Your Ultimate Guide to Racing Lingo

Lauren Powell

You’ve purchased your frock, matched your heels, selected your headwear, studied the form guide (read: circled your favourite names), but do you know your racing lingo to see you through Melbourne Cup today, or are you preparing to nod convincingly in silence during every racing-related conversation? Enter: Tabcorp’s resident media presenter Jaimee Rogers. Rogers, a regular on the racing scene, has compiled a list of phrases so you know your maidens from your morals the next time you’re perusing the mounting yard. Consider this your glossary of racing terms—so you can impress every keen punter you cross paths with during the race that stops a nation. Scroll on to find out how to talk the talk this racing season.

Barriers: The gates the horses come out of at the start of the race.

Birdcage: The exclusive enclosure at Flemington Racecourse during the Melbourne Cup Carnival.

Box: When you “box” runners in a bet, you cover all possible combinations for the finishing order.

Dead Heat: A tie at the finish line between two or more horses.

Dividend: The amount of money paid to a punter when their bet is successful.

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 exact finishing order.

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.

Hoop: Another name for a jockey.

Wager: A bet.

Late Scratching: A horse that is withdrawn from the race after 8 a.m. on race day.

Maiden: A horse who has not won a race.

Maiden race: A race for horses that are yet to win a race.

Moral: What you'd call an absolute certainty to win a race.

Mounting Yard: The area where the horses are paraded right before a race and where jockeys mount the horses.

Odds Against: The odds for a bet are longer than even money (e.g. $4 for $1 invested).

Odds On: Odds of less than even money.

Pari-mutuel betting: A form of betting whereby all bets of the same type (ie. all “win” bets) go into a pool and the dividend for each horse is determined by the total pool size at the time when the race jumps, it’s then divided by the number of winning bets. This is also called tote betting.
Photo Finish: A result so close they need to use the finish-line camera to determine the winner.

Place: When your horse comes either first, second, or third. If you have put on a “place” bet you will receive a dividend.

Punter: A person placing a bet.

Quaddie: When you select the winner of four pre-nominated races on the card. Normally the last four races of the day.

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 was nominated to race, but has been taken out of the race.

Silks: The jacket and cap worn by jockeys to identify themselves.

Stayer: A horse that races in long distance races—2,000 metres and more. Melbourne Cup horses are stayers.

TAB: Traditionally stands for the totalisator betting board. TABs can be found in stand-alone agencies, licenced venues and on track. TAB operators can take your bet for both fixed odds (a set price) and tote betting (see pari-mutuel betting).

Trifecta: A wager selecting the first three runners of a race in the correct order.

Wager: A bet.

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