Horse Racing Betting Glossary

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Horse Betting Glossary – Horse Racing Terminology Explained

If you’re new to horse racing , some of the sport’s terminology might sound like a different language. Here at , we aim to provide our community with the best resources and sports betting guides so that you can place the best and most informed bets.

So, if you don’t know your blinkers from your silks or your colts from your fillies, saddle up and join us as we explore the horse racing terms you need to know to make informed bets on our Sportsbook.

Horse Racing Betting Terminology

Whether you’re a seasoned punter or a newcomer to the world of horse racing, understanding the lingo, as well as researching form, is key to success. Our glossary covers essential terms to help you confidently navigate the daily race cards at Stake Sportsbook .

Apprentice Jockey

These are jockeys aged between 16 and 25 who are yet to turn professional and race primarily during the flat race season.

Allowance Race

Allowance races, also known as conditions races, are a step up from claiming races. They aren’t handicap races, but there are conditions applied. For example, amateur jockeys may have less weight applied to their horses or female horses may carry less weight.


Ante-post bets are placed before a formal betting market is opened on a horse race, sometimes months ahead. If a horse listed on the ante-post does not go on to race, you will lose the bet.


This is a common coat colour of a thoroughbred horse. It is reddish-brown, with a black colour towards the mane.

Blanket Finish

This term describes a close finish – so close that you could put a blanket over multiple horses involved at the finishing post. You’ll also hear of photo finishes, which are so close that the result is determined by a still image.


Blinkers are a form of headgear applied to a horse to encourage them to focus on running their race and avoid the distraction of the horses around them.


An individual or organisation that breeds thoroughbred horses. Exceptional performers can command huge fees at ‘stud’.

Claiming Race

Claiming races are horse races featuring horses made available for sale by their current owners.


A colt is a young male thoroughbred horse. They are aged under 5 and haven’t been gelded (castrated). Colts aged 3 are permitted to enter major events like the Preakness Stakes.


Also known as a “stallion”, an entire is a male horse aged 4 or above.


A filly is a female horse, aged between 2 and 4, and is too young and immature to be called a mare.

Fixed Odds

Once you place your bet on the horse you think will win, your odds are fixed, even though the price may move over time.

Flat Race

A flat race does not have any jumps, hurdles, or obstacles. They can be held over varying distances, with shorter flat races known as sprint races. These involve horses who can post the fastest time over a race distance of 5 to 8 furlongs.


Most horse race lengths are measured in miles and furlongs. 1 furlong is an eighth of a mile (220 yards).

Graded Race

These are non-restricted US horse races with minimum prize purses of $100,000 or greater. They have been run at least twice under the same race conditions on the same track surface to achieve graded status in the eyes of the American Graded Stakes Race Committee.


A handicap race attempts to pit horses of varied ability against one another, using weight allocations to level the playing field. The better horses carry extra weight.

Interim Dividends

In pooled betting (see Pari-Mutuel), winnings are known as dividends, given in decimals. You might see payouts referred to as interim dividends, which hold until the final result is declared officially, perhaps owing to a stewards inquiry of some sort.


A juvenile horse is a 2-year-old thoroughbred in flat racing and a 3-year-old in National Hunt racing.


A lay bet is placed on a horse not to win – the opposite of betting on a horse to win.

Maiden Race

A maiden is a race for horses yet to win a race. They are held over several distances and race conditions. The betting odds can be more volatile in these races since there’s very little good form to go off.


A nap is a slang term for someone’s bet of the day. A tipster will call their bet with the best-perceived chance of winning their daily “nap”.


This betting system, also known as the “tote”, pools all wagers placed by bettors. Payouts from betting pools are determined using total wagers, less taxes and vigorish (or vig, the amount that goes to the tote organiser).


It’s possible to back a horse to “place” as well as win outright. The number of places offered will depend on the size of the race. 5-to-7 runner races usually offer 2 places, 8-to-15-runner races usually offer 3 places, while any bigger races usually pay to 4 or even 5 places on special occasions like the Grand National.

Prep Race

A prep race or workout is typically scheduled to enable a racehorse to get in shape ahead of an important race meeting.


This details the starting gate for a horse. Most races over shorter distances will start from gates, while long-distance races usually start with the horses tightly grouped at the starting post. Some racetracks will have a post-position bias, where those in certain gates have a better chance of winning than others.


The white rail alongside the track.


Silks are the colours worn by each horseracing jockey. They are an identifier for commentators and bettors. Each racehorse owner has their own unique silks, which can be worn in races when any of their stable runs.


This is the amount of money you choose to wager on a horse. Some bettors will break their betting bankroll into 100 units and only stake a single betting unit per horse, a good way to gamble responsibly.


Stewards oversee all elements of a horseracing meeting. Their remit is to ensure all the rules of racing are adhered to, in line with the regulatory body which oversees the sport. They also help to determine the outcome of a photo finish or post-race penalties.

Stewards’ Inquiry/Protest

Stewards investigate complaints of any wrongdoing. One example might be a horse interfering with another unfairly during the race.

Track Surface

The track surface relates to the type of surface at a racecourse. You’ll find all-weather tracks and turf tracks, the latter of which have the greater potential to be heavy, muddy tracks if there’s been plenty of rain.


The trainer is the individual tasked with preparing the horses for race meetings. Horses usually reside at the trainer’s stables, where they undergo most of the prep work, with a racing secretary typically overseeing the yard’s administration.


A trifecta bet requires correctly predicting the horses finishing first, second, and third in a race. Crucially, it must be the exact order, with no other combination deemed a winner.


A bet on the outcome of a race.


A young horse between 6 and 12 months.


Weights are used in handicap races to create a more even playing field. Higher-rated prospects will face a weight concession, having to carry more weight than their lesser-fancied opponents.


You bet on the horse you think will be first past the winning post.


A sheepskin attached to the bridle chin straps to help keep attention focused forward.


A horse aged between 1 and 2 years.


A turf surface that is soft from recent rain.

For even more information, be sure to read up on our exotics betting guide and biggest horse racing events around the globe.

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