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A to Z of National Hunt Racing

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A to Z of National Hunt Racing


Acceptor - horse remaining in race after a key declaration stage

Acts on - performs on

Added Money - money added to race prize fund by the sponsor and/or racecourse executive 

All out - making every effort

Allowance - weight relief of up to 7lb awarded to a horse to compensate for it's riders inexperience

Also ran - A horse unplaced in race

Amateur Rider - Jockey without a license from the Jockey Club, who does not receive a fee for riding in a race

Ante-Post - Betting in advance/on the morning of raceday

Apprentice - Jockey in training

At the post - the point at which horses gather immediately before the start of a race


Backward - used to describe a horse who needs time to mature

Bay - Brown or tan horse with Black mane/tail

Between the Flags - Point to Point racing, where flags identify course layout/obstacles

Bits against/on - bookmaking slang for odds of 11/10 or 10/11

Blinkers - a pair of screens attached to a horses bridle to prevent it from seeing sideways

Blood line - Horses family tree

Blown up - Stopped running due to exhaustion or injury

Book - a record of bookmakers bets

Bookie - Bookmaker

Bookie's Runner - A person who who works on behalf of a bookmaker on course

Bookmaker - A person who takes bets, calculates odds and pays out winnings

Bumbling and Boring - term used when a horse veers off course near the end of a race and bumps an opponent

Breast Girth - A band round the body of a horse used to secure the saddle

British Horseracing Board (BHB) - Organisation with responsibility for strategic planning, finance, politics, race planning, training and marketing UK Racing (from 1993). The Jockey Club became the Regulator of Horseracing and continued with its traditional role.

Bumper - flat race for prospective jump horses

Buried - A racing accident when the horse has fallen on top of the jockey


Card - A list of the days races and runners

Cast (in box) - term describing  horse lying down in a horsebox

Chalk Jockey - Jockey not yet successful enough to have name painted on riders board (out of date)

Chase - Steeplechase

Cheating Boots - Jockeys racing boots made of extremely light material to save weight

Chestnut - Brown or tan horse with brown tail and mane

Claiming Race - race where the winner can be "claimed" from the yard for a set fee.

Clerk of the Course -Racecourse official responsible for overall management of a racecourse, including going

Clerk of the Scales - Racecourse official responsible for checking weight of jockey + tack in weighing room

Close coupled - short backed (horse)

Club - Premium racecourse enclosure reserved for racecourse annual and day members

Colours - Silks (shirt) worn by a jockey during a race to identify owner

Come again - regain ground after dropping back in a race

Come back to the field - when a front runner is caught, or slows to join other horses in a race 

Conditional Jockey - A young jockey (under 26) who receives a weight allowance for inexperience

Conditions - The going or weather

Course - Racecourse or that that part of a it for which visitors do not pay a premium to enter on raceday

Crash helmet - Jockey's headgear made compulsory in 1924 after the death of leading amateur Captain "Tuppy" Bennett having been kicked by a horse at Wolverhampton.


Dam - female parent of a horse

Declarations Clerk - Course official responsible for recording horses entered, or withdrawn from, a race

Declare - announce a horse intends to run in a race

Doll - hurdle used to mark our course, especially when an area is waterlogged

Drifter - horse whose odds lengthen in the betting market

Drop him in - Instruction to jockey to settle horse in a racing position behind the frontrunner in a race


Each Way - Bet  where the stake is split in two equal portions one on a  win, one on a place

Eased up - when a jockey stops putting pressure on a horse, allowing it to slow down


Fade - when a horse begins to fall back in the field due to exhaustion

Favourite - horse with shortest betting odds in a race

Fence - Large upright obstacle

Field - runners in a race

Fired - 

Firm - Ground condition between good to firm and hard

First time out - the first time a horse has run during a racing season

Fit - in suitable condition, ready

Flag - Race marker in point to point, or start/abandon race

Form - Condition of health and training

Furlong - An eighth of a mile (220 yards)


Gaff tracks - small, locally supported racetracks

Galloping Track - A racecourse which suits horses with a long stride, emphasis on speed

Garden (gate) - Bookmaking slang for odds of 8/1

Gelding - Castrated Horse

Gentleman Jockey - Amateur Rider

Get up - Catch up

Girth - Middle of a horse

Going - Ground condition (hard, firm, good to firm, good, good to soft, soft/yielding, heavy)

Graded Race - A race for top/better quality horses

Grey - Colour


Hacked up - won easily

Hand - unit of four inches with which a horses height is measured at the shoulder

Handicap - a race in which the weights to be carried by the horses are adjusted for the purpose of equalising their chance of winning.1st recorded National Hunt Handicap was at Eglington Park on 1st May 1941.

