Acceptor: Owners/trainers are required to pay a fee in order for their horse to be eligible for a race. The payment of this fee confirms that a particular horse plans to participate.
Added Weight: Weight above and beyond the race steward assigned weight. This can happen when a jockey gets a little too fond of the tucker, but the horses connections feel that the jockey’s skills outweigh the added weight.
Aged: An old horse. One that is seven years of age or older.
All In: A wager placed early after a race has opened for betting.
All Up: A bet type where winnings are carried over to subsequent races.
Apprentice: A young jockey, usually under 21 years of age who has not yet earned his/her senior license.
Apprentice Allowance: Weight reduction given to apprentice jockeys. Can be up to 4kg.
Approximates: Odds can fluctuate up until close to the jump of a race.
Asparagus: Typically, a punter lacking funds to place his own wagers who offers tips in the hopes of receiving a cut so as to fund a punt of his own. As in, “He has more tips than a tin of asparagus.”
Back: To bet on a horse to Win or Place.
Backed In: Term used to describe a horse that has attracted so much backing that its odds will decline.
Backed Off the Map: Term used to describe a horse that has received heavy backing to the extent that it is heavily favoured and therefore will not offer much of a dividend.
Backed Up: Frequently raced horse, typically within a week of its previous try.
Bagman: Person who works for a bookmaker whose job it is to settle bets at the track.
Banker: Term for the horse that acts as the standout selection, a sure thing.
Barrier Draw: Drawing to determine which position in the barrier or starting gate a runner will occupy for the start of a race.
Big Note: Punter who is very fond of not necessarily warranted bragging or self-promotion.
Big Red: Affectionate nickname for Phar Lap that has come to be applied to other Chestnut horses.
Big 6: NSW and VIC bet type requiring correctly picking the winners of six consecutive races.
Black Book: Service offered by bookmakers to punters that informs them when a chosen horse is set to run.
Blinkers: Device worn by a horse during a racing in order to limit its peripheral vision so as not to be distracted by the other horses beside it.
Bolter: A winning horse that was unexpected to win and hence had long odds. The Pearl would be considered a Bolter for having won the 1871 Melbourne Cup at 100-1 odds.
Bookmaker: (Bookie) Person or company that is authorised to offer odds and accept bets from punters.
Box: Punting term for a bet that spreads the risk over a large number of probabilities.
Boxed In: A horse that is trapped betwixt others during a race. This is typically the fault of the jockey and often leads to a protest if the runner that was boxed in would have otherwise had a legitimate chance to win.
Box Seat: Position of a horse during a race where that horse is running right behind the leaders and one horse out from the rail. A good place from which to gauge the pace.
Bute: Anti-inflammatory medication given to horses. Must not be detected in horses on the day of a race.
Cat or Camel: A very slow horse.
Camel Traders: European owners who attempt to sell weak runners to the locals.
Card: Scheduled races at a meeting.
Caulfield Cup: 2,400 metre race put on by the MRC. Held during the Spring Carnival in mid-October, one of the most important races on the Australian racing calendar. Considered as something of a harbinger for The Melbourne Cup.
Check or Checked: Term for when a horse is impeded or knocked off stride during a race. The jockey is forced to check in order to avoid a crash. Often results in a protest being lodged.
City Best: Bet offering where the punter is guaranteed to receive the best odds from the TABs or the Starting Price. Applies to events held at the metropolitan race courses.
Coat Tugger: Generally, a person on a race course who offers a tip, and if successful will expect to share winnings.
Colours: Racing silks worn by the horse and its jockey.
Colt: An intact male horse of less than three years of age. Many male horses are gelded to make them more manageable, but it would just make me mad.
Connections: Specifically, a horse’s owner(s), but generally used for anyone associated with the horse, such as trainers and their staffs.
Correct Weight: Winners and Placers must be weighed at the conclusion of a race to ascertain that they did not mysteriously lose weight between the weighing prior to the race and the end. Required before bookmakers and tote will settle bets.
Cox Plate: Moonee Valley race course major event that takes place betwixt the Caulfield and the Melbourne Cup. 2,000 metres under Weight for Age conditions.
Daily Double: Two nominated races that offer a dividend greater than that which would be received were a punter to pick the winners of those races individually.
Daily Treble: Same as Daily Double, except three races are involved.
Dam: Mother of a horse.
