Horse Racing Glossary

A little bit like a Horse Racing Dictionary 


Betting on an event well in advance. In the case of big horse races or football tournaments, this could be a year or more before the event takes place.


A selection that a punter or tipster feels is a near certainty.


This shows what the lowest odds of horses or competitors not mentioned in the betting forecast are likely to be - '50-1 bar' means those not quoted are 50-1 or bigger.

Best Price Percentage

Price percentages are used to calculate over-roundness. A completely fair book is classified as 100% over-round. However the bookmakers' profit margins mean the figure is almost always above 100%. But, if one aggregates the best prices from different bookmaking firms on any event, the percentages become lower. On some occasions, when odds greatly differ from firm to firm, the best price percentage may even drop below 100% showing that the best book on that event is actually in the punter's favour.


When a bookmaker takes a lot of money on one particular runner, it is said that it has been heavily backed.


American term for someone who bets.


Term used to describe a favourite who bookmakers expect to lose and are therefore happy to lay.

Board Prices

This refers to the currently available odds displayed on the boards of on-course bookmakers. It is from these that the starting price for horse races is derived.


The organisation or person who wins in the end.


The outcome of too many losing bets.


Betting on both a win and a place. A percentage of the win odds is paid for the place which usually ranges from second to fourth depending on the event.


The participant with the shortest odds in the field, who the bookmakers think is most likely to win.


Some bookmakers may well group all the outsiders in a competition under the banner headline of 'field' and put it head to head with the favourite. This is known as favourite versus the field betting and is common in horse and golf betting.

Fixed odds betting

Staking a set amount to win a set amount by multiplying the stake by the odds. As opposed to spread betting where the amount you can win or lose on a single bet may vary.


Often used for American football, soccer and rugby betting. One team, usually the away side, receives a head start for betting purposes. Punters can bet for or against the team with the head start. The handicap can also be known as the line or the spread.

In-running betting

Some bookmakers offer odds for an event while in progress with the prices quoted reflecting the current state of play.

Joint favourites

When a bookmaker cannot split two runners for favouritism.


Another term for the favourite in a race.


An alternative term for a bookmaker, someone who lays or accepts a bet.


Bookmakers' slang for £500.


A member of the public who places ill-considered bets.


A tipster's best bet.

No Offers

When bookmakers are unwilling to offer a price on a participant (N/O).


Refers to a price where you have to stake more than the amount you expect to make as profit.


When the amount you win is more than your stake.


In theory, using natural odds, a betting book can be fairly weighted between bookmaker and bettor. However bookmaker profit margins mean that they must alter the odds in their favour. Over-roundness is a means of expressing to what extent the odds are in favour of the bookmaker. An evenly weighted book based on natural odds is expressed as 100%, and the more the odds move in the bookmaker's favour the more that figure rises. Thus a book that is weighted 20% in favour of a bookmaker is expressed as 120% over-round. See Best Price Percentage for further details.


A member of the public who places bets.


Bookmakers' slang for £25.


The outsider in the field, normally available at a big price.

Rule 4

If a horse is withdrawn shortly before the start of a race and there is insufficient time to form a new market the remaining horses are subject to a deduction if they win or are placed. These are calculated according to the starting price as follows:

3-10 or longer odds 75p in the £

2-5 to 1-3 70p 

8-15 to 4-9 65p 

8-13 to 4-7 60p 

4-5 to 4-6 55p 

20-21 to 5-6 50p 

Evens to 6-5 45p 

5-4 to 6-4 40p 

13-8 to 7-4 35p 

15-8 to 9-4 30p 

5-2 to 3-1 25p 

10-3 to 4-1 20p 

9-2 to 11-2 15p 

6-1 to 9-1 10p 

10-1 to 14-1 5p 

14-1 unchanged

Spread Betting

An innovative form of betting for high rollers. Started by City traders and based on stock market principles, it allows punters to lose more money than they thought they would.

Starting Price

The official odds, calculated from selected on-course board prices, for a horse as the race starts.


A runner whose odds are continually shortened in the face of heavy support.


The 'sign language' with which bookmakers on the racecourse communicate.


Individuals who think they know what they are talking about giving betting advice.

Win only

Betting markets where no each-way betting is available.