Handicapper - Professional responsible for alloting the the weights to be carried by each horse in a handicap

Hands & heels - Vigorous riding

Handful - Experienced by a jockey when a horse is being restrained prior to release for a run

Handy - In a good position, also nimble

Headed - Passed by another horse

Hobday - Operate on a horse to improve its breathing (F.T. Hobday, vetinary surgeon, 1939)

Home Straight - Distance of straight track before winning line

Hood - Head covering containing blinkers

Hunter Chase - weight for age steeplechase confined to horses certified by a master of hounds to have been hunted during the current year, and ridden by amateur riders. 

Hurdle - small upright obstacle

In Hand - in reserve

Inside - closest  to the inner rail on a racecourse

Instructions - Orders given to a jockey by owner and/or trainer

Interval Training - standard NH horse training regime where horses run 5 furlongs, rest & run again

In the frame - applied to a horse placed in top 3/4 a race


Jockey - a rider in horse races esp. a professional

Jockey's Agent - a person who negotiates ridng fees etc. on behalf of jockeys for a commission

Jockey Club - organisation responsible for the regulatation of horseracing.

Jolly - Bookmaking slang for a race favourite "Jolly old favourite"

Joint - Bookmaking slang for a bookmakers pitch in the betting ring

Journeyman - Seasoned professional jockey

Judge - racecourse official responsible for declaring the finishing order of a race and the distances between the runners

Jump up with - Join another horse over a jump

Juvenile - 2 yr old horse


Lad - stable employee

Lay - take a bet

Lay up - Position a horse behind leading runners during a race

Lead strips - Weights inserted in weight cloth on horses back to make racing weight

Left handed track - Raceourse where horses run anti-clockwise

Lesters - Famous Horse Racing "trade" dinner held in London

Levy Board - Horserace Betting Levy Board, an organisation whose primary aim is to redistribute monies from betting tax back into the industry


Maiden - Horse which has not won a race

Make it - Run at the head of the the field, setting the pace

Mare - Female Horse over 5 yrs old

Marker - Furlong post or other racecourse sign

Medical Book - Book held at racecourse where jockeys injuries/accidents are noted

Morning Line - Famous racing television program on Channel 4 (UK), Saturday mornings


NAP - Tipsters most confident bet

National Hunt Flat Race - see "Bumper"

Needs the run - Unfit or possibly inexperienced

Non-trier - A horse which (illegally) has failed/not been encouraged to give everything during a race

Nod - Head

Nose - win (nose in front)

Novice - a horse (hurdler or chaser) who has not won a race before 1st May of the current season

Number cloth - Number cloth - Cloth placed under the saddle showing horses racing number

Numbers board - metal frame/scoreboard ca. 6m high bearing race information (out of date)


Objection - complaint by one jockey about another about a breach of rules during a race

Odds - the ratio between the amounts staked on the outcome of a bet, based on the probability either way.

Odds-on - Odds e.g. 1/7 when the the denominator is larger than the numerator (i.e. in this instance, the bookmaker is asserting that there is a 6 out of 7 chance that the horse will win)

Odds-against - Odds e.g. 7/1 when the numerator is larger than the denominator.(i.e. in this instance, the bookmaker is asserting that there is a 1 out of 7 chance that the horse will win)

On - betting term for when a bet has been struck

Off - (of a race) the start

Off the bit/bridle - horse who has run out of energy and has to be pushed along, any restraint on the reins/bit having been released to allow the horse to run at maximum capacity.

Off the pace - not keeping up with other horses during a race

On the bit/bridle - horse being restrained from running all out (by pulling back on the reins and on the bit in its mouth)

On the nose - to win (that horses nose to be in front of the rest)

On the rail - Running close to the inside rail on a race track.

Open ditch - steeplechase race with a ditch on the take-off side

Open race - a race where it is generally agreed that any one of several horses could win.

Out of - "born to a mother called"

Outsider - A horse with a small chance in a race, as expressed by the offer of generous odds.

Over round - Number, expressing the percentage "take" a bookmaker has on a race. i.e. 117 = the number of pounds one would have to stake if one placed a bet on every horse in the race to win 100. Usually between 115 and 135.  

Overweight - when Jockeys riding weight (of jockey + tack) is above the minimum allowed by the handicapper.

Owner - person who owns a horse (or share therein)


Pace - Speed a race is run at

Paddock - Area where horses can be viewed prior to race, where the jockeys & trainers meet with owners. Incorporates pre-parade ring, parade ring and winner's enclosure

Paddock Rail - rail surrounding paddock preventing public access

Parade Ring - see paddock

Pattern race - Top quality (listed) race, divided into Grades 1, 2 & 3.

Pecked - nodded (head nearly landed on ground) after jumping fence.

Photo - Photograph taken as horses cross the line used to determine winner in close finish

Ping - term describing when a horse jumps a fence in good style

Pitch - The precise place in the betting ring allotted to a bookmaker

Placepot - Tote bet which involves predicting placed horses in a sequence of 6 races

Plater - horse which commonly runs in selling races (selling plates)

Pointer - Horse experienced in Point to Points

Point to Point - Cross County Horse Race run between a sequence of obstacles marked by red flags.

