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Horse racing betting terminology explained

If you are planning your first trip to a horse racing event, you will probably want to have a flutter; after all, it adds to the fun of the day. However, it might feel as if the people around you are speaking a foreign language with all the jargon that they use to discuss racing and betting.

Get up to speed with them by reading this guide to horse racing betting terminology. This will make sure that you understand and can participate in the day more and, hopefully, it will help you back some winners. 


This is the person you need to speak to if you want to place a bet. Don’t worry, bookmakers are positioned all around the circuit and they are also available online. 


This means that a horse that was expected to take part in the race, didn’t. This can happen for a variety of reasons. Don’t worry if you put a bet on the horse, as your money should be refunded. 

Rule 4

If there is a non-runner in a race but you had bet on a different one, then your bet will be subject to rule 4. This means that if the non-runner was expected to do well and it is believed that your horse won because the non-runner didn’t participate, your winnings will be lower than you thought they would. This is because the probability of winning has changed after you placed your bet. 


A length is the term used to describe the size of the horse from nose to tail. You may hear that a horse won by 10 lengths, for example. That means that it was the length of ten horses ahead of the next competitor at the end of the race. Smaller parts of a horse such as a nose, neck, or head are sometimes used to denote closer distances.


This refers to a tie when it can’t be decided which horse was in front at the finish line. The two horses will be declared in joint first place and the horse that came next will be deemed to be in 3rd place. 

Starting price

This is sometimes abbreviated to SP, and it refers to the odds on a horse before the race started. Invariably this will be the amount you are paid out on if it wins. 

Each way

This is a safer way to bet if you are a beginner or don’t want to take too much risk. You have a higher chance of a pay-out because the horse can finish 1st, 2nd, or 3rd rather than having to finish 1st for you to make some money.

However, because the chance of you getting a pay-out is higher, the amount you will be paid is lower as the bookmaker is taking more of a risk by accepting the bet. 


This is a term the bookies use to signify the bet they are the most confident about. 


An accumulator is a type of bet. It involves betting on several races at the same time. This is quite a risky bet but if all your horses win, the pay-out can be a lot bigger. Betfred Cheltenham betting offers some great accumulation betting odds such as a double, treble, fourfold, and even a fivefold bet.


These are two types of the same sort of bet. A forecast is when you bet on the horses that will come first and second and a tricast means that you are betting on 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place. This is quite a risk, but if you get it right, your winnings will be bigger. 

You can reduce the risk by betting on three horses to come 1st, 2nd, and 3rd but not specifying what order they will come in. This is called a reverse forecast or a combination tricast. 


This means that the bets are placed before the race day. This can be done online or at a bookmaker’s shop. 


This is when you bet on a horse to place in the first six races. You are paid out your share of a pool of money so it depends on how many other people bet as to how large your winnings will be. 

Hopefully, this guide has helped you to understand all the important betting terms. Now all you need to do is go to the races and back some winners.

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