What does that mean

Types of Races

Purebred Arabian Races

Races that are restricted to Arabian horses only.

Thoroughbred Races

Races that are restricted to Thoroughbred horses only.


For horses that have never won a race before.


All horses carry weights based on their ability which is assessed by the official handicapper. The horse with the highest handicap rating carries the most weight with all other horses carrying weight relative to their individual handicap rating. The idea being that this handicapping system means that all horses theoretically have an equal chance of winning. Many handicap races are limited to horses of a particular rating. For example a race may be restricted to horses rated between 95 and 110 and is often called a Rated Stakes.

Conditions Race
A notch below Listed standard. There are certain conditions for qualification. For example, the age or sex of the horse, winner of one race or more, winner of races of a certain value etc.
Listed Races

The level of race just below Group races.

Listed Races

The level of race just below Group races.

Group 1, 2 & 3 Races
The most valuable and prestigious races (Group 1 being the best) in which the best horses race. These races are sometimes referred to as pattern races.

People in Racing

Apprentice Jockey

A jockey who has not yet fully qualified by riding a set number of winners or reaching a certain age. Apprentices, often after a period of initial training, usually work for a trainer from whom they receive instruction, advice and support. They are also frequently referred to as 'claimers', as horses ridden by apprentice jockeys in a race receive a weight allowance, also sometimes known as a claim, with the weight reduction dependent on the experience of the jockey. The claim is listed in the racecard in brackets after the jockey’s name.

Bloodstock Agent
Person who purchases horses for other people as a business, charging a commission for his/her services.

The owner of a mare at the time she gives birth to a foal.

Clerk Of The Course
The person responsible for the overall management of a racecourse during the raceday.
Clerk Of The Scales

The official whose duty it is to make sure the jockeys carry the allocated weights on horses in races, weighing them before and afterwards.

The person who describes/commentates on the races as they happen.

A trained professional who carries out work on the preparation or treatment of the foot of a horse and fits shoes on each horse. The fitting of a shoe is mostly done through nailing, although shoes can also be glued on to a horse’s foot. Every horse will train and race in shoes. Racing shoes, also called plates, are made of aluminium, although some horses may train in steel shoes.


Person responsible for looking after a jockey's equipment and assisting him between races with his equipment and silks.


A person qualified to medically treat horses.


The person that looks after a horse on a daily basis and will lead the horse at the races. Also sometimes known as a stable lad in Europe or a strapper in Australasia.


An official who assesses how a horse should be rated, taking into account its past performances. The handicap rating that is allocated to each horse determines the weight it will carry in a handicap race and also sometimes the races that it is eligible to run in.


Rider who partners a horse during a race, usually a professional.


Official at the racecourse who determines the finishing position of each horse in a race, the distances between them and usually the winning time.


The riders on ponies out on the racetrack that assist with all troublesome horses and are responsible for catching any horses that may lose their jockey and run loose.


A person owning part or all of a horse. An owner may be a single person, a group of people (often referred to as a syndicate) or a company. Each owner has their own set of colours which are registered with the relevant turf authority and are worn by the jockey riding their horse in a race.

Paddock Steward

The official responsible for ensuring that the race meeting keeps to time, by deciding at what time the horses enter and leave the paddock, as well as for checking that all the equipment that each horse is wearing corresponds with what has been declared by the trainer.

Racing Secretary

The official responsible for formulating the types of races that are run on each raceday which will ideally produce competitive racing with a good number of runners in each race.


Racecourse official who co-ordinates the start of a race. His primary aim is to ensure that the start is level and fair.


The group of people in overall charge of a race meeting. They are responsible for ensuring adherence to the rules of racing.


Person with responsibility for preparing and training horses for racing.


Person responsible for looking after a jockey's equipment and assisting him between races with his equipment and silks.

Work Rider

Rider who partners a horse during its training work-outs.

Tack & Equipment


Worn by horses to support or protect their legs during a race or exercise.