Pool - The total amount of money to be distributed evenly between winners.

Pop out - push a horse into a challenging position

Post - a pole marking the start or finish of a race

Practice Fence - a fence erected for the purpose of jumps practice

Pull in the weights - favourably weighted

Pulled up - stopped from continuing in a race

Punter - a person who gambles or lays a bet

Punt - the chief monetary unit of the Republic of Ireland

Push him out - refers to when a jockey pushes hands backwards and forwards whilst riding a horse vigorously, normally to win at the end of a race


Racing Post - Popular UK racing newspaper

Racecourse Medical Officer (RMO) - Racecourse doctor

Rail - (1) long bar at the top of a fence surrounding the racecourse or paddock area (2) waist height fence separating club/members area of the course from tattersalls

Rails Bookmaker - Large scale bookmaker standing on the Rail (2) offering odds to the bookmakers in the ring and to the general public in the club/members enclosure

Refused - stopped at a fence unwilling to jump

Reminder - when the jockey hits the horse with his/her whip to encourage it to pay attention to the matter in hand or make a further effort

Restricted Trainers - Trainers who are only licensed to run horses in certain types of race

Retained Jockey -  Jockey who is paid a regular fee by an owner to take rides on his/her horses

Riding Out - Exercise run at place of horses training

Riding Work - training as above

Right Handed Track - racecourse where the horses run clockwise

Rules of Racing - As published by the Jockey Club

Run in - final part/last 100 yards of a race when horses have jumped the last fence


Schooling - Jump training/practice

Scope - horses potential for physical development

Seller - Horse race which culminates in the winner being offered up for public auction

Shake up - final stages of competition in a race

Sharp Track - racecourse with tight corners

Show - odds as displayed on bookmaking boards

Silks - Jockey's racing attire in the colours of the horses owner

Sire - father (of a horse)

Skull Cap - mini helmet

Smart Money - Cash placed by by individuals who may have inside information as to the performance of a horse or horses in a race

Spread a plate - lose a horseshoe

Stable - Horse accommodation

Stable Jockey - Jockey employed by a stable to ride some or all of their horses at race meetings.

Stake - principle sum in a bet

Starter - Official responsible for starting a race

Starting Price (SP) - The average odds of a horse in the betting ring at the commencement of the race

Stayer - Horse with plenty of stamina, who can maintain a gallop for a long period of time.

Steamer - A horse for which the betting odds are rapidly shortening due to the volume and size of bets being placed.

Steeplechase - Race over fences

Stewards - Racecourse officials responsible for ensuring the rules of racing are adhered to

Stiff Track - Racecourse with stamina sapping inclines and/or challenging obstacles

Stirrup - each of a pair of devices attached to each side of a horses saddle, in the form of a loop with a flat base to support the riders foot.

Stirrup Leather - leather strap attaching stirrup to saddle.

Suspension - Riding ban imposed for a number of days


Tack - Riding accoutrements (saddle, harness, whip etc.)

Tattersalls - 

Testing Conditions - very soft ground (or dismal weather)

Through the Card - including every race

Tic Tac (tick tack) - a kind of manual semaphore signalling used by racecourse bookmakers to exchange information.

Timeform - popular handicapping service

Tipster - an individual who seeks to predict the outcome of a race

Tote - government owned bookmaker 

Trainer - "Manager" of a stable of horses

Turn of foot - Acceleration or speed as applied to a horse


Under starters orders - period at the start of the race between that the horses & their jockeys are called into line and the time that the stater urges them to start

Undulating Track - An uneven track with many uphill/downhill slopes

Unsaddling Enclosure - Course area where horses have tack removed.


Valet - person responsible for looking after a jockey

Visor - projecting cap used to limit a horses field of vision


Walkover - race with only one runner

Weatherby's - A commercial organisation which handles administration on behalf of the racing industry.

Weighing in/out - Procedure whereby jockeys (and their tack) are weighed prior to and immediately after the race to ensure they are achieving the weight required by the handicapper

Weighing Room - room in which jockeys weigh in/out

Weight cloth - cloth with pockets for lead weights placed under saddle

Weight for age - weight allowance given to a horse on account of it's age

Weights - lead strips placed in a weight cloth to bring the jockey/tack up to the handicap weight

Whip - A lash attached to a stick for urging on horse

Whipper in - a huntsman's assistant who manages the hounds, or a horse at the back of a field

Winning-post - Post marking the end of a race

Win too far - when a horse is extended in a race to win by an uneccessarily large margin, risking more severe treatment by a handicapper.


Yard - Unit of linear measure equal to 3 feet (0.9144 metres)

Yard - Trainers Premises

Yearling - name for a horse between the 1st January and 31st December following the year of its birth


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