Term Guide To The Horse Races

The horse racing world is awash with its phrases and terminology which can be confusing to the new racegoer, sports bettor or TV spectator. But once you get to grips with all horse racing terms and language of the track, you’ll soon be speaking the lingo like a seasoned pro. To help you get ahead, we’ve put together the key trackside jargon in our handy A-Z term guide to the horse races.  

Accumulator – this involves more than one horse and race and is also known as a combination bet. You need to select a horse in each of several consecutive races, with any win in the first race used as a bet on the next race and so on. All selections must be successful (ie. placed) to get a winning return. 

Each way bet – this is where you place a wager on a horse to win or be placed in the same bet. It means one half of the stake is to win, the rest is on the horse to place in the top three. If you win, you collect a return on both parts of the bet, but if you place, you lose the win part and see a return at a fraction of the win odds. 

Flat – one of the two types of races, a flat race is on turf, with no hurdles or jumps. The flat season is typically from March to November and distances range from a minimum of five furlongs (around 1,000m) to two miles, six furlongs. 

Form – this is a summary of a horse’s recent performance over the last year or season. The form includes recent places and wins, as well as any failures to place, falls or refusals and is used by sports bettors to assess which horse or horses to back. 

Handicap – this is a race where all the horses are allocated a certain weight to carry, to even up the chances of winning by creating a fair race. Around 80% of races are handicap races.

National Hunt – also known as a jump race, National Hunt is where race horses also need to navigate hurdles or jumps (chases) as they race. National Hunt races are longer than flat races, ranging from two to just over four miles. 

Odds – these are used as a forecast to help you choose a horse to bet on. The shorter the odds, eg. 2-1, the better the theoretical chances a horse has at winning, but the return on your stake will be lower. The longer the odds, the less chance the horse has at winning, but if they do, your return will be higher. 

Treble – a type of accumulator bet where you make three selections (also known as a three-fold) but all three horses must-win for the bet to be successful. 

Tricast – this bet ups the ante in a single race as the sports bettor needs to predict which three horses will come first, second and third. These bets can usually only be placed if there are at least eight horses in the race, but bettors can also choose to place bets to cover all potential placing possibilities for their selected three horses. This is known as a combination tricast.