A bar (usually made of stainless steel) which sits in the horse's mouth and is attached to the bridle. It is attached to the reins, jockeys use the reins and bit to steer and control the horse by applying pressure to the reins.


A type of hood fitted to a horse's head that limits its field of vision, mainly from each side. Blinkers are used to help horses concentrate in races or to encourage them to run straighter.

Body Protector

Protective vest that all jockeys are required to wear under their colours to help protect them in a fall.


Trousers worn by jockeys when race riding.


Piece of tack that fits over a horse's head and to which the bit and reins are attached.


Pieces of sheepskin that are placed on each side of the bridle that perform a similar job as blinkers in helping the horse to concentrate and run straight through a slight restriction of its vision.


The jacket and cap worn by jockeys in a race. Each owner has their own set of colours which are registered with the relevant turf authority. They are often referred to as 'silks' due to the fact they were originally made of silk. Nowadays, they tend to be made of light synthetic materials.


Pieces of sponge that are put in a horse’s ears to muffle the noise of a raceday which can prove effective at keeping a horse relaxed before and during a race.


Pieces of sponge that are put in a horse’s ears to muffle the noise of a raceday which can prove effective at keeping a horse relaxed before and during a race.


Strip (usually made of leather and elastic) put under a horse's belly to which the saddle is attached. The girth keeps the saddle in place.

Halter/Head Collar

Piece of tack similar to a bridle, but lacking the usual bit. Usually worn by horses when they are not being ridden in and around stables.


A hood fitted over the horse’s head that covers its ears so to muffle the noise of a raceday to help keep the horse relaxed.


Better known as stirrups where the jockey’s feet go. Combined with the reins, stirrups provide the jockey with the leverage to control a horse. They can be raised or lowered depending on the jockey's preference.


Thoroughbreds in many countries nowadays have a tiny microchip inserted into their neck at a young age which can be scanned for the rest of their life to prove their identity.


Thoroughbreds in many countries nowadays have a tiny microchip inserted into their neck at a young age which can be scanned for the rest of their life to prove their identity.


Strap that goes over a horse's nose in order to secure the bridle. A variety of nosebands are used on racehorses to provide differing degrees of control and restraint and to sometimes help prevent the horse from getting its tongue over the bit which can obstruct its breathing.

Number Cloth

Cloth under the saddle with the number of the horse printed on it and often the name of the horse or race sponsor. Sometimes knows as the saddle cloth.


Mesh eye-covers used to calm horses down.


A horse’s identification document that is issued by the stud book of the country in which the horse was born. This document contains identification information, vaccination records, regulatory actions and a history of the horse’s international movements. The passport is used in conjunction with microchip scanning to verify a horse’s identity every time it runs in a race.

Photo Finish

The equipment that takes an automatic picture as the horses cross the finish line, which allows the judge to consult a photo to determine the placings should two or more horses finish close together at the end of a race.


The plastic barrier/fencing which determine the lay-out of a racetrack. These can be moved off the inside of the track should the ground on the inside of the racetrack need to be rested.


Piece of riding equipment on which the jockey sits on the horse. It is placed on the horse's back and usually has a cloth or pad placed underneath (known as the saddle cloth) to protect the horse's back and absorb sweat.

Shadow Roll

A piece of sheepskin attached to the horse’s noseband which will make the horse keep its head down (since if it lifts its head its vision will be obstructed), which can make the horse easier to control and can also assist in relaxing them.

Skull Cap

Helmet with certain specifications that all riders are required to wear for head protection when riding.

Starting Stalls

Also known as barriers. Mechanism of starting compartments for the horses. Runners enter the stalls at the start of a race and, when all have been loaded, the starter operates a lever or button which opens all the front doors of the stalls simultaneously. Before stalls, horses lined up at the start behind a tape or barrier. The introduction of stalls, first used in North America, enables all horses to have an equal chance at the start. Also referred to as the starting gate or barrier. These can be moved from start to start.


