What does it mean when a horse has spread a plate? Paddy’s guide to the horse racing betting term

Horse racing reports sometimes refer to a runner having ‘spread a plate’ - but what does this mean and is it bad for your bets?

Paddy Power horse racing betting explained spread a plate

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Betting on horse racing is a fun way to learn the intricacies of the sport—but jargon such as ‘spread a plate’, ‘Rule 4’ and ‘Nap’ litters the world of racing.

Yet horse racing terminology doesn’t have to be confusing. That’s why here at Paddy Power we’ve created the Demystifying Racing collection of guides to help you cut through the lingo.

And one of the strangest phrases you’re likely to hear when racing betting is ‘spread a plate’.

SPREAD A PLATE EXPLAINED

So what does it mean when a horse has spread a plate, and is it bad?

Well, spread a plate is a term used when a horse has damaged or lost a horseshoe before the race. When this happens, the horse will be re-shod by a farrier, which depending on the incident may take just minutes to correct. Spreading a plate is therefore one of the reasons why a race might be delayed.

However, having this happen to a horse you’ve backed isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Horses lose shoes all the time and they are unlikely to have been hurt by dislodging one before a race.

After all, a farrier’s job is to make sure the horse is as well prepared as possible to run. Re-shodding is part of the job and shouldn’t cause the horse any harm or discomfort.

Spread a plate explained in horse racing betting

Horses run with shoes to prevent damaging their hooves (GETTY)

WHY DO RACEHORSES WEAR SHOES?

Horseshoes are a vital piece of equipment when preparing a horse for a race. Horses wear shoes in order to protect the hoof wall from cracking or splitting when they run. That’s because a racehorse’s hooves can take a real battering when leaping over jumps and running on firm ground.

Hooves are made from keratin, the same substance found in human toe and finger nails. The horseshoe helps strengthen the landing of the hoof and provide more stability over distance races.

Shoeing must be done correctly to avoid causing further damage to a hoof. And racetrack farriers will be on hand to deal with ‘spread a plate’ issues as soon as they arise.

Farriers usually attach aluminium shoes to racehorses as these are light and durable enough to withstand race conditions. However, steel shoes are often seen used for domestic horses.

Farrier fixes a horse shoe to a race horse

A horse is re-shod by a farrier (GETTY)

DOES SPREAD A PLATE AFFECT HORSE RACING ODDS?

In reality if a horse is re-shod before a race then their racing betting odds are unlikely to change. Indeed, most punters won’t even realise that a runner is getting their horseshoe fixed before heading out onto the course.

Horse racing betting markets fluctuate before the start of the race for a wide number of reasons—the biggest of which is when a flurry of bets suddenly go on a specific name. If a horse is known to have gone to the farrier to fix a shoe then this won’t in reality affect the odds.

DEMYSTIFYING RACING

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