

DERBY: A Classic race for three-year-old horses.

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


FENCE: The inside fence is the inside running rail around the race track, while the outside fence is the outside running rail.

FIELD: All the individual runners listed by race. If you "take the field" you are backing every runner in the race.

FILLY: A female horse aged three or under.

FIRST UP: The first run a horse has in a new campaign or preparation, usually after having a spell.

FIXTURE: See meeting.

FORM: As found in a form guide, it consists of a listing of each runner's previous performance history. Recent form is included in race books and form guides in an effort to help punters select the horse most likely to win.

GATE: Another term for barrier, or position a horse will start from.

GELDING: A de-sexed male horse of any age.

GROUP RACES: The very highest quality races which carry most prestige and prize money.

HANDICAP: This can be a class of race or it can refer to the weight a horse carries.

HANDICAPPER: The official who decides the weights to be carried in handicap events.

HOME TURN: The final turn a horse must travel around before entering the home straight in the run to the finish line.

INQUIRY: If interference is suspected in a race, the stipendiary stewards (who run the race day) will call an inquiry. All dividends are held until the inquiry is resolved. The outcome may mean a change in the winning positions or payment on the original placings.

JUDGE: The person who declares the official placing for each race.

LATE SCRATCHING: A late Scratching is when a horse is Scratched after 7.30am on the morning of the race.

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

MARE: A female horse, aged four and over.

MARGINS: The official distance between placed animals at finish of a race, expressed in lengths. A length is the average length of a horse - 2.4 metres. When the margins are small, the judge uses terms such as Neck or Head.

MEETING: A collection of races conducted by a club on the same day forms a race meeting or fixture.

NOMINATIONS: The complete list of runners entered by owners and trainers for a race.

OAKS: A Classic race restricted to three-year-old fillies.

ON THE BIT: A horse that is racing well and keenly without having to be pushed along by its jockey.

PHOTO FINISH: When the finish of a race is so close that the judge requires the photo taken by a special camera to make his decision.

PROTEST: When a jockey/owner/trainer/steward alleges interference by one party against another during a race that may have affected the outcome of a race. If a protest is upheld by officials, the runner that caused the interference is placed directly after the horse interfered with. If a protest is dismissed by officials, the original result of the race stands.

RACE CALL: The description of a race while it is in process.

RACE CALLER: The person who describes the race at a racecourse.

RESTRICTED RACES: Races which only certain horses are eligible.

RUNNER: A participant in a race, also know as a starter.

RUNNING RAIL: The rail that defines the track configuration.

SCRATCHING: A horse that has been accepted for a field but for a reason cannot go and has to scratch. This must be done before 7.30am on the morning of the race.

SIRE: The male parent, or father, of a horse.

SPELL: The resting period between preparations or racing.

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.

STARTER: The person responsible for starting a race.

STARTING STALLS: Mechanical gates that ensure all horses start in unison, in greyhound racing the term is starting boxes.

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

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.

STIPENDIARY STEWARDS: Another term for the Stewards. The correct term is Stipendiary Stewards.

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.

TRACK CONDITIONS: In order from dry to wet: fast, good, dead, slow, heavy.

TRAIL: Racing immediately behind another horse. A trail is also known as a sit.

TRAINER: The person responsible for looking after a horse and preparing it to race. A trainer must hold a license or permit to be entitled to train.

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.

WEIGHT-FOR-AGE: Intention of weight-for-age is to allow horses of the same age and sex to compete on equal terms. The weight a horse carried is allocated on a set scale according to its sex and age.

WHIP: An implement used to spur on the horse in the run to the finish line.

WINNING POST: The finishing line of a race, also know simply as the post.