Strap placed over the saddle and girth to prevent them from moving.

Tongue Tie

A strap or piece of stocking used to tie down a horse's tongue to prevent the tongue getting over the bit which affects a horse's breathing and the control of the jockey over the horse.


A type of hood, much the same as blinkers, which limits a horse's rearward vision to aid concentration. A visor differs from blinkers as it has a small slit in the eye cups which allows a certain degree of light and vision for the horse in comparison to blinkers.

Weight Cloth

Also known as a lead bag. A cloth with pockets for lead weights placed under the saddle.


Lead placed in a weight cloth or lead bag to bring the jockey and tack up to the correct handicap weight.


Used by jockeys to help keep horses under control and to encourage them. Every jockey’s whip must conform to strict measurements, while the amount and way in which a jockey can use the whip is governed by strict rules enforced by the stewards.

Winning Post

Indicates where the finishing line is. Also called the ‘wire’ in North America.

Racing Terminology


Also known as a horse’s gait. The way in which a horse moves.


Regardless of the date when they were born, all horses in the Northern Hemisphere become a year older on January 1st, whilst in the Southern Hemisphere it is July 1st (South America) or August 1st (Australasia).

“All Out”

When a horse has to extend itself fully to win.


Also known as a claim, this is the weight allowance received by horses ridden by apprentice jockeys in a race, with the weight reduction dependent on the experience of the jockey. The claim is listed in the racecard in brackets after the jockey’s name.


Horse at the back or at the tail of the field during a race.


The back straight of the racetrack, furthest away from the stands, that falls between two bends.


A horse that is not fit or fully developed.


Should there be more horses declared for a race than the specified maximum number of runners allowed in each race for safety reasons, then a ballot will occur to determine the final field. Each race will have different criteria determining which horses have to go into the ballot, but in a handicap, the field is simply made up of the horses with the highest handicap rating with a ballot occurring at the bottom of the field should two or more horses have the same rating. Additional criteria such as whether a horse has been balloted out before and whether the owner or trainer already has a horse in the field can also sometimes be factored into the balloting process.

Black Type

Term used to show that horses have won or been placed in races of note, usually Group or Listed races. The term comes about because such races will always be written in a bolder, black type in a sales catalogue.

Blanket Finish

When horses finish very close together at the end of a race, so close that a blanket could encompass them.


Describes a horse that has experienced a rupture of some of the small blood vessels in the lungs, with resultant bleeding into the airway and appearance at the nostrils. Bleeding is often associated with poor racing performance and many regulatory authorities embargo such horses, often with a requirement to perform a gallop in front of officials before being allowed to race again.

“Blown Up”

When a horse starts to drop out of contention in a race due to lack of fitness.


When a horse is given a final sharp (short) workout a few days before a race.


When a horse runs away with its jockey.

“Boxed In”

When a horse is unable to obtain a clear run during a race, due to other horses being in the way.


Term for when horses leave the starting stalls.


Giving a horse in a race a chance to conserve some energy by easing off briefly to allow a concerted effort later in the race.


When a horse works at a fast speed

Broken Down

When a horse sustains an injury generally to the legs.


A mare (i.e. a female) at stud that is kept with the aim of producing a foal.

”Choked Down”

A horse may be described as having “choked down” in a race if its breathing has been obstructed in some way. Commonly, an abnormal displacement of a horse’s soft palate will compromise the airway and impair racing performance.


Colic refers to abdominal discomfort, commonly due to a gastrointestinal disorder. Horses exhibiting signs of colic are regarded as a veterinary emergency and although the vast majority of colic conditions resolve with medical treatment, a small percentage of cases require surgical intervention. Severe cases can prove fatal.



The body of colour Thoroughbred racehorses can be described as:

Coat, limbs, mane and tail are predominantly black.