Dead: Track condition indicating a soft track one grade below Good.
Derby: A stakes race that is restricted to horses aged three years.
Dividend: Amount paid for winning or placed horses per dollar wagered.
Draw: The horses’ position in the starting gate (barrier) is determined by a random drawing.
Duffer: A horse that does poorly in certain track conditions. A horse that runs well on soft or muddy tracks is a Mudder, but one who does poorly is a duffer. Term borrowed from the game of golf.
Each Way: Betting on a horse to either win or place. Cannot be used in races where there a four or fewer runners.
Emu: A person who will retrieve discarded tickets, especially after a protest regarding the outcome of a race has been lodged, since many punters will throw a ticket away after a race if they think the outcome is final.
Entire: Male horse with intact reproductive organs.
Even Money: Odds offering the same dividend as the amount invested.
Exacta: Bet type where the finishers must run 1st and 2nd in the punter selected order in order to be a winner.
Exotics: Any bet type other than a Win or Place. Common exotics include the Quinella, Exacta, Trifecta or Quaddie.
False Favourite: A horse favoured in a race even though its history does not justify its having this status.
Farrier: Old-time name for a blacksmith who focuses on taking care of horses hooves. Modern farriers at the elite level need to have extensive knowledge concerning metallurgy because unlike in old times, horseshoes may be made from exotic light-weight alloys.
Fast: Track condition that is very hard and unforgiving. Makybe Diva’s connections threatened to hold her out of her record setting third Melbourne Cup win unless the track was softened to protect her.
Favourite: Horse expected to win a race and has the shortest odds.
Feature Race: The race with the highest status on a meeting card. Typically has the most prize money and prestige, as in a Group 1 race on a card with perhaps one or two Group 2 races or a couple Group 3 or Listed races. Usually the last or penultimate race of a meeting.
Filly: Female horse of less than three years age.
First Up: First race of a season or campaign for a horse.
Fixed Odds: Bet type where once the punt is on, odds are fixed at that time.
Flat Race: Thoroughbred racing is held on flat ground, even though certain noteworthy race courses have a sloped stretch. Technically, harness racing is considered flat racing, as opposed to a hurdles or steeplechase. A harness race over hurdles would be most interesting, but the same animal rights folks who have succeeded in essentially stamping out jumps racing would object strenuously.
Flexi-Betting: The ability offered by some bookmakers for a punter to invest an amount smaller than the full value of a bet. Returns a specified percentage of the dividend. Good tactic for minmising risk.
Fluctuation: Odds move up and down as betting on an event or a horse progresses. Many bookmakers offer a betting incentive known as Top Fluc. See below.
Form: Guide to a horse’s past performance and anticipated results.
Fresh: A horse that is returning from a brief rest is said to have been freshened. Typically betwixt one month and 90 days, after which is would be said to being “spelled.”
Front Runner: A horse that turns in its best performances when taking the lead early and attempting to hold off challengers.
Furlong: Traditional measure of distance in a race prior to the metric system adoption in the early 70s. It is equal to 1/8th of a mile, about 200 metres.
Gelding: Male horses are sometimes castrated to decrease their tendencies to be distracted by mares and fillies and to stop them from fighting with other male horses for dominance. Many great champions that might otherwise have been obscure have been geldings. Unfortunately, being gelded is a calculated risk because all future potential for stud fees is forfeited.
Golden Slipper: Premier race offering the biggest purse for two-year-olds. Held at Sydney’s Rosehill race course during the Autumn Racing Carnival.
Good: Ideal condition for a course. Fast but not punishing.
Group Race: Highest status for a race, in descending order of significance: Group 1, Group 2, Group 3, Listed.
Handicap: Weight assigned to a horse in order to level the playing field. Unknown horses will generally be given light burdens, whilst an established champion will receive heavy burdens.
Handicapper: The person responsible for assigning weights.
Head: A small winning or losing margin. Only a Nose and a Half Head are smaller.
Heavy Track: Very wet and slow racing conditions.
Hoop: Synonym for jockey.
Horse: Technical term for a non-gelded horse four years of age or more.
Impost: The weight assigned to a horse.
In the Money: A racer that finishes in first, second or third.
In the Red: odds shorter than even money.
Jackpot: Prize money carried over from the pool or a bonus added by the Tote.
