Australian and British Racing Terminology

Racing Terms can be confusing. Know your stalls from your paddock? Or confused by a pulling sure thing? Don’t worry, the UK’s leading data and content provider Timeform has produced a handy guide for the Betfair Hub to make sure that you can understand exactly what is going on when watching or betting on UK and Irish racing.

Race Distances

The first thing to remember is that UK and Irish racing still deals in yards, furlongs and miles. Below is a useful table for working out the distances of races:

1 yard = 0.9144 meters

1 furlong = 220 yards = 201.168 meters

1 mile = 8 furlongs = 1609.344 meters

Placing Those Bets

Once you’ve got your head around converting the race distances from imperial to metric, the same is needed for your bets. The majority of UK and Irish racing still deals with fractions when it comes to the price of horses, although the Tote – their equivalent of the TAB – and the Betfair Exchange in the UK both use decimals to express odds.

Remember, an ante-post bet in the UK and Ireland is a bet in a futures market, while what we know as an exacta, a quinella and a trifecta become a straight forecast, a reverse forecast and a tricast. A springer in the market is a firmer, while one that eases is a drifter, and your moral becomes a sure thing, or a dead cert.


Now it’s time to work out the lingo used when doing your form study. While Australia has 10 recognised ratings for the going, the UK has six: firm, good to firm, good, good to soft (known as yielding in Ireland), soft, and heavy. Other notable differences when it comes to terminology is that colts and fillies in the UK and Ireland are aged four years or younger, while a mare in the UK and Ireland is any female horse aged five or older.

Race Time

Finally, it’s race time. Barriers become stalls, with behind the barriers known as horses being at the post in the UK and Ireland. During the race itself, your horse might attempt to make all (lead throughout), be pulling (overracing) or on the bridle (under double wraps), but hopefully not hampered (checked), boxed in (snookered) or tailed off (stone motherless).


Check out the list of useful terminology changes below and head over to the UK and Irish horse racing markets to place your winning bets.

UK/Irish TerminologyAustralian Terminology
AbsenceSpell (63 days or more between runs)
AccumulatorAus terminology: All Up
Act: Horse acts on soft groundHorse handles/gets through soft ground/wet tracks
Ante-postPre-post/Futures markets
Around the housesVia the cape (a horse that runs wide around the turn and covers a lot of extra ground)
Asked for an effortUnder pressure
At The PostBehind the barriers
Boxed InSnookered
Change of tacticsRidden upside down (generally used in a negative sense regarding a horse being ridden incorrectly, ie, a natural leader who was instead settled last by the rider.) A change of tactics is official notification by connections to stewards pre-race they intend on riding their horse differently
Colt: Ungelded male horse below five years of ageColt is an ungelded male horse below four years of age
Covering feeService fee
DrivenHard ridden
Easing oddsDrifter (a horse whose price drifts in the market – ie 2/1 fav drifts out to 4/1
Filly: Female horse four years or youngerFemale horse three years or younger
From out of the cloudsJumped out of the ground
Go through the cardRide or train the program.
Hung left/hung right Hung in (hang toward the rail), Hung out (hang away from rail) – depends on whether racing clockwise or anticlockwise
Jockey/trainer ChampionshipJockey/trainer Premiership
Level weightsWeight For Age/Set Weights
Made allLed throughout
Mare: Female horse aged five years or olderFemale horse aged four years or older
On the bridleUnder double wraps
PaddockMounting yard
Rank outsiderRoughie
Reverse forecastQuinella
Shortening odds/Springer/SteamerFirmer
Stalls handlerBarrier attendant
Straight ForecastExacta
Sure thingMoral
Tailed offStone motherless
Weighed inCorrect weight
Welter burdenImpost

Related Articles

Data and Interpretation – Timeform

The first three articles in this mini-series, looking at the differences between Australian and British racing, as well as race tactics and ...

Understanding Race Tactics – Riding Style

Aside from the jockey’s overall strike rates, outlined in the first article in this series, it is also important ...

UK Racing Strategies – Top Trainers And Jockeys

The phrase ‘horses for courses’ is often heard around Irish and UK racing when discussing those horses which run ...