A mixture of black and brown in the coat. Black limbs, mane and tail.

Coat is mainly brown with a bay muzzle. Black limbs, mane and tail.

Any shade of brown between bay/brown and chesnut. A bay's limbs, mane and tail are always black however.

Various shades of yellow/ginger hair on the body, ranging from an intense red-yellow through to a subtler golden yellow. Mane, limbs and tail may be any shade of coat colour or flaxen.

A mixture of black and white hair all over.

A mixture of red and white, or brown and white. Limbs, mane and tail may be black, roan or chesnut.


A young, uncastrated male horse aged four years old or younger. Once older than four years, the colt is known as an entire or a horse (if still racing) or a stallion (if going to stud to breed).

Conditions Book

The published book that outlines the races that will be run on any particular raceday.


A horse's physical make-up or build.


People involved with a horse including the owner, trainer, jockey and stable staff.


The person offering a horse for sale through an auction either as or on behalf of the owner or vendor of the horse.


The person offering a horse for sale through an auction either as or on behalf of the owner or vendor of the horse.

”Cut in the Ground”

A description of the ground condition of the turf racing surface, when there is give in the surface, also called ‘soft going’.


Mother of a horse.


When the judge cannot split two or more horses at the finishing line. The winning prize-money is split between the horses that dead heat.


When a trainer formally notifies the authorities that he/she intends to run a horse in a certain race. The runners and riders for each meeting are "declared" at least two days before the race in the UAE.


Type of racetrack where the surface is mainly made up of sand or dirt.


When a horse is disqualified from a race by the stewards due to a serious rule infraction such as testing positive for a prohibited substance.


The length of a race that is determined in metres in the UAE. 1000m is the shortest with the longest race in the UAE being 2400m for thoroughbreds. Longer races exist in other countries with jumping races of up to four and a half miles existing in the UK.


A Flat racing term denoting a horse's position in the starting stalls.

Dubai World Cup

The world's richest race, worth US$6 million in 2006, which was founded in 1996, and is run at Nad Al Sheba Racecourse, Dubai, over 2000m on dirt in late March.


A slow start by a horse in a race.

Eased Down

When a jockey stops riding out a horse in a race. This is usually as a precaution against injury or when a horse is out of contention.


Qualified to run in a particular race.


When the stewards prevent a horse from being permitted to enter any race.


Horses must be entered for a race before they can be declared and then run. The process of entering horses can have several stages, although these vary from country to country. Some important races, such as the races at the Dubai World Cup, have their first entry stage months before the race.


The collective term for the runners in a race.


A female horse four years old or younger.


A horse's race record. Denoted by figures next to its name in a racecard.


An imperial unit of distance measurement in horseracing. One eighth of a mile or 220 yards or 200 metres.

Galloping Track

Generally a wide-open track that suits bigger horses with big strides.

Gate Schooling

The starter or stewards may request that a horse undergoes gate schooling at the starting stalls under their observation a few days prior to an intended race start, should the horse be new to the UAE and unknown to them or if it has behaved badly at the start in its previous race. Horses will often need to behave to the satisfaction of officials before they will be permitted to race.


Refers to a horses that has been castrated ("gelded") to improve his temperament.

”Get the Trip”

Usually said of a horse that stays the particular distance of the race.


The conditions underfoot on the racecourse.


A horse is described as "green" or "running greenly" when it shows signs of inexperience.

”Hacked Up”

When a horse has won easily.

Half-Brother or Sister

When two or more horses share their dam but not their sire.

Hands & Heels

Riding a horse without using a whip.


The unit of measurement for assessing the height of horses. One hand is equal to four inches (just over 10cm). Horses are measured from the ground up to the withers and racehorses usually measure between 15 and 17 hands. A horse standing 62 inches would be described as 15.2HH.


A description of a horse’s prominent position during a race.


When a horse is shifts or deviates inwards or outwards during the running of a race.


Horse bred by his or her owner.