Judge: Race official who declares the final finishing order of a race.
Juvenile: A horse two years of age.
Knocked Up: Describes a horse that packs it in during the stretch.
Knuckled: Describes a horse that stumbles and almost crashes. Great source of unwanted adrenaline to horse, jockey, connections and fans.
Late Mail: Information just prior to the jump concerning scratches, jockey changes and track conditions, or a final fluctuation in the odds.
Late Scratching: Term used to describe a horse being held out of a race after 8 am on the day of the race. If the event had been opened for wagering, the dividends may experience a reduction.
Lay: When a bookmaker will lengthen a horse’s odds in order to attract wagers in the belief that the horse cannot possibly win. Also, a type of betting offered by exchanges that enables a punter to place a wager on something not happening.
Length: Margin of victory or defeat equivalent to the length of a horse from head to tail.
Lengthen (also: Eased): A runner’s odds increase, offering a higher payout.
Listed Race: Next classification in race quality after Group 1, 2 and 3.
Maiden: A horse of either sex and any age that has never won a race, or a race that is limited to horses of this status.
Mare: Female horse four years of age and older.
Market: The list of horses competing in a race, along with their odds.
Melbourne Cup: Top race in the southern hemisphere in terms of prize money and prestige. Offers six million dollars in prize money and is run over 3200 metres at Melbourne’s Flemington race course. Known as “The Race That Stops a Nation.”
Middle Distance: A race that is longer than a sprint, but shorter than a staying race, generally considered as all races of at least 1,600 metres and not over 2,000 metres.
Mudlark: A horse that performs above expectations on wet and heavy tracks, or in the rain.
Mug Punter: One who is not very good at betting and fails to use Pro Group Racing to make his selections for him.
Near-Side: The left-hand side of the horse that is used by the jockey for mounting and dismounting. The right-hand side is called the Off-side.
Nose: Smallest margin of victory or defeat. Sometimes used interchangeably with “short half head.”
Oaks: Many races are called by Oaks combined with some descriptive term indicating the place or time a race is held that is run under stakes conditions for three-year-old fillies.
Odds: Prices offered by a bookmaker or TAB.
Odds Against: Even money or better.
Odds-On: Odds are shorter than Even Money.
On the Nod: A bet taken by a bookie on credit, usually to a punter with a solid reputation for trustworthiness.
Pacifier: A device worn on the head by horses that protects the eyes and also helps high-spirited thoroughbreds to calm down.
Paddock: Place at the race course where horses are saddled prior to a race.
Parlay: A cumulative bet where winnings are carried forward to the next race or some other race. Requires the punter to pick two or more runners to win or place.
Penalty: Additional weight imposed on a horse’s handicap weight.
Penetrometer: Modern way of determining track conditions. A special instrument is used to probe the track at different areas, which returns readings that are then averaged.
Photo Finish: A race that is so close that the winner cannot be determined by the un-aided eye and so requires a photo to capture the crossing of the finish line.
Place: To finish in the top three in a field of eight or more horses. In a field of 7 or fewer runners, a horse must finish second in order to place.
Price: Odds attached to a horse.
Protest: Procedure by which a jockey, trainer or owner will argue the apparent outcome of a race, claiming interference by another horse. If the protest is upheld, the finishing order is reversed, placing the guilty horse directly behind the horse that was interfered with. If the protest is dismissed, the original result is declared legitimate.
Punt: A bet.
Punter: A person placing a bet.
Quadrella: A bet type in which the winner of four designated races must be selected.
Quinella: A bet type where the first two finishers must be selected in either order of finish.
Racing Plates: Lightweight horseshoes applied by a farrier on race day that need only last for the race.
Rails: The most desirable location in the betting ring.
Restricted: Rules for specific races that specify which horses are eligible to compete. Usually by age or gender.
Return: The dividend for a successful wager.
Ring-In: To substitute one horse for another. The most famous case of this tactic in Australia was the Fine Cotton Affair of 1984, which along with being hilarious, resulted in two prominent members of the Waterhouse clan being warned off for almost 15 years.
Roughie: A horse carrying long odds that has nothing more than a “rough” chance of winning.
Scratch: A horse is taken out of a race. Usually caused by a health issue or a concern for the scratched horse’s welfare. Can cause some serious controversy, as well as chaos affecting the odds of a race.
