scans00904-000 (708x1024)HORSE RACING BEGINNERS GUIDE


Racing Speak

Amateur These jockeys mostly ride in bumper races. Their name is always prefixed by Mr, Ms or Mrs. They can claim a weight allowance of up to 7lbs depending on the number of winners they have ridden.
Apprentice Young professional jockeys who can also claim a weight allowance of up to 10lbs, dependent on the same parameters as above.
 Banker  Slang word for a horse that is guaranteed to win: i.e. money in the bank. A mythological concept, preached by dedicated but misguided believers because there is no such thing. Anything can happen in horse racing. That’s what makes it so exciting.
 Best Turned Out  Not to be confused with the above. This is a prize given to the groom of the horse that is judged to look the best in the parade ring. Often a good pointer to a horse’s chance.
 Cheek Pieces  Sheepskin bands on each side of the bridle which help keep the horse focused.
 Colours (of horses)  There are 5 colours. B = Bay. Bl = Black. Br = Brown. Ch = Chestnut. Gr = Grey.
 Colt  Male horse aged up to 4 years old.
 Draw Flat races are started from stalls and the draw number designates which stall each horse starts from. At some tracks certain positions are advantageous so check what draw your horse has.
 Filly Female horse aged up to 4 years old.
 Furlong 1/8 of a mile. Equal to 220 yards or 200 metres.
 Filly Female horse aged up to 4 years old.
 Gelding A male horse that has been neutered because it is not required for breeding purposes. Most jump horses are geldings because they’re seldom used as stallions. (There are plans to introduce it for some tipsters in the near future!)
 Go on you good thing/ you beauty /horses name An impulsive exclamation emitted by racegoers when the horse they bet on is close to winning. Use whichever one suits your personality or invent new ones. Can also be directed at the jockey in a close finish.
 Green The colour of grass! But also used to describe a horse that is very inexperienced.
 Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) The national authority for racing – funds, administers and promotes racing in Ireland. Owns the Tote, ITM and Leopardstown & Navan racecourses
 Judge The official who declares the winner and placed horses in a race and the winning distance.
 Lead Weights carried in the saddle which make up the difference between the jockey’s weight and what the horse is assigned to carry.
 Length The approximate length of a horse: about 8 feet. Winning margins are measured in lengths, ranging from 1/2 a length to a distance (more than 20 lengths). Smaller winning margins are a short-head, head or a neck.
 Mare Female horse aged 5 years or over.
 Mares’ allowance In non-handicap races fillies and mares get a weight allowance. 3lbs on the flat, 5lbs over jumps. (So much for equality of the sexes!)
 Odds on Sometimes confusing – a bookmaker price. Eg. at “6 to 4 on” you have to stake 6 to win 4. This will appear as 4 /6 on bookmakers boards but is referred to as 6 to 4 on.
 On the bridle / On the bit A horse going the pace seemingly without much effort or need for its jockey to push it. Can be deceptive as sometimes these horses will not find extra speed when their jockeys do push them.
Off the bridle A horse being pushed along by its jockey to keep up with the pace. Doesn’t necessarily mean it is beaten as some horses are a bit lazy and need to be roused to get into top gear.





 Flat Racing

  • Run over distances ranging from 5 furlongs to 20 furlongs
  • Horses start from stalls
  • There are NO jumps
  • The season runs from mid-March to mid-November
  • Flat horses start running at 2 or 3 years old

National Hunt or ‘Jump’ Racing

  • Contested over at least 2 miles
  • Horses start from a tape barrier
  • Horses have to jump a number of obstacles
  • Racing goes on all year round buts main season runs from November until the end of April
  • Jump horses start running at 4 or 5 years old


  • A race in which the weights are calculated by an official assessor
  • The better class horses carry the highest weights while the lesser class horses carry lower


  • Basically, has the horse been running well?


What the ground conditions are like on the course; the descriptions are,

  • Heavy
  • Soft
  • Yielding
  • Good
  • Good to firm
  • Firm


The distance of the race


The Tote is a pool betting system where all profits go back into Horse Racing.

  • Win –  Pick a horse to finish 1st.
  • Place – Pick a horse you think will be placed. If there are 5-7 runners your horse can finish 1st or 2nd; 8+ runners your horse can finish 1st, 2nd or 3rd. In handicap races with 16 or more runners, the Tote also pay 4th place.
  • Each way – This popular bet gives you both a win and place on a horse. eg,.€2 each way on a horse totals €4. If the horse wins you collect win and place dividends.
  • Exacta –  Pick 2 horses to finish 1st and 2nd in specific order.
  • Reverse exacta –Select 2 horses to finish 1st and 2nd in any order.
  • Trifecta – Pick three horses to finish 1st, 2nd, 3rd in the correct order. This bet is available on all races with 3 or more declared runners.
  • Jackpot – Your aim is to select the winners of the 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th races. You can pick more than 1 horse in each race. Mark your selections on the special Jackpot playslip and hand it to the operator before the 3rd race.
  • Placepot –  Your aim is to select a horse to be placed in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th races. You can pick more than 1 horse in each race. Mark your section on the Placepot payslip and hand it to the operator before the 1st   race.
  • Pick Six – The “Tote Pick Six” is a six leg Jackpot type bet which will be available at one Irish race meeting every day. The aim is to pick the winners of races 1 to 6.
  • €2 is the minimum stake on win and place bets. €1 is the minimum stake on the Exacta , 10cent Trifecta. 50c is the minimum stake on the Jackpot and pick six. 10c is the minimum on the Placepot.

How To Bet On The Bookmakers

  • Win – Pick a horse to finish 1st.
  • Each way – Win and Place bet. The place price is 1/4 or 1/5 of the win price.
  • Without the favourite – With this bet you get reduced odds but two chances to win;
  1.  If your horse wins the race.
  2. If your horse finishes 2nd to the favourite.

How To Read a Racecard

Buying a racecard is one of the first things you should do when you arrive at the racecourse. In it you will find all the information you will require for your day at the races. Including all the runners for each race, below is a sample of how to read a horse’s form.

Read a form