How to Sound Like an Expert at the Races

It's not enough to look the part, you need to talk the trackside talk

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Apprentice
A young jockey, usually under 21 years of age, who is still in training.

Apprentice allowance
Reduction in the weight to be carried by a horse which is to be ridden by an apprentice jockey. Also called a “claim”.

Barriers
Starting barrier used to keep horses in line before the start of a race. Each horse has a stall or place randomly allocated in the barrier draw for the race.

Birdcage
Area where horses are paraded before entering the racetrack.

Clerk of the course
Mounted racecourse officials who manage horses and jockeys on the race track, and lead the winner of a race back to the mounting yard.

Colt
An entire (ungelded) male under four years of age.

Dead heat
Is a tie between two or, rarely, more horses for a win or place in a race.

Dead cert
Dead certainty, a horse or team that is considered highly likely to win.

Filly
A female Thoroughbred less than four years of age.

Gelding
A male horse that has been castrated.

Good alley
A barrier draw considered to be ideal for a particular horse.

On the bit
When a horse is eager to run.

On the nose
A bet placed on the win only.

Preliminary
The walk, canter or gallop by a horse on the way to the starting stalls.

Put your house on
A good thing.

Relegated
Horse is demoted in finish order due to an inquiry into the race.

Ridden upside down
Not ridden in the usual manner. An example would be a normal front runner which is ridden back in the field.

Roughie
A horse at long odds which is considered to have only a remote chance of winning a race.

Saddlecloth
A cloth which goes under the saddle to identify the horse by number and, sometimes in major races, its name.

Salute the judge
The horse wins the race.

Silks
A jockey’s britches and bib or cravat.

Taken to the cleaners
An expression used by both bookmakers and punters when they have suffered a huge loss.

Tote
Where you go to place a bet. If you’re a beginner, ask for an Easy Bet and the computer will pick for you.

Track condition
Used to describe the racing surface (Fast: Very firm surface, Good: Firm surface, Dead: Track with give in the ground, Slow: Rain affected, Heavy: Very rain affected). Now replaced in some instances by a 1-to-10 rating system.

Unbackable
A horse which is quoted at such extremely short odds that investors decide it is too short to return a reasonable profit for the risk involved.

Weigh out
Before each race, a jockey, and his equipment are weighed to ensure that the horse carries its allotted weight.

Find out more on the Ellerslie Racedays and become a member of the Auckland Racing Club

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