Shorten: Odds on a horse going down, usually as a result of heavy backing.
Second Up: A horse’s second run that follows the horse’s First Up run that is followed by a spell of 90 days or more.
Sire: Father of a horse.
Slaughtered: A Horse is said to have been slaughtered when it was ridden poorly by the jockey, giving it no opportunity to win, as in the case of a front runner being held back in the pack or a strong finisher being spent on too rapid a pace.
Slow: Track condition betwixt good and heavy.
SP Bookie: Formerly, a bookie operating outside the confines of a race course that was at one time illegal. Now, it is a bet type where the punter receives the price or odds at the time of the start of a race.
Spell: Resting a horse to prepare it for an upcoming season or campaign. Must be longer than 90 days to be considered a spell, and most horses receive an automatic spell betwixt the spring and fall racing carnivals, at least at the elite levels, where there is not much racing going on.
Sportsbook: A person or shop or website that accepts bets.
Spring Racing Carnival: Primary racing season in Australia. Approximately 50 days long, many premier races, such as the Caulfield Cup, Cox Plate and Melbourne Cup are held. It is called a carnival because of the festive atmosphere that includes many social events, not necessarily because there are any clowns present.
Sprint: Races of less than 1600 metres.
Stake, Stakes: Prize money paid to the winning horse’s owner or the sum of money held for the parties in a bet.
Stallion: A male horse used for breeding purposes. A successful runner is retired to stud and earns stud fees.
Stayer: A horse that excels at endurance races of over 2,000 metres.
Steeplechase: Jumping race, close to extinct in Australia due to the risk to the horses primarily, but also quite risky for the riders. So named because when they originated, steeplechases used tall church steeples for purposes of navigation.
Stewards: Race officials charged with ensuring fair competition.
Strapper: A groom or a person that takes care of a horse, feeding, grooming, training rides and getting ready for the race.
Stick: Jockey’s whip.
Stretch: Final straightaway of a race course.
Stud: Male horse used for breeding purposes, or a farm where this activity is conducted.
Suspension: To be prohibited from competing. Imposed by stewards on jockeys and trainers for rules infractions.
Swooper: Horse that likes to run from the back, overtaking the field in the stretch.
TAB: Acronym for Totalisator Agency Board. The governing body that regulates off-course betting. The first of these was in Victoria, commencing operations in 1961. Some TABs are private businesses and others are administered by the governments of the states where they are located.
Thoroughbred: A horse bred specifically for flat track racing. Pedigree records are scrupulously maintained and breeding results analyzed in order to produce superior race horses.
Top Weight: The horse that carries the most weight in a Weight-for-Age race. Wears number 1 on its saddle cloth.
Totalisator (Tote): Automated system that records bets, dispenses race tickets, calculates and displays odds and provides a method for cashing winning tickets. Devised with the intent of making race betting regulated and outside the realm of the criminal element.
Track Conditions: Fast, Good, Dead, Slow, Heavy. Track conditions can have a significant impact on the outcome of a race and the odds of the horses competing.
Treble: An exotic bet type involving three nominated races.
Trifecta: Exotic bet type requiring the punter to pick the first three runners in a race in the exact order of finish.
Trifecta Box: Elaborate permutation of the Trifecta bet type.
Underlay: Odds shorter than a horse’s previous record would seem to justify.
Under Wraps: A horse is held back from running completely freely.
Under Double Wraps: A horse wins easily without much exertion.
Wager: Bet or Punt.
Walkover: A race where only one horse makes it to the barrier and competes. So called because the horse must only be weighed in and out and ridden past the judges’ box and since it is the only horse in the race, it can simply walk.
Warned Off: Suspended, prohibited from contact with other licensed competitors. Often has something to do with betting irregularities or detection of banned substances.
Weigh In/Weigh Out: Process used to make certain that the jockey weight before and after a race is the same. Jockeys often carry lead bags to bring them up to the weight assigned to their horse.
Weight For Age: Type of race where a horse is assigned a weight according to its age and past performance. Designed to make it possible for horses of different abilities to compete more equally.
Well-Held: A horse that coasts to victory without exerting a lot of effort is said to have been well-held.
Winkers: Sheepskin device that limits a horse’s peripheral vision, but not so much as blinkers.
Write Your Own Ticket: A horse so unlikely to win or place that a punter could essentially receive any desired odds.