Home Turn

The final bend leading into the straight which has the finishing line on it.


A process held by the stewards to adjudicate whether any rules have been broken. Stewards can disqualify horses and punish jockeys or trainers if there has been an infraction of the Rules of Racing.

“In The Money”

Generally speaking, when a horse finishes in the first three or four. This term refers to the fact that in most races prize-money is available only to horses that occupy these positions, though increasingly prize-money is awarded further down the field these days in valuable events, often to sixth place and sometimes beyond.


A two year old horse.


A medical condition affecting the locomotor system of a horse due to disease or injury. Horses adjudged as lame by the racecourse vet will not be allowed to compete in a race.


The length of a horse from its nose to the start of its tail. The measurement used to describe the finishing distance between horses. A length actually equates to approximately 0.15 seconds in real time.


A horse that has not yet won a race or a female horse that has never had a foal.


A female horse five years and over.


The distance between the horses at the finish of a race. In ascending order, they are: Nose, Short Head, Head, Neck, ½ Length, ¾ Length, 1 Length, 1 ¼ Lengths, 1 ½ Lengths etc…


The white marks on a horse that are different on every horse and are used to assist with their identification.


Left-hand side of a horse, from where riders are usually mounted.


Also known as a “scratching” or withdrawal - when a horse is withdrawn from a race for which it had been entered.


After a race, the rider of a beaten horse can claim a foul by the winner or another horse in the race. This objection is then heard by the stewards. An objection can also come from racing officials, such as the clerk of scales if a rider fails to weigh in or has carried the wrong weight.

“Off the Pace “

When a horse is running towards the back of the field of runners in a race.


Right-hand side of a horse.

“On the Bit/Off the Bit”

On the bit means when a horse is travelling well (i.e. the bit is still tight in its mouth), whereas if a horse if off the bit it is having to be ridden to maintain its position. It can also be referred to as on or off the bridle.

”Over the Top”

A horse past its peak for the season.


When a jockey is too heavy to ride at the horse's allotted weight they may put up overweight. This is limited to 1kg in the UAE.


The speed at which a race is run. Up with the pace means close to the leaders, off the pace means some way behind.


The area of a racecourse where horses are paraded before each race. Can also be called the parade ring. In the UAE, horses parade anti-clockwise.


The area of a racecourse where horses are paraded before each race. Can also be called the parade ring. In the UAE, horses parade anti-clockwise.


An official document issued by the Stud Book Authority of the country in which the horse is born. A horse's passport gives its details including markings and is used to confirm identity. It must accompany the horse to the races.


Additional weight carried by a horse on account of previous wins. In a handicap, penalties are added to the allotted weight of a horse if it has won since the weights for the race were published.


A horse is generally said to be “placed” if it finishes first, second or third and sometimes fourth in a race.


A marker pole to denote distance around a racetrack. They are usually placed at every 200m.

Prize/Purse Money

Money which horses race for.

Prohibited Substance

Each racing authority around the world sets strict guidelines as to medications that may be in a horse’s system when it races. A zero tolerance approach is taken in many countries, including the UAE. Severe penalties are imposed should a horse be found to have raced with any prohibited substance in its system.

Pull Up

To bring to a halt a horse during or after a race or training session.


A process whereby horses going to other countries have to spend a certain period in isolation, either before or after arrival or both, to ensure that they are free from disease. This is enforced for all horses that fly to or from the UAE from overseas to compete in races.


When the finishing order of a race is changed by the stewards because of interference or other rule infraction.


A horse selected as a standby runner in a race, in case an entry drops out.

”Ridden Out”

When a horse is asked for the effort to win a race..

”Run Back”

A term used to describe a horse that runs in one race and then “runs back” or “backs up” by running in another race a few days later.

“Run Free”

A horse going too fast and being too eager early on in a race. Also known as pulling or being rank.


A horse taking part in a race.

