Below you will find a a list of common terms, used throughout National Hunt racing, alongside their definitions. (This list is not definitive.)


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A weight concession the horse is given to compensate for its rider's inexperience.
A non-professional rider who can be identified on any racecard as their title Mr, Mrs, Ms, Captain etc appears in front of their name.
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A horse that is not fully mature, or will improve for the run.
This is a type of hood that fits over a horse's head to prevent the horse from seeing sideways and helps it concentrate its attention ahead during a race. A visor is an alternative type of blinker.
Blown Up
When a horse starts to drop out of contention in a race due to lack of fitness.
The informal term for a flat race for jump horses, in which they gain racing experience before going hurdling or chasing.
Clerk of the Course
The person responsible for the overall management of a racecourse during the raceday.
Shirts or 'silks' worn by jockeys to identify a horse to a particular owner.
A young jockey tied to a trainer whilst gaining race-riding experience. When racing against professional jockeys Conditionals often receive weight concessions to compensate for their relative inexperience.
The make-up of a race, as in the number of runners, the ground conditions, if it's a sharp or a galloping track, etc. Different conditions suit the physique and running style of different horses.
Term used to refer to a horse's jockey, trainer and owner.
Course Specialist
A horse that tends to run well at a particular track.
Cut in the ground
A description of the ground condition, when there is give in the surface, also called 'soft going'.
The mother of a horse.
The length of a race. It can also refer to the margin by which a horse wins or is beaten. This used to range from 'a nose' to 'a distance' (which was in excess of 30 lengths) although new technology means that large margins are measured more accurately.
A flat racing term referring to a horses' position in the starting stalls.  The draw is decided by random ballot the day before the race.
The horse with the shortest odds for a race.
Term for the runners in a race.
A female horse aged four years old or younger.
A horse's race record. Denoted by figures next to its name in a racecard e.g. 1=1st, 2=2nd etc.
The measure of distance used for all flat races in the British Isles. One Furlong equates to 220 yards and there are eight furlongs in a mile.
A male horse that has been castrated.
Get the trip
Usually said of a horse that stays the particular distance of the race.
The official description of the state of the ground. This can range from heavy to firm, with variants in between.
A horse is described as "green" or "running green" when he or she shows signs of inexperience.
Hacked up
When a horse has won easily.
A unit of four inches used to measure a horses' height at the shoulder.

Probably the single most important term used in racing. After it has raced a few times and been adequately assessed a horse is awarded a handicap mark that allows it to be compared to all other horses under that code (horses can have different handicap marks for turf, all-weather, chase and hurdles races). A horse's handicap figure is then adjusted by the official handicappers judged on its subsequent racing performances.

The mark a horse receives relates to the weight it carries in handicap races – the idea being that if all horses perform to their handicap mark on the day they will all dead heat for first place. For example, if a colt is allotted a mark of 94 (130 is the mark of a top-class horse on the flat, over jumps it is nearer 180) and he wins a race, the handicapper may give him a 5lb rise meaning next time he runs his mark is 99 and so on. Remember this is a theoretical mark and does not relate to the physical weight a horse carries. The actual weight a horse carries is defined by the horses he races against.

As a very rough rule of thumb, 1lb equates to one Length, so if a horse wins a race by 4 Lengths, all other things being equal, he can expect his handicap mark to rise by a similar amount.

If a horse continues to run poorly, its handicap mark will eventually start to drop
Although often not quickly enough to please the Connections of that horse!
Hands and heels
Riding a horse without using a whip.
A description of a horse who is in a prominent position during a race.
Hunter chase
A race restricted to horses that have hunted during the present hunting season.
The smaller of the two obstacles in jump racing, typically about 3'6" in height.
Betting slang for the favourite of a race.
The official responsible for declaring the finishing order and declaring the Distances between runners.
A two year old flat horse, or a three year old hurdler.
The measurement used to describe the distance between horses in a finish with one Length equating to the body length of an average horse. Where a horse wins a race by a distance of less than one length, the winning margin will be described as anything from a short head (the closest of margins) to ¾ of a length.
The name given to all horses without a victory.
Female horse aged five and above.
Betting slang for £500
National Hunt
The traditional name for jumps racing.
A complaint by one jockey against another regarding breach of rules during a race.
Off the bridle
Describes a horse that is being pushed along by it's jockey, losing contact with the bit in it's mouth.
Off the pace
When a horse isn't keeping up with other horses in a race.
On the bridle
Describes a horse that is still going well in a race and still having a grip on the bit.
Open ditch
A steeplechase fence with a ditch on the take-off side.
Over the top
A horse past his peak for the season.
The speed at which a race is run. Up with the pace means close to the leaders, off the pace means some way behind.
An area at the racecourse that incorporates the pre-parade ring (where the horses are saddled), the parade ring and winner's enclosure.
When a horse's head nearly lands on the ground after jumping a fence.
An addition to a horse's weight when it has won a race after the entries for a future race have closed and therefore before the official handicapper has had a chance to reassess their handicap mark. The amount of the penalty depends on the value of the race won.
Permit holder
A trainer who is only qualified to train for members of their family.
Photo finish
Electronic photographic equipment which decides who has won in a close finish.
"To ping" is a verb often used to describe when a horse is jumping in particularly good style.
Light weight shoe (normally made of aluminium) worn by a horse for racing.
Betting slang for £25.
Pulled Up
A horse who is stopped by his jockey from carrying on in a race, often because that horse is too tired to continue. Denoted by a 'P' on the racecard.
Racing plate
Lightweight aluminium horseshoes specially fitted for racing.
When a horse stops instead of jumping over a fence. Denoted by an 'R' on the racecard.
Rule 4
Refers to a deduction made by bookmakers from winnings when a horse (priced 14/1 or less) is withdrawn and bookmakers do not get a chance to re-form the market to allow for the non-runner.  The amount of the deduction is dictated by the price of the withdrawn horse.
Run free
A horse going too fast too early, which then can't settle into the race.
Teaching a horse to race or jump. A "well-schooled" horse is less likely to show signs of inexperience or "greenness".
A horse is said to have scope if it is likely to improve with age and as it grows into its frame.
Spread a plate
When a racing plate or horseshoe comes off, sometimes causing delay to the start of a race as the horse is re-shod.
A horse which shortens dramatically in the betting.
Starting Price
The official odds of a horse at which winning bets are calculated in betting shops.
The father of a horse.
Horses who have a lot of stamina and are more likely to show up best over 3 miles, rather than 2 miles over jumps, and over 2 miles on the flat.
A horse race over fences, open ditches and water jumps.
The group of people responsible for ensuring adherence to the rules of racing.
Stewards' Enquiry
An investigation by the Stewards into the running of a race and any incidents of interference that may have occurred between participants.
Stiff track
A track that requires a lot of stamina, such as one with a long home straight or an uphill finish, like Cheltenham.
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A race where there is only one participant
Weigh in/out
Weighing the jockey before and after the race to make sure the horse carried the right weight. The 'weighed in' announcement means the result is official and all bets can be settled.
Weight cloth
A cloth with pockets for lead weights placed under the saddle.
Lead strips placed in a weight cloth to bring the jockey and tack up to the handicap weight.

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