Horse Racing Terms and Abbreviations

The horse racing terms and abbreviations you may come across as you look, listen, watch and bet on horse racing.

Horse Racing Terms and Abbreviations

All Out

When a horse is putting in maximum effort.


A weight allowance is given when horses of a certain age race against older horses or when an apprentice rider is on board.

All Weather Surface

An artificial surface (usually polytrack or fibresand in the UK) on which racing takes place. Lingfield, Kempton, Wolverhamption and Dundalk all have all weather surfaces.

Ante Post

Betting on a race well before the day of the event that includes all possible runners. Ante post bets that fail to take part will be counted as losers.


A young jockey who gains a weight allowance over more experienced jockeys. The weight allowance decreases as the jockey gains more victories.


A horse that is not fit enough or developed enough to do itself justice.


The shortest of the odds not mentioned in a betting summary or forecast.

Best Turned Out

The horse judged to be the best looking in the paddock. This is often awarded by sponsors of the race rather than experts.

Blinkers (b)

A device fitted to a horse's head which restricts it's field of vision in order to help it's concentration.

First Time Blinkers (b1)

If the horse is sporting blinkers for the first time a 1 will appear next to the b that shows the horse is declared to wear blinkers.

Brought Down (BD)

When a horse falls or trips over one of the horses in front.

Best Odds Guaranteed (BOG)

A promotion offered by many bookmakers whereby you take a price on your selection and if it starts the race at a bigger price you get paid out at those increased odds.

Betting Ring

The area of a racecourse where most of the on course bookmakers congregate.

Black Type

A horse receives ‘black type’ if it finishes in the first three in a listed or group race. Important for breeding considerations.

Boxed In

When a horse is surrounded by horses with nowhere to go.


A horse that is on the bridle is yet to be asked for an effort.


A national hunt race run over the flat (no hurdles or fences).

Course and Distance (C&D)

C&D or CD next to a horse denotes the horse has already won over that distance at that course. If the C D is separated it means the horse has won at that course and over that distance but not over that distance at that course, meaning the horses win(s) at that course came over a different distance.


When a jockey pulls the reigns for an instant to avoid a serious collision with another horse.

Cheek Pieces (p)

Head gear worn by horses to help performance.

First Time Cheek Pieces (p1)

If the horse is sporting cheek pieces for the first time a 1 will appear next to the p that shows the horse is declared to wear cheek pieces.

Clerk Of The Scales

The official responsible for ensuring all jockeys weigh in correctly at the end of a race.

Co Favourite

A favourite who is joint favourite with at least two other horses.

Computer Straight Forecast (CSF)

The dividend paid for obtaining the forecast in a race (first and second in the correct order).


The female parent of a horse.

Dead Heat

When two or more horses’ finishing positions cannot be separated by the minimum winning margin (a nose).

Declarations (Decs)

A list of horses due to run in a race. They are most commonly early declarations (more than 5 days before the race), 5 day declarations (a shortlist of horses likely to run in the race) and final declarations (the full list of horses that will take part, either 48 or 24 hours before the race).


The return to a £1 stake from a selected bet.

Each Way (EW)

A bet on a horse to place as well as win. Place terms depend on number of runners and type of race.

Fell or Faller (F)

A horse that falls at a fence will receive the note of F in the formbook.


The shortest priced runner in a field and the most likely winner in the eyes of the bookies.

Front Runner

A horse that likes to lead throughout a race.


Standard distance unit in racing. A furlong is equal to 200m (201.1m to be precise) and there are eight furlongs in a mile.


A male horse that has been castrated.


A horse that will give it’s jockey maximum effort when asked.


The condition of the ground at a racecourse. The going ranges from heavy to firm.


Running excitedly and unecnomically associated with inexperience.

Hood (h)

A form of headgear designed to assist nervous or anxious horses when running.

First Time Hood (h1)

If the horse is sporting a hood for the first time a 1 will appear next to the h that shows the horse is declared to wear a hood.


A horse is hampered when another runner gets too close and costs another runner momentum.


A race where horses carry different weights based on their official rating.


A horse that takes a handy position will be near the lead.


A horse that ‘hangs’ when running drifts off a true line. This usually happens when pressure is applied to the horse and can sometimes be a sign the horse is finding the ground too firm or it can just be a quirk.

Head (hd)

A head is a distance a horse can be beaten by another and is denoted with hd in the formbook.

Held Up

A horse that is held up spends the majority of a race near the rear of the field before being asked for an effort.

Hunter Chase

A hunter chase is a race run over fences only open to horses that have hunted for at least 4 days that season. Hunter chases will usually be contested by older horses.

In Foal

A mare is described as in foal when she is pregnant and some mares will still race in this condition and it often brings about an improved performance.