Scope (1)

A horse is said to have scope if it is likely to improve with age and as it grows and matures.

Scope or Endoscope (2)

The piece of medical diagnostic equipment that veterinarians use to visualise the airway of a horse. A “dirty scope” describes a horse with an airway infection.


See Non-Runner

Sectional Timing

Several racetracks around the world including Nad Al Sheba have an electronic sectional timing system, where the time of the each horse is taken at every furlong marker to give an indication of the speed of the race. Each horse carries a small transponder in its saddle cloth which is picked up by sensors at each furlong pole to produce the individual sectional time for each horse. The time of the leading horse will usually appear on television screens around the course during and after the race.

Sex Allowance (Gender Allowance)

In many races fillies and mares are able to carry less weight than their male counterparts, the allowance in kilos will vary depending on the race conditions.


The father of a horse.


White markings on a horse which go from the top of the hoof to the fetlock.

“Spread a Plate “

When a racing horseshoe, also known as a plate, comes off, sometimes causing delay as the horse is re-shod.


A race run over a short distance, usually less than 1400m.

Stakes Race

The most important races contested by the best horses, principally Group and Listed races.

Starters List

The list, put together by the starter and stewards, of horses that require special attention at the start (such as being blindfolded or loaded last into the starting stalls) or who have given problems at the start in the past.


Horses who have a lot of stamina and are more likely to show up best over races of 2400m and further.

Stiff Track

A track that requires a lot of stamina, such as one with a long home straight or an uphill finish, such as Jebel Ali.

Stud Book

The book that lists and registers every thoroughbred horse that is born. Every major racing nation has their own stud book that is co-ordinated with the stud book of all other racing nations.


The letters in brackets after a horse’s name that indicate which country the horse was born in (i.e. Roses In May (USA), means that the horse was born in the USA).


Punishment for breaking the rules imposed by stewards on jockeys, but also applicable to trainers, owners and horses. Suspensions can be as short as one day, up to years in very serious cases.


Any kind of sample taken from a horse before or after a race for the purpose of detecting prohibited substances.

Testing or Sampling Unit

The barn located in a secure area at every racetrack where forensic samples are taken from horses at the request of the stewards often referred as a Swab Box. The sampling procedure is supervised by the racetrack veterinarian.

Tying Up

Tying up syndrome is a preferable name to exertional rhabdomyolysis because not all horses that tie up have exercised. Tied up horses develop pain and stiffness in the lower back, gluteals and muscles of the thigh region. The problem can vary from a transient cramping to a serious problem where muscle destruction occurs.

Tight Track

Generally a narrow track with tight turns that suits smaller, nippier horses.


Type of track surface, made up of grass.


Every horse must have up-to-date vaccinations before it will be allowed to run. Different jurisdictions may require horses to have different vaccinations, for example, all horses must have an equine influenza vaccination before they are allowed to run in the UAE.

Veterinary Withdrawal Certificate

A certificate issued by the attending clinical veterinarian, forwarded to the stewards stating that a medical reason will prevent a horse from being able to compete in a race.

Veterinary Certificate / Clearance (requirement for…)

A regulatory imposition placed upon a horse by the stewards, whereby a veterinary medical clearance must be issued before a horse can enter to race again.

Weighing Room

Area where jockeys are weighed both before and after a race by the clerk of the scales.

Weigh In/Out

Weighing the jockey before and after the race to make sure the horse carried the right weight. The ‘weighed in’ announcement means the result is official.


The load carried by a horse during a race. Weight consists primarily of the jockey and his tack. If this does not provide enough to equal the weight allocated to the horse by the handicapper, pieces of lead are added to the weight cloth/lead bag.

Weight For Age

Fixed scale of weights carried by horses in races according to their age, sex, time of year and the distance to be run.

Winner's Enclosure

The area where the winner and often the placed horses come to have their saddles removed after a race. Also known as the unsaddling enclosure.


General term for horses exercising.