Horse racing is a fascinating sport populated with a whole lot of jargon that can make it seem mysterious and intimidating to the first-time spectator or bettor.

To help cut through the mystery, here’s a horse racing jargon buster to clarify the meaning of some of the most commonly used horse racing terms.

Horse Racing betting
  • Abandoned – This means the race has been called off, usually due to weather conditions. All bets placed are refunded.
  • Accumulator bet – This is a type of multiple bet in which any winnings are rolled over to the next bet. All bets placed must come in for the bettor to win.
  • AWT – All weather terrain, a synthetic track that can be run in any weather.
  • Book – Record of all bets placed on a race.
  • Bookmaker or Bookie – The company or person licensed to take bets.
  • Classic – An historic group of flat races run by three-year-olds.
  • Colours – The silks or jacket and hat worn by the jockey to help spectators identify him/her.
  • Conditions race – A type of race where horses are assigned extra weight according to their previous win record.
  • Dead heat – When two horses finish simultaneously to win the race. Half the stake on any bets is paid out at full odds with the other half lost.
  • Dividend – The amount the bettor receives for every £1 of a winning bet.
  • Draw – The starting position in the stalls in a flat race.
  • Each-way bet – A bet in which half the total stake is placed at full odds to win and the other half at fractional odds to place (come in the top three, four or five depending on the number of horses racing).
  • Evens – Odds of 1/1. The winning bettor receives £1, plus his £1 stake back for every £1 bet.
  • Favourite – The horse with shortest odds (most likely to win).
  • Flat racing – Racing a course without jumps or obstacles.
  • Furlong – A measurement of racecourse. One furlong is 220m.
  • Going – The condition of the track, ranging from heavy to firm.
  • Handicap – A race in which horses are assigned a certain weight to carry to make the race more even.
  • Hurdles – Obstacles on a jump course which are smaller than fences.
  • Length – A measurement unit of about 8 feet or approximately the length of one horse. You might hear a horse is four lengths ahead, for example.
  • National Hunt – The official name of jumps racing.
  • Nonrunner – A horse which has been withdrawn from a race.
  • Nose – Officially the smallest distance a horse can win a race by.
  • Odds – The chances of a horse winning.
  • Outsider – A horse that is unlikely to win with long odds.
  • Racecard – The programme of racing for the day.
  • Starting price – The final odds as the race begins.
  • Steeplechase – Racing over jumps.
  • Under starters’ orders – The moment all horses are ready and the race is about to start.
  • Weighing in/out – Before and after every race each jockey in full gear and carrying their saddle is weighed to make sure they are carrying the right weight.

There are many more horse racing words but with this list you should be able to understand enough to enjoy the day and have a little flutter.