Glossary of racing terms G-O

An A-to-Z guide to give you a better understanding of all those racing terms:



A male horse with both testicles removed. Horses are gelded to prevent them becoming too heavy and to moderate their behaviour.

Group race

Stakes races are races of high quality, categorised into Groups 1, 2 and 3, and listed in order of importance.



A traditional unit of measure used to determine the height of a horse. A hand is about 10cm, with the horse being measured from the ground to the highest point of the wither (ridge between the shoulder bones). Most thoroughbreds are around 16 hands.


A race that has weights assigned to horses by the handicapper according to ability to equalise each horse's chances of winning. The Melbourne Cup is Australia's richest handicap.


The person who assigns handicaps to competitors.


A term used to describe a horse that is not running straight. Jockeys must make all endeavours to ensure their horses run in a straight line during races.

Head collar

Along with a lead rope, the head collar is used to lead a horse.


A term used in a specific Stud Book sense for any entire male four years old or older. In its general everyday sense the term applies to any male or female of the equine species.

Hosing down stalls

This is where the horses are hosed down after the race.

Hurdle race

Jumps race over brush hurdles.


Identification of horses

Every thoroughbred is identifiable and registered with the Australian Stud Book.

To have a foal entered into the Stud Book, breeders must have the foal's identity validated through a process undertaken by themselves, veterinarians and the Stud Book.

Breeders must notify the Stud Book when thoroughbreds are mated and when the corresponding offspring is born. When foals have been freeze-branded (a painless permanent marking on its hide), the stud's veterinarian also identifies the foal according to its natural markings (colour, white markings and whorls) and takes a blood sample.

At the time that the horse is identified, breeders must present their produce in a place and under such circumstances that the horse can be handled and examined thoroughly. At this time they must give the veterinarian pre-printed labels received from the Australian Stud Book and a DNA kit and instructions for attachment to the sample containers.

The veterinarian will take samples from the foal and despatch the samples to the Australian Equine Genetics Research Centre. All samples must bear an Australian Stud Book pre-printed label or they will be discarded. The veterinarian must also lodge the original of the Identification Certificate with the Stud Book within 15 days, and provide the breeder with a copy of the Identification Certificate for that horse, to be used to later register that thoroughbred.


Area inside the racetrack.

Inside Racing

The official publication of Racing Victoria. This includes a calendar and details of forthcoming races, and other official information as well as articles of interest. It was originally called the Victorian Racing Calendar.

Invitation race

A race that only invited horses may enter.


Keeper of the stud book

Also known as the Registrar of Racehorses. The manager of the Australian Stud Book organisation.



As in lead weight – if jockeys are too light to make the weight allotted a horse, they make up the difference between their weight and that which has to be carried by putting thin slabs of lead in the pockets of the saddle, or in a special bag under a saddle.


A measurement (the length of a horse) used to describe the distance between horses in a race.

Listed race

A stakes race, below a group race in quality.


A bit with a metal ring attached to give the jockey more control, especially with a horse that hangs.



A horse or rider that has not won a race; a female that has never been mated.

Maiden race

A race restricted to horses which at the time of starting have never won on the flat a race at a registered meeting.


A female horse four years old or older.

Metropolitan course

A course in the metropolitan area; in Victoria these are Flemington Racecourse, Caulfield Racecourse, Sandown Racecourse and Moonee Valley Racecourse.


A race that is run over between 1400 and 2199m.

Mounting yard

Where horses are paraded in numerical order prior to each race and jockeys are issued with their instructions from trainers and owners and mount their horses. Following each race, all competitors dismount in the mounting yard. The first five horses past the winning post fill the placegetters' stalls and their jockeys weigh in. No-one is permitted to have any physical contact with the jockeys before they weigh in.

Moveable running rail

A running rail that can be moved to maintain the racing surface so that horses racing on a given track run over each part of the track as little as possible or over the more resilient parts of the track more often than the less resilient parts.


A horse that runs well on heavy (very rain-affected) tracks.


Near side

Left side of a horse from which the horse is always approached, led and mounted.



A classic stakes race for 3YO fillies.


Likelihood of a horse winning or placing in a race.

Open race

A race with no restrictions on entry. Also used as slang for a race in which many horses have a good winning chance.