Horse Racing Betting Terms

Horse racing has some bizarre, complex and unique terms that you will hear and read about on a daily basis if you're a fan of the sport. Here we tell you what it all means...

  • Some of Horse Racing's most used terms explained

  • Learn about bet types, tic-tac and much more

  • Read our in-depth jargon buster below


When it comes to betting, no sport has its own jargon more than Horse Racing.

From an Acca to a Yankee (we can't think of a term that starts with Z), taking in Burlington Bertie and a Steamer, racing is full of weird and wacky terminology that you'll hear and read on a daily basis.

But what does it all mean? Fear not, we have you covered with our in-depth jargon buster below.


Accumulator (Acca)

In simple terms an accumulator is a bet consisting of at least two selections (legs) where all parts of the bet must be successful to secure a payout, with the winnings from the first part of the acca rolling onto the next part and so on.

However, a bet containing just two selections is referred to as a double, while three selections is called a treble, so the term Accumulator or Acca usually refers to a bet that contains at least four selections.

All-Weather

The name given to the artificial surface used for some Flat raciing. All-weather surfaces are used all-year round because of their ability to be able to cope with all extremes of weather.

Ante-post

A betting market that appears well in advance of a race's scheduled start time, often meaning you can get bigger odds about your selection.

Back

A 'back' bet on a horse means you're backing that horse to either win or place if it's an each-way bet.

Banker

A horse that is very likely to win, or a horse that is by far your strongest selection if backing more than one, is considered to be a banker.

Bar

The lowest odds for the horses not mentioned or quoted in a betting market - for example '25/126.00 bar' means those not quoted are 25/126.00 or bigger.

Best Odds Guaranteed or BOG

A special offer whereby a bookmaker will settle your bet at the starting price (SP) if it is greater than the early price you took when placing your bet.

Betting Exchange

A platform through which gamblers can bet directly against each other on a peer-to-peer betting network, rather than a bookmaker. Betting exchanges like the Betfair Exchange allow lay bets to be made, as well as win and place bets, meaning that gamblers can bet on hores to lose.

Bookmaker

A bookmaker is the organisation that provides odds on the outcome of horse races in order to accept bets based on predictions by customers.

Bottle

Tic-tac term for odds of 2/13.00.

Burlington Bertie

Tic-tac term for odds of 100/304.30.

Canadian

A popular form of bet consisting of five different horses in five different races, making up 26 bets (10 x doubles, 10 x trebles, 5 x four-folds and 1x five-fold). At least two horses must win to guarantee a return.

Carpet

Tic-tac term for odds of 3/14.00.

Cash Out

The process of taking a payout offered by your bookmaker before the full completion of the bet.

Dead Heat

When two or more horses cross the winning line at exactly the same time a dead heat is declared the result, meaning both (or all) horses are deemed the winner.

Dividend

The amount that a winning bet returns for every £1 staked. This is a term most often associated with Tote pools.

Double

A bet that contains just two horses in two different races whereby both horses must win to guarantee a return.

Double Carpet

Tic-tac term for odds of 33/134.00.

Drifter

A horse that is regularly getting bigger in price (its odds are lengthening) is referred to as a drifter.

Dutching

Dutching is the process of splitting your total stake to back a number of selections for a particular event, in order to ensure the same amount of profit if any of your selections win.

Each-Way

An each-way bet is available in horse races that feature a winner and a number of other horses finishing in a sequence of places.

The bet involves a single selection but is comprised of two bets: a 'win bet' and a 'place bet'. The same horse is thereby backed to win the event at set odds, and backed to finish within a range of places at different odds. The each-way bet will provide a payout if either part of the bet proves successful.

Ear'ole

Tic-tac term for odds of 6/42.50.

Evens

Evens is the betting term used for a 50/50 shot in a race, in that it realistically should have a 50% chance of winning and a 50% chance of losing. A successful evens bet will return double the stake placed on the bet. Odds will be displayed as 1/12.00 (fractional) or 2.01/1 (decimal).