Joint Favourite

One of two horses who are at the head of the market for a race.


Another name for the favourite.

Last Time Out (LTO)

Refers to the previous race of a horse.


A horse that is yet to win as race. Most horses will lose their maiden tag in maiden races, which can only be contested by horses who have not yet won.


A tipster's best bet of the day.

Next Best (Nb)

A tipster's second best bet of the day.

Neck (nk)

A neck is a distance a horse can be beaten by another and is denoted with nk in the formbook.

Non Runner

A horse that was originally declared to run but is no longer participating.

Non Runner No Bet (NRNB)

Non Runner No Bet - Bet on an antepost market where the stake is returned in the event of a non runner

Nose (nse)

A nose is the shortest distance a horse can be beaten by another and is denoted with nse in the formbook.

Not Travelling

A horse is described as not travelling or not travelling well when it is struggling to keep the pace and has to be ridden earlier than anticipated by the jockey.


In jumps racing a novice is a horse that at the start of the season had not won a race in it’s particular code of race (hurdles or chases).


A flat race only open to 2 year olds.

Off The Bridle

When a horse is not travelling well and having to be ridden along to keep pace with the other horses in the race it is said to be off the bridle.

On The Bit

A horse that is yet to be asked for any effort from the jockey.


An eventuality where the jockey weighs more than the weight one of his rides is supposed to carry.

Pulled Up (P)

When the jockey decides to end a horse’s race prematurely due to suspected injury or getting too far behind. This will be denoted by a P in the formbook.

Pari Mutuel (PM)

A tote style betting system used in France (the only betting system in France).


Extra weight that a horse has to carry due to a recent win.

Photo Finish

A method of deciding a race when it is too close to call for the naked eye.


Usually refers to a horse that finished in the first three. Four places are only paid in handicaps with 16 or more runners and two places are paid when there are between 5 and 7 runners.


Can refer to a horse as being talented or developed beyond it’s years.


If a horse takes a prominent position in a race it races near to the lead.


A horse is described as quirky when it displays certain characteristics such as not enjoying hitting the front, hanging across the course or generally not seeming a genuine tryer.


The complete outsider in a field.

Ran Out (RO)

A horse that ‘runs out’ takes the wrong course or goes through the barriers and is therefore disqualified. Denoted by RO in the formbook.

Refused To Race (RR)

Some horses refuse to take part in a race. Denoted by RR in the formbook.

Rule 4 (R4)

A reduction in odds on bets placed before a certain time due to a fancied runner being withdrawn. The more fancied the runner, the bigger the rule 4 deduction.


This is effectively teaching a horse how to race, most commonly associated with teaching them to jump obstacles. If a horse is considered to have schooled well at home it has been working well at home.

Short Head (shd)

A short head is a distance a horse can be beaten by another and is denoted with shd in the formbook.


The colours worn by a jockey.


The male parent of a horse.

Starting Price (SP)

The price of a horse when the race starts broadly based on an average of the on course bookmakers odds for the horse.

Stewards Enquiry

An investigation into on goings in a given race. Can result in place reversal or jockey suspensions.


A betting forecast designed to predict the odds of each runner in an event.

Tongue Tie (t)

A breathing aid used on horses that has a strip of cloth to stabilise the tongue and stop it from sliding over the bit.

First Time Tongue Tie

If the horse is sporting a tongue tie for the first time a 1 will appear next to the t that shows the horse is declared to wear a tongue tie.

Top Weight

The horse carrying most weight in the race, this runner will be number 1 and the weights decrease as you look down the race card for each race.


Betting system that settles bets based on dividends rather than set prices.

Unseated (U)

When a horse loses it’s jockey without actually falling it is referred to as unseating. Unseating most commonly occurs just after landing after jumping a fence and is denoted by a U in the formbook.


A horse that is described as unexposed is deemed to still have plenty of improvement left.

Visor (v)

A device fitted to a horse's head which restricts it's field of vision in order to help it's concentration.

First Time Visor (v1)

If the horse is sporting a visor for the first time a 1 will appear next to the v that shows the horse is declared to wear a visor.


A race where there is only one runner left after a number of non runners.

Weighed In

The weighing in process involves checking the rider raced with the correct weight. When a winner has weighed in the result is 100% confirmed. Failure to weigh in correctly results in disqualification.

Weight Cloth

The method used to make up the difference between the jockey's weight and the weight the horse is supposed to carry.


A horse that is in it’s second calendar year of life and is too young to race yet.


A going description used in Ireland to describe ground that is on the soft side.

If there are any horse racing terms or abbreviations you are unsure about that aren’t covered above let us know and we will add them. Alternatively check out the Betting Terminology A-Z guide to see if it is included there.

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