Betting terms decoded (and how to use in conversation)


Interpreting racing terminology can be a baffling experience. For those who don’t frequent the horse races regularly, it can be tricky business decoding exactly what is being discussed in a conversation.

If you’re left thinking “what’s a bookie?”, and “since when are they racing ponies instead of horses?”, this list of betting terms with an example of use in conversation will have you speaking the language in no time.


Bookie / Bookmaker

A person (usually at horse races) whose job is to manage betting – to take punter’s bets, calculate odds and pay winnings.

E.g. “Have you decided on a horse? I’m going to the bookie soon if you would like to join?”



A type of exotic wager, where two horses to place first and second in a particular order in its race

E.g. “That’s a risky move going with an exacta!”


Exotic wagers

A type of bet, allowing for betting on multiple horses in a single bet.

E.g. “I think I’ll try my luck on an exotic wager.”



Horse picked as the most likely to win

E.g. “I hear Goldie Horse is the favourite for race 7.”


Form Guide

Information containing the basic summary of the race, including the horse name, weight to be carried, barrier position, jockey and trainer.

E.g. “I saw in the Form Guide John Smith is the jockey for Goldie Horse.”



Placing a small bet

E.g. “My friends and I enjoyed a flutter at the races last weekend.”



Each horse is allocated a weight to carry, so all horses run on a fair and equal basis.

E.g. “What’s the handicap for this race?”



The chance of winning.

E.g. “The odds are four to one.”



A straight wager, where a horse finishes in the top two, top three, top four and sometimes also top five in a race. A Place bet will win if the selection you bet on is among those placed.

E.g. “I’m going with a straight wager on this race with a place bet.”



Slang for horse or pony (person), particularly used in horse racing.

E.g. “I see Johnny is betting on the ponies again.”



Informal name for a person who gambles or places a bet.

E.g. “He’s a regular punter at the races.”



A type of exotic wager, where two horses to place first and second in any order in its race.

E.g. “I can’t decide over these two horses, I think I’ll take my chances on a quinella.”



The amount of money risked on the result of a horse race, also known as a wager.

E.g. “Sarah has a $100 stake in the final race.”


Straight wagers

A type of bet, allowing for betting on one horse in a single bet.

E.g. “I’ll start with a straight wager and bet Goldie Horse to win.”



A type of exotic wager, where four horses will finish first, second, third and fourth in a particular order.

E.g. “I went for a superfecta on race 2. I’ve studied the form guide and decided to try my luck.”



A type of exotic wager, where three horses place first, second and third in a particular order in the race.

E.g. The boys went in on a trifecta and won $3000!”



Horse that crosses the finish line first and is placed first in its race

Eg. I’ve had a win! The horse I bet on won its race!


NB: All names are superficial and in no way, represent a real life horse or jockey. Nor do the examples offer advice in betting – the examples are completely and limited to, how a term could be applied in a sentence. Coffs Harbour Racing Club does not encourage gambling.