This glossary covers all technical racing terms used across our site as well as other commonly used terms. We also highly recommend the Great British Racing’s Jargon Buster for racing beginners looking to learn more. Commonly-used abbreviations found on the standard racecard can also be found in this helpful guide.
Please note that all Timeform abbreviations which may feature on a horse’s vital statistics page can be found on Timeform’s website.
All thoroughbreds have their birthdays on 1 January.
All-Weather (AWT or AW)
An artificial racing surface. There are five all-weather racetracks in Britain (Chelmsford, Kempton, Lingfield, Southwell, Wolverhampton) and one in Ireland (Dundalk), and they stage race meetings throughout the summer and winter. There are three types of surface – Fibresand, Polytrack and Tapeta.
Apprentice Jockeys are professionals at the start of their professional careers in flat racing. When they receive their license, apprentices are able to make claims to receive weight allowances for their inexperience. As they have more winners, the weight claim will be reduced from 7lb to 5lb and finally 3lb until they lose their right to claim and become like any other professional jockey. See also Conditional Jockey.
A horse that is either too young or not fully fit.
Covers a huge range of the colour brown, from bright bay through to dark bay, which is basically black. Bay horses have black manes and tails.
A purely black horse.
This is the metal attachment of the bridle that is placed in a horse’s mouth. The bit helps the jockey to direct the horse to slow down and to move left and right.
Term used by the bloodstock industry to denote a horse that has won or been placed in a Pattern/Listed race. Horses ‘going for black type’ are attempting to win or be placed in a Pattern/Listed race to improve their breeding value.
A form of headgear worn by the horse, consisting of a hood with cups around the eyes. They are used to limit a horse’s vision and reduce distractions, with the aim of making it concentrate. A horse wearing blinkers is denoted on a racecard by a small b next to the horse’s weight (b1 indicates that the horse is wearing blinkers in a race for the first time).
Type of auction, usually for two-year-olds, at which the horses for sale run for a short distance to allow prospective buyers to assess them.
Mare kept at stud for breeding, and not usually raced, although likely to have done so when younger.
A horse registered as Brown will also have a brown mane and tail.
An abbreviation for beaten, this would appear on the review of a race.
A Flat race run under Jump Rules, used to educate young prospective jumps horses before they tackle hurdles or fences. Officially called National Hunt Flat Race.
Chase Fence (Fence)
These are the larger obstacles jumped in National Hunt races. There are three types of chase fence; a plain fence, an open ditch and a water jump. These fences are made of birch and are a minimum of 4ft 6 high. Races such as the Grand National and Cheltenham Gold Cup - which are two of the biggest - are races run over fences.
Strips of sheepskin that are attached to the side of a horse’s bridle. They partially obscure a horse’s rear vision, with the aim of getting the horse to concentrate on racing. Horses wearing cheekpieces are denoted on a racecard by a small p next to the weight the horse is set to carry.
A reddish or ginger coat colour, with a mane and tail to match.
The jacket (‘silks’) worn by the jockey to identify a horse. A horse runs in its owner’s colours which are registered with Weatherbys. The colours to be worn by each jockey are shown on racecards.
A male horse or pony under 4 years of age that has not been gelded (castrated).
A Conditional jockey (‘conditional’) is a professional at the start of his/her professional career in jump racing. When they receive their license, conditionals are able to make claims to receive weight allowances for their inexperience. As they have more winners, the weight claim will be reduced from 7lb to 5lb and finally 3lb until they lose their right to claim and become like any other professional jockey. See also Apprentice Jockey.
A race in which horses are allotted extra weight according to factors including sex, age, whether they are a previous winner etc. This is a better-class race for horses just below Group or Listed level.
Cut in the ground
A description of the ground condition where the racing surface has been softened by rain.
Mother of a horse.
The sire of a broodmare; in human terms, the maternal grandfather of a horse.
Horses entered for a race must be ‘declared to run’ and this usually happens the day before a race. These horses comprise the final field for each race which appears on the day of the race in newspapers and in racecards. At this stage a trainer must also ‘declare’ the jockey who will ride the horse and any equipment (e.g. blinkers) the horse will carry – this information also appears on racecards in newspapers and at the racecourse.
A horse confirmed to start in a race at the final declarations stage.
A horse’s starting position in the stalls allotted in races on the Flat. Stall numbers are drawn at random by Weatherbys (except in a handful of top races that allow each horse’s connections, having been randomly selected, to choose the stall number for their horse). A horse with a seemingly advantageous draw is said to be “well drawn”. Stalls are used for Flat racing only.
A horse that is a dual purpose type will run both in flat races and national hunt races.
The decision to enter a horse into a race is usually made by the trainer, although it is possible for owners to make entries themselves. Entries for races generally close five or six days in advance of the race, unless they are for a major race, in which case entries may close weeks in advance. Once the entries have been accepted, a list of the intended runners is published.
An abbreviation for equipment.
A female horse or pony under 4 years of age.
Racing without jumping an obstacle. The main flat season runs from the end of March to the start of November and races vary in distance from 5 furlongs to 2 miles 6 furlongs. Flat racing can take place either on grass or on an all weather surface.
