Horse Racing Jargon Buster: Your guide to understanding the sport’s key terms

Rule 4. Ante-post. Double Result. And all the rest.

Horse Racing Jargon Buster


Horse racing. The sport of Kings. But also, the sport of complicated, confusing jargon. So welcome to our Racing Jargon Buster – aiming to explain common racing lingo in simple terms.

We’ll be adding to this on a regular basis, so do comment with any additions you’d like to see.

Rule 4

One of the most complicated sounding ones here – so try to bear with us. It’s not as scary as some think. This is a very common query among horse racing bettors. In simple terms, it means a deduction from winning bets because a horse was withdrawn from the race AFTER you took the price on your horse.

The rate of deductions is in proportion to the odds of the non-runner at the time he/she was withdrawn. So if a 6/4 favourite gets withdrawn late, bets placed before that withdrawal will suffer a significant deduction. If a 10/1 shot is withdrawn, it’s a relatively small deduction.

Now take a deep breath. That’s a Rule 4. We don’t know if there’s a Rule 1, 2 or 3, so don’t worry.

cheltenham 2020 guide


A bet placed far in advance of the event.

For example, placing a bet in February for a horse to win the Grand National, which is in April. Different rules apply to antepost bets, mainly that you won’t get your money back if the horse doesn’t run*, but equally you don’t suffer a Rule 4 if other horses in the antepost market don’t run. Swings and roundabouts, eh?

*unless he’s balloted out – we’ll get to that later.

A Horse is Balloted Out of a Race

A niche, but important one nonetheless. Let’s say you back a horse in an antepost market. That horse is then declared at the final declaration stage. But, unfortunately, it fails to get a run because there is a maximum field size, and your selection horse isn’t rated high enough to make the cut. That horse is said to be “balloted out”. All stakes on antepost bets on balloted out horses are refunded in full. Not as glamorous as it sounds, really.


A horse withdrawn from a race for which it had previously been declared. You get your money back, unless it was an antepost bet. “He would’ve won, as well”, I tell myself about any non-runner I’ve backed.


Best Odds Guaranteed

A promise by a bookmaker that you’ll get paid out at the higher odds if the Starting Price on a horse is longer than the price you took earlier in the day. Handy.

Official Result

This is the result declared after the ‘Weighed-in’ declaration has been made and after which point bets will be paid out on, irrespective of whether there is then a steward’s inquiry or a change to the result.

Go and collect.

Steward’s Enquiry

A situation when the stewards look into a particular aspect of a race. Usually involves jockeys explaining that they ain’t done nothin’ wrong, guv.

Each way

A bet where half the total stake is for the selection to win and half is for the selection to be placed. The bet will be paid out differently depending on whether the horse wins or places. My bets usually do neither.


Backing a horse to finish in the places. The number of places depend on the number of runners, with two places available for a five to seven runner race, three places for eight to 15 runners, and four places for handicaps with 16 runners or more.

Extra place terms are often offered by bookies, so keep an eye on these. We do lots of ‘em.

Cheltenham Paddy Power

Cash out

Taking a payout offered by your bookmaker before the completion of a bet. A divisive topic, to say the least.

Betting In-play

Also sometimes knowing as betting-in-running, this is a bet placed while a race is being run. Useful for when your original selection falls at the first.

Double Result

When a bookmaker pays out on the first past the post result, and any alterations to the finishing positions by the stewards during a stewards enquiry. Also, an exclamation when a takeaway confuses an order and sends you extra food by mistake. E.g. “Oi, there’s extra chicken balls in here. Double f*cking result, Rodney.”


A tie between two or, rarely, more horses in a race for a win or placing. Usually preceded by hands on head and a shout of ‘who got it?’

prestbury park cheltenham races


A bet involving more than one selection with the winnings from each selection going on to the next selection. All selections must be successful to get a return. I’ll get one up. One of these days.


A bet where the aim is to predict both the winner and runner-up in a race. Nothing to do with weather.

Lucky 15

A bet consisting of 15 bets involving four selections in different events. The bet includes four singles, six doubles, four trebles, and one fourfold. Only one selection must win for a guaranteed return. Luck x 15 required.


The best bet of the day for a tipster. Not to be confused with what your Nan does during Bargain Hunt.

Market Mover

A selection that changes in price significantly either way, by decreasing in odds (steaming) or increasing in odds (drifting). See also: Paul Binfield


Starting Price. The price at which a horse starts a race – used to determine a payout for winning punters, unless a punter took a price. My Granny always told me to “take the f*@$ing price”.


A race in which horses carry different weights according to their official rating. In theory, a handicap race should see all horses cross the line together. In practice, I’m yet to see that happen.

Find a full range of horse racing odds over on

What do you think?