Your Complete Guide To Horse Racing Betting Terms & Abbreviations

Horse racing is one of the top sports to bet on in the UK but it can be complex understanding all the terms and abbreviations that come with it. 

While horse racing is a relatively easy sport to bet on – all you’re required to do is pick a winner – knowing all the technical lingo can really aid your betting and ensure you really are backing the right horse.

Below you’ll find an in-depth look at horse racing terms and abbreviations alongside their meaning…

The Racecard

We’ll start with the racecard. When reading a racecard there are a large number of abbreviations and numbers found and they all represent different things whether it be form, information about the horse and further details about the racecourse and its condition.

Below you’ll find the various abbreviations broken down for you to check back on when viewing a racecard.

The Going

The going is the condition of a racetrack with various abbreviations highlighting how hard or soft it is:

  • f or fm: Firm
  • hd: Hard
  • g or gd: Good
  • s or sft: Soft
  • hy or hvy: Heavy
  • stand: Standard AW

The Horse

There are many things to note before backing a horse, whether it be how they’ve performed over similar distances in the past, to it pulling up or even what a horse is wearing.

A Horses Form:

Below you’ll find the abbreviations that offer insight into a horse’s form:

  • 1-9: Previous finishing positions
  • 0: Horse finished outside top nine in a race
  • : An indicator of the turn of a year
  • / : Separation of seasons.
  • P: Horse pulled up in a race and wasn’t able to finish.
  • F: Horse fell in the race
  • R: Horse refused to race or wouldn’t take a fence.
  • U: Horse unseated the rider during the race.
  • BD: Horse was brought down during the race.

Horse Information:

Below you’ll find the abbreviations which represents whether a horse has raced over similar distances or on the same courses before:

  • C: Horse has won on the same course before.
  • D: Horse has won over the same distance before.
  • CD: Horse has won a race over the same course and distance.
  • OR: Horse’s official rating supplied by the BHA.
  • BF: Horse has previously been a favourite but was beaten.

Horse Headgear:

This lets punters know of any headgear a horse will be wearing during the race.

  • h: Hood
  • b: Blinkers
  • v: Visor
  • e: Eye hood
  • t: Tongue-tie
  • p: Cheekpieces
  • Ht: Hood and tongue-tie.
  • e/c: Eyecover
  • e/s: Eyeshield

The Race

There will be an indication of what sort of race you are betting on with a number of abbreviations reflecting this, including:

  • AW: All Weather
  • Ch: Chase
  • Cls: Class
  • Div: Divisional
  • Gd: Grade 1, 2 or 3 in jump racing
  • Gp: Group 1, 2 or 3 in flat racing
  • Hcap: Handicap
  • H: Hurdle
  • List: Listed
  • Mdn: Maiden
  • NHF: National Hunt Flat
  • Nov: Novice

Horse Racing Terms

Below you’ll find a number of common terms used in horse racing betting, alongside their definition.


This is a bet on a race that is taking place in the future and the full confirmation of runners and riders hasn’t yet been submitted.

Broke Down

This means that a horse has suffered an injury during the race and didn’t finish.

Brought Down

Brought down is when a horse falls as a result of another horse bringing it down. This often occurs following the jumping of a fence.


Blinkers are a piece of headgear a horse will wear to alter the vision of a horse and ensure they are only looking forward. This is to avoid them being distracted by the field and crowds around it.

Boxed In

Boxed in is a term used across many racing sports and essentially means a horse has been trapped in by other horses and is unable to pull out and overtake.

Back Straight

This is the straight of the racecourse on the far side of the grandstand. 


Classic races are among the more prestigious in the UK and involve five flat races held across the season. You will likely have heard of most of these:

  • 2,000 Guineas
  • 1,000 Guineas
  • The Oaks
  • Epsom Derby
  • St Leger

Three of the Classics also make up the Triple Crown, which are the 2,000 Guineas, the Epsom Derby and the St Leger.


Distance is a term often used to describe the length in which a horse has won.


A horse’s mother.


The maternal grandfather of a horse.


A type of wager that involves you betting on a horse to win or place. Half of your stake goes on the To Win market, with the other half on To Place. If the horse wins, both sections of your bet pay out. If it only places you lose the To Win stake but earn winnings on the To Place aspect.

Flat Racing

A form of racing that doesn’t include fences, jumps or ditches and is ran over flat ground.


A measure in horse racing. It’s exact measure is 220 yards.


The horse most likely to win according to what the bookmakers are saying.


A young female horse. The age of the horse is under the age of four.


The going of a race track is essentially a description of its condition. 


A handicap is given to a horse in a number of races. This essentially involves giving them weights dependent on how they are rated.


A juvenile is the name of a horse that is under the age of two-years-old.


The name to describe a female horse that is five-years-old or older.

Non Runner

Non runners are horses that originally appeared to be racing but pulled out. Betting apps will regularly offer non runner no bet offers which mean you will receive your stake back should the horse no longer be running.

National Hunt

National Hunt is the type of racing found in the UK that involves fences and jumps. The season takes place in the winter and spring when the ground is softer, with the Cheltenham Gold Cup and Grand National being among the most famous National Hunt Races.


A Stallion is the name of a male breeding horse.

Starting Price (SP)

The Starting Price (or SP) is the odds of a horse when it is on the start line. Best odds guaranteed will compare the SP against the odds you bet on and pay out the best odds should you win.


The stallion which fathered the horse.


The trainer is the person or team behind the training and day-to-day caring for a racehorse.