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Beginners Horse Racing Terminology

How to Talk the Talk This Melbourne Cup

For a lot of us, Melbourne Cup is the one day of the year we bet on horses, or pay attention to the horses at all — let's face it, for the rest of Spring Racing Carnival we're all about the outfits. In case you want to change that, and actually have an idea of what's going on outside the marquees, here's a glossary of race day terms to help you talk the talk. Best case scenario, it will help you pick a winner, but at the very least you'll sound pretty impressive when you correctly call someone a coat-tugger. Burn!

Barriers: What they call the gates the horses come out of at the start of the race.
Birdcage: The part of the racecourse where horses are paraded before the start of a race.
Blinkers: The hood horses wear with cups around the eyes. It looks like their eyes are covered but it just restricts their vision of the other horses to help them focus on the race.
Bolted: How to describe a horse that wins by a lot.
Bookmakers/Bookies: The people licensed to place your bet.
Box Trifecta: Usually four or five horses are "boxed" in a trifecta. If three of the horses selected all finish in the first three placings, the punter collects for a winning trifecta.
Coat-Tugger: Someone who offers a punter a tip then demands a percentage of your winnings.
Colt: A male horse under three years old, that hasn't been gelded yet.
Dead Heat: A tie at the finish line between two or more horses.
Each way: This is when you have an equal amount of money on the horse for a win and for a place.
Exacta: Picking the first two horses in a race in the finishing order.
Extended: How to describe a horse running at top speed.
False Favourite: What you'd call a horse that's picked as the favourite but you think shouldn't be the favourite.
Favourite: The most popular horse in betting and therefore the one who starts at the shortest odds i.e. the one that will pay the least.
Filly: A female horse three years old or under.
Gelding: Castrated male horse.
Grew Another Leg: A fun thing to say about a horse that suddenly improved during the race.
Hoop: Another name for a Jockey.
Knuckled: The horse that almost fell on its knees or stumbled.
Late Scratching: A horse that is withdrawn from the race after 8 a.m. on race day.
Lay: When a bookmaker offers better odds on a horse they think won't win.
Length: A horse's length from nose to tail.
Maiden: A horse who has not won a race.
Mare: Adult female horse four years of age or older.
Moral: What you'd call an absolute certainty to win the race.
Mounting Yard: The area where the horses are paraded right before a race and jockeys get on.
Mudlark: A horse that does well on wet tracks.
Mug Punter: Someone who's bad at betting.
Nose: The smallest measuring margin between horses. If a horse wins by a nose, it was an incredibly close race.
Odds-Against: The prices in the betting ring are longer than even money (e.g. $4 for $1 invested).
Odds On: Odds of less than even money.
Photo Finish: A result so close they need to use the finish-line camera to determine the winner.
Pig-Root: When the horse bucks trying to throw off the jockey.
Place: When your horse comes either first, second or third and you receive a dividend.
Punter: Person placing a bet.
Quadrella: When you select the winner of for pre-nominated races on the card.
Quinella: Select the first two horses in a race in any order.
Runner: What you call a horse in the race.
Scratched: A runner that's to be taken out of the race.
Silks: The jacket and cap worn by jockeys to identify themselves.
Stallion: A male horse used for breeding i.e. not gelded.
Stayer: A horse that races in long distance races — 2,000 metres and more.
Stewards: Racing officials responsible for enforcing the rules — basically the referees.
Stone Motherless: How to describe the horse that comes last in the race.
Trifecta: A wager selecting the first three runners of a race.
Wager: A bet.
Yearling: A young horse, typically two years old.

Get more race day terminology here.

Image Source: Getty
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