What’s the difference between a colt, filly, gelding, stallion and mare?

Horse racing has plenty of jargon that flies straight over most peoples’ heads

Colt, filly, gelding, stallion and mare


Horse racing is a sport packed with often pointless jargon that some racing betting newcomers won’t be accustomed to.

One of the big issues around the language of horse racing is the amount of terms given to the actual horses. There are scores different terms you might hear at a racetrack or when watching a racing stream, such as juvenile, maiden, sire and yearling.

But what does all of this mean? Well, this latest Demystifying Racing guide from Paddy Power will take you through five core terms that are often used to describe horses, and why they are so common.

And you never know, knowing the difference between a filly and a mare might be what gives you the edge next time you’re horse racing betting!


Some male horses let their temperament dominate races, which means that for all their talent and raw speed they never fulfil their potential. When temperament is an issue, owners can decide to castrate the horse in an effort to calm it down. A gelding is a male horse that has been castrated.

Successful geldings in history include American icon Kelso and two-time Champion Hurdle winner Hurricane Fly.

1000 Guineas

The 1000 Guineas is a race open to three-year-old fillies (GETTY)


A colt it a male racehorse aged four years or younger that hasn’t been castrated. Colts that impress in their early career are swiftly considered contenders to win big races such as the Gold Cup or the Grand National in later life. 


A filly is a female racehorse aged four yeas or younger. Some races are open to fillies only, such as the 1000 Guineas and the Kentucky Oaks. The Fillies’ Triple Crown consists of the 1000 Guineas, Epsom Oaks and St. Leger Stakes.


Conversely, a mare is a female racehorse aged five years or older. 


Perhaps the most commonly known type of horse, a stallion is a male horse that is often used for breeding. Once male horses retire owners may decide to put them out to stud, where they cover retired mares on a regular basis in an effort to produce the next generation of champion thoroughbreds.



What do you think?