Favourite

The shortest priced horse in the race, the market leader.

Fell (F)

Signified by a letter F in a form line, fell means that a horse tripped up, or didn't clear an obstacle in jump racing.

Flat

The code of racing whereby all races are contested on a 'flat' surface with no obstacles to jump. The Flat season usually runs from early spring to late autumn, though flat racing on an all-weather surface takes place all year round.

Flip-flop

When a favourite in a race drifts in price and/or the second favourite shortens in price meaning they swap positions at the head of the market, the favourites are said to flip-flop.

Forecast

A bet consisting of two horses where both must finish first and second in the order that you predict to guarantee a return.

Gamble

A gamble is a term used for a horse that has been significantly backed, whether it be by just a small number of punters for large stakes, or by many punters for smaller stakes, resulting in the horse's odds shortening considerably.

Going

The term used to describe how soft or hard the ground is on turf racing. In the UK the going ranges from Heavy (very soft ground) to Firm (hard ground) though the latter is a going you will rarely get these days because of horse welfare and the ability for racecourses to add water to the ground to make it less firm.

Heinz

A popular form of bet consisting of six different horses in six different races, making up 57 bets (15 x doubles, 20 x trebles, 15 x four-folds, 6 x five-folds and 1 x six-fold). At least two horses must win to guarantee a return.

In the frame

A term used for a horse that finishes in one of the designated each-way places.

In-Running (In-Play)

A form of betting that has become hugely popular through online betting sites, and involves placing a bet on a horse after the racet has started but before the race concluds, hence betting In-Running. It is also referred to as In-Play, especially in sporting events other than horse racing.

Joint Favourite

If two horses have the shortest odds in the betting, they are described as joint favourites. They may also be referred to as co-favourites, but this term is generally used when at least three horses have the same price that is the shortest in the betting.

Jockey

The official name given to a rider of a horse in a horse race.

Jolly

Another term used for the favourite in a horse race.

Jumps

The code of racing whereby most races are contested on a racecourse that contains 'jumps' in the form of hurdles and fences. Officially it is called National Hunt racing, but jumps is a more commonly used term. The jumps season usually runs from mid autumn to late spring.

Lay

On a betting exchange a customer can play a lay bet, which effectively means that you're backing a horse NOT to win. Laying a horse to win a race for example means that you're betting that it doesn't win the race and therefore every other horse in the race is on your side.

Long-shot

A horse who appears to have a low chance of winning and therefore is priced at big odds, 33/134.00 for example.

Lucky 15

A popular form of bet consisting of four different horses in four different races, making up 15 bets (4 x singles, 6 x doubles, 4 x trebles and 1 x four-fold). Just one horse must win to guarantee a return.

Market Mover

A horse that significantly moves in price, either by shortening - 10/111.00 into 3/14.00 for example - or by lengthening in price - 2/13.00 out to 6/17.00. A horse that significantly shortens in price is called a postive market mover while a horse that significantly lengthens in price is classed a a negative market mover.

Monkey

Slang for £500.

Multiple

A bet that consists of at least three horses in three different races that isn't purely an accumulator. If your multiple consists of five horses for example, then you can do doubles, trebles, four-folds within that bet, hence placing multiple bets.

Nap

A 'Nap' is often used by tipsters and simply means what is, in their opinion, their strongest fancy if they have put up two or more selections.

Non-Runner

Non-Runner means that a horse that was originally due to take part in a race is no longer going to take part, hence being a non-runner.

Non-Runner Money-Back

Non-Runner Money-Back (NRMB), also known as Non-Runner No-Bet (NRNB), is a concession that bookmakers will offer on some ante-post markets and simply means that should you back a horse that doesn't take part in the race, then you will get your stake back.

Odds

Also referred to as the price. Odds are the returns a bookmaker offers for a horse to win.

Odds compiler

A person who sets the odds offered by a bookmaker for any given horse race.

Odds-against

A price where the odds are bigger than 1/12.00 (fractional) or 2.01/1 (decimal); 2/13.00 for example.

