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How to Sound Like a Spring Racing Master

How to Sound Like a Spring Racing Master

19 Oct 2022

How to Sound Like a Spring Racing Master

By Kaylah Chesson

When that first Tuesday in November comes around everyone likes to pretend they know something about horse racing. While you might only bet once a year, understanding the trackside lingo is a surefire way to silence your cocky mate who’s ‘expertly’ picked one too many winners. Deciphering the confusing, arcane and downright non-sensical world of horse racing jargon doesn’t need to be an impossible task.

To help you drop the slang like a seasoned pro this racing season, here’s some of the more colourful, fun and unique terms you need to know:


You’ll probably see them trackside and in the pavilion, but you’d never guess their title was so obvious. The ‘bagman’ refers to the bookmaker’s associate. He’s the one – no surprises here – holding a bag and setting up the sign with its list of horse names and odds.


This isn’t exactly some Oliver Twist type situation, but its close enough. When your mate offers you a winning tip and follows up by demanding a percentage of the plunder, just call them out for the ‘coat-tugger’ they are and put them in their place.


Its not as bad as it sounds, we promise. In a racing context, ‘dead’ refers to a favoured runner that drifts concerningly before disappointing.


Aka the ‘Desperation Stakes’. As the final race draws closer your final roll of the dice beckons. How much are you willing to gamble in that last-ditch effort to exit the track in front? Highly likely to end in drunken tears.


Fool anyone into thinking you’re a racing pro and refer to a jockey as a ‘hoop’. They’ll either think you’re an expert or straight-up pulling their leg.


It should be obvious – even to a horse racing rookie – that a horse sweating profusely usually means trouble. Avoid at all costs. Nothing depletes a horse’s energy levels faster than stress.


No, this isn’t a reference to a pregnant filly. ‘Knocked up’ is the period when a horse becomes noticeably tired near the end of its race and finishes a long way behind the winner.


There’s always someone who is deadset dreadful on the punt. Just make sure it’s a mate and not you.


If you hear that your horse is off the bit be afraid, be very afraid. Basically, your pick is being ridden on a loose rein so it can gallop freely. This means faster exertion and, if a long way from the finish line, definite trouble.


During a race any number of incidents which have the potential to influence the outcome can occur. Occasionally, connections will lodge an objection in response to one or more of these incidents. Executives then decide based on the evidence whether the result should be overturned.


The term you’ll hear a lot but never fully understand. While you’d be right in thinking ‘quin’ refers to five, a ‘quinella’ is where you pick two horses to place in the top two, regardless of the order.


Hands down the most uttered phrase at any horse racing event. Use in relation to a horse at a long price with a much lower chance of winning. Pick a roughie for the win and your earnings are likely to be significantly higher.


They’re in the thick of the action on race day and get the ball rolling when it comes to grooming and saddling the horses for the big race. There’s probably no strapper more familiar than Steve Payne, brother of the Melbourne Cup’s first female winner, Michelle Payne.


The magic horse that pulls a magnificent and memorable victory from back the of the pack. Mention that this was the winning style of Diamond Jubilee champion Black Caviar for bonus points.


A widely used reference to the topweight or the horse bearing the No. 1 saddlecloth. Based on the organisation of handicap weights, the best horse normally carries the most weight. Lesson: when in doubt back the toppy.

So now you sound like a pro, it’s time to make sure you look like one. Read up on how to look your best on all the main days, from Derby Day, Melbourne Cup Day, to Oaks and Stakes.