• 05/10/2023

A Dictionary Of Horse Racing Terms – B – Part 1

A Dictionary Of Horse Racing Terms – B – Part 1

Bad Legs:

Bad Legs are a very common condition amongst racehorses

To really get to grips with what is involved when training a horse in preparation to race, we should make a comparison with the process that is undergone when training human athletes.

For example, what might have happened if Seb Coe had tried to run in the 100m?

Did you ever see Seb Coe turning up on the track without his tracksuit on, or would he have raced if he had badly injured his legs?

Horses exactly like humans have distances that they favor and are competitive at, and this is very important in deciding how a horse will fare in a race against the competition.

When sweating up before or after a race, horses have blankets thrown over them because just as humans pull muscles, strain tendons and in severe cases pull up during a race, so do horses.

Trainers get really anxious about a horses forelegs. It is these in particular that take a great deal of punishment during a race, and especially when jumping fences or when the ground is very hard.

Sometimes the condition “bad legs” can be put down to being inherited, and often it can be protected against by wearing bandages on the forelegs to provide additional support.

Betting on the rails:

Bookmakers are not allowed to make a book in the member’s enclosure on racecourses.

Many of the annual members or those who pay on the day to enter the members enclosure, do obviously want to have a bet, so to get around this problem bookmakers set up pitches right next to the rails that separate members from Tattersalls ring.

A lot of business on the rails is done on credit, but cash is usually also taken

Rails bookmakers are essential to the price shifts in a market, but they are no longer able to control the movements exclusively. This is because 90% of betting today takes place off course.

The balance of power has been disrupted by the Betting Exchanges, such as Betfair and Betdaq.

Rails Bookmakers have their own association, and are generally considered to be at the top end of the market.

Solid support for a given betting shop horse will force the price down on the racecourse as the money for it filters through to the racecourse, and in particular the rails by telephone by tic tac, and now by wireless computer networks. Instantly the shorter price is relayed to the other betting rings on the course.

The interaction between the 3 main betting sources nowadays includes Betting shops, the Betting Ring and the Betting Exchanges. The use of live websites and Satellite Information Services enables these 3 sources to interact simultaneously, and the experienced trader will have to establish the delicate balance between these 3 sources to succeed at his trade.

Betting ring:

Betting Rings on a racecourse are the enclosures where the betting actually takes place.

In Tattersalls ring, the admission charge covers admission to the lesser rated silver ring and also the paddock.

The silver ring is named due to the coinage that bookmakers used to accept here.

On some courses there isn’t a silver ring anymore. Betting on the course occurs in areas of the racecourse with free admission and is known as surprisingly enough “Betting on the Course”

Betting shop:

Since the boom of the sixties when they were first legalized, the number of betting shops has been in steady decline to about 8000 today.

Between 1st April and 31st August betting shops are now allowed to stay open until 10pm. But it wasn’t till 1993 that the law was altered to allow this, so that punters could bet on evening races.

Betting shop technology has improved beyond recognition in recent years, with Satellite Information Services (SIS) now available on banks of screens in the betting shops giving all the latest prices and running commentaries

Black type:

Once successful in a listed or pattern race a horse is then said to have gained “black type”. This means basically that in order to indicate the horses relevance as breeding stock, the horses name appears in black bold type in the bloodstock sales magazines.

If a horse finishes below third in any of these races it is no longer entitled to black type.


Basically a hood which fits over the head of the horse with shields at the eye holes to diminish the horse’s peripheral vision. The idea is that this concentrates the horse’s attention ahead by reducing what it might be able to see on either side.

It’s always worth noting when a horse first wears blinkers and this will be advertised on the better race cards and often in the racing press. It can sometimes result in a notable improvement in a horses running, but it should not be considered as an antidote to poor form.

Blinkers are more common these days and no longer carry the reputation as being a signature for a horse of poor character. There may well be horses that are less reliable that wear blinkers, but there are more frequently horses whose performance is simply improved by wearing them

Racing Post and Timeform give their view as to whether a horse is genuine, and will advise on whether or not blinkers will improve their chances. Conversely a good tip towards a horse’s true capabilities can be if after being tried in blinkers, the horse races next time without them.

A visor is created by taking a pair of blinkers and cutting a slit in the eye shield to give the horse a degree of peripheral vision. This may allow the horses that are running at the side to be seen. A hood covers the ears while leaving the eyes full vision. This is used for horses that are affected by too much noise.

Hood and visor use should be indicated on race cards and in the better racing press.

Blow up:

“Went like a bomb” is not a related term (for those with a sense of humor).

This term refers to a horse which in the home straight simply falls out of contention after running a good race up till that point. Very frustrating for the losing punter. Sometimes referred to as “Stopping to nothing”.