Odds-on

A price where the odds are less than 1/12.00 (fractional) or 2.01/1 (decimal); 1/21.50 for example.

On the nose

To back a horse to win only without any consideration to backing it each-way. The term is derived from the fact that to determine the winner of a horse race, the first body part of a horse used when crossing the winning line is the nose.

Outsider

A horse who is deemed to have the least chance of winning in a race and therefore has the biggest betting odds.

Overround

A percentage number that incidates a profit margin on the prices offered by a bookmaker.

Owner

The official name given to the person who is the registered owner of a racehorse, and therefore is usually responsible for paying expenses such as trainer and vet fees.

Patent

A popular form of bet consisting of three different horses in three different races, making up seven bets (3 x singles, 3 x doubles and 1 x treble). Just one horse must win to guarantee a return.

Photo Finish

When two or more horses cross the winning line in very close proximity and it's not obvious which one won, a photo finish is declared, meaning a photograph (or a digital image) is required to determine who crossed the line first.

Pillar to Post

A term used for a horse that leads all the way (from start to finish) and wins a race.

Place Bet

A place bet involves backing a selection to finish in a particular place, or within a range of places, in a horse race.

Pony

Tic-tac term for odds of 25/126.00.

Price

Also referred to as the odds. Price is the returns a bookmaker offers for a horse to win.

Pulled-Up (P)

Signified by a letter P in a form line, pulled-up means a horse was prevented from finishing a race by its jockey. This usually occurs when a horses gets injured in a race or is so far behind in a race that for its welfare it is better to pull it up rather than continue to race.

Punter

The individual or customer who places a bet.

Return

The money to be returned to the customer if a bet is successful.

Reverse Forecast

A bet consisting of two horses where both must finish first and second in any order to guarantee a return.

Reverse Tricast

A bet consisting of three horses where all must finish first, second and third in any order to guarantee a return.

Rule 4

A rule that allows a bookmaker to deduct a percentage of a customer's winnings should a horse become a non-runner AFTER the customer has backed a horse at a certain price.

Shoulder

Tic-tac term for odds of 7/42.75.

Single

The simplest of all bets and means to back just one selection, whether to win or each-way, in a particular horse race.

Starting Price or SP

The starting price is the odds for each hose at the time of a race commencing, and is used to determine the payout to a customer if they didn't take an earlier price.

Stake

The amount of money that you bet on a horse.

Steamer

Similar to a gamble, a steamer is a horse that is being backed regularly meaning a significant shortening in the price.

Tailed Off

The term used for a horse that is a huge distance behind the rest of the runners during a race, and therefore has very little or no chance of winning.

Tic-Tac

A traditional method of hand and arm signs used by bookmakers to communicate the odds of certain horses.

Tip

A selection that is put up or advertised by a respected tipster. A tip can also be valuable but not widely known information about a horse - an owner telling a friend that his horse has been training really well for example, and therefore has a good chance of winning a race.

Tips

Tic-tac term for odds of 11/102.11

Top of the head

Tic-tac term for odds of 9/43.25.

Trainer

The official name given to a person who holds a license to train horses and is therefore responsible for planning and entering horses into races.

Treble

A bet that contains three horses in three different races whereby all horses must win to guarantee a return.

Tricast

A bet consisting of three horses where all must finish first, second and third in the order that you predict to guarantee a return.

Unseated Rider (UR)

Signified by a letter U in a form line, unseated rider means a jockey came out of the saddle and fell of the horses during a race. This usually happens when a horse makes a mistake at a hurdle or fence but doesn't actually fall itself, it just unbalances the jockey resulting in an un-seat.

Void bet

A bet which is declared invalid. The stake is returned to the customer without deduction.

Wrist

Tic-tac term for odds of 5/42.25.

Yankee

A popular form of bet consisting of four different horses in four different races, making up 11 bets (6 x doubles, 4 x trebles and 1 x four-fold). At least two horses must win to guarantee a return.


Now read our Glossary of Betting Terms here.


Prices quoted in copy are correct at time of publication but liable to change.