A male horse or pony of any age that has been gelded (castrated).
Used to describe an immature or inexperienced horse.
Ranging from bright white to steel-coloured grey.
Group / Graded races
These races form the upper tier of the racing structure, with Group/Grade 1 the most important, followed by Group/Grade 2 and Group/Grade 3. Group races are run on the Flat; Graded races are run over jumps.
Theses are the smaller of the obstacles jumped during National Hunt races. They are three and a half feet high, made of birch or plastic and give way to the horse easily. Horses generally start racing over hurdles before progressing to fences.
An abbreviation for Timeform’s In-Play Symbols. These are a set of symbols which refer to comments about a horse’s characteristic running style - e..g a horse that tends to run prominently, but pulls hard would generate a IPS of 2p. A full list of Timeform In-Play symbols can be found here.
A two-year-old horse. Every horse officially turns two on January 1, at the start of the second full calendar year following its birth.
The youngest category of hurdler – juvenile hurdlers are those that turn four years of age (on January 1) during the season in which they start hurdling.
A leased horse means that the legal owner has chosen to lease the horse to a lessee(s) for an agreed period of time. The lessee may be an individual, group or company. During this period, all costs incurred are the responsibility of the lessee. The lessee may become the ‘registered owner’ with the BHA during this period, which will also enable the horse to run in the registered owner’s colours. See registered owner for more information.
A female horse or pony that is 4 years or older.
Also known as “jump racing”, National Hunt is a category of racing that has its main season from Autumn to Spring. Within National Hunt there are several types of races including hurdle races, Steeplechase Races (or Chases) and bumpers. Hurdles and Steeplechase races involve the jumping of an obstacle whilst bumpers do not.
Off the bridle
Describes a horse being pushed along and losing contact with the bit in its mouth.
On the bridle
Describes a horse running comfortably, still having a bite on the bit. A horse that wins ‘on the bridle’ is regarded as having won easily.
This is an abbreviation for Official Rating which is also known as a handicap mark. This is a measure of a horse’s performance and indicates their ability in comparison to other horses. Once a horse has run in two races it will be awarded an OR by a BHA handicapper. This mark may change dependent on subsequent race performances. For more information on the BHA’s handicapping, please read here.
There are many types of ownership, including Sole Ownership, Partnerships and Syndicates. The legal owner of a horse may be an individual, group of individuals or company. In a Syndicate, a group of people can own a horse or multiple horses together, without having to register as sole owners in their own right with the BHA.
Two or more registered owners that own a horse or multiple horses together.
The number of times a horse has been placed (i.e. second and third place). Fourth place is also included in races with more than 16 runners.
The racecard provides the programme and times of the day’s racing, including information on the runners and riders for each race.
Race Type can include Flat, including All Weather (AWT), and National Hunt, which includes Chase (c), Hurdle (h) and Bumper (b) (officially known as National Hunt Flat Race).
A group of people coming together to experience the thrill of racehorse ownership. The club manager is responsible for the racing club, but unlike in a syndicate, members of a racing club do not own the horses. Instead members are likely to pay a subscription in order to enjoy some of the benefits of racehorse ownership.
There are around 14,000 registered owners in Great Britain ranging from royalty to small syndicates and racing partnerships. Becoming a registered owner will enable you to set up a Syndicate or Racing Club or join a Partnership as a Partner. The criteria to register as an owner is detailed in the BHA’s Guidance Notes, which registrants must read before applying. Weatherbys undertake the registration of owners on behalf of BHA and those wishing to can apply online. Registered owners can design and register their own racing colours with Weatherbys, which can be worn by the jockey (known as the jockey’s ‘silks’) when the horse races.
A Roan horse has an even mixture of white hairs mixed in with another colour.
The number of races the horse has run in.
Father of a horse.
People who own a horse or multiple horses outright.
An abbreviation for starting price. This means the betting odds at the time that the horse began the race.
A group of people who own a horse or multiple horses together, but who do not have to be sole owners in their own right. The ownership is managed and set up by a Syndicate Manager (or Syndicator) who is responsible for the syndicate.
Timefigures (TFIG) measure the performance of horses, not on their form against others, but in terms of time, in seconds (per five furlongs) faster or slower than a certain fixed standard. TFIG is a computer-generated assessment which takes into account a number of factors, including track differences, race distances, ages of the horses concerned, weight-for-age, weights carried, the state of the track surface and direction of prevailing wind. The method used is unique to Timeform. For more information on TFIG, please read this guide here.
The Timeform Master Rating (TFR) is a considered assessment of the merit of a horse on form, which accumulates gradually over the course of many races. Early assessments are likely to be tentative to a degree and more than usually subject to revision. To read more about how Timeform handicaps horses, please see here.
The person responsible for looking after a horse and preparing it to race. A trainer must hold a license or permit to be entitled to train.
Every horse officially turns two on January 1, at the start of the second full calendar year following its birth e.g. a horse born in 2008 will turn two on January 1, 2010. Two-year-old horses are also known as juveniles, and this is the first age at which horses are allowed to compete on the Flat (the youngest racing age over jumps is three years old).
The number of races the horse had won.