As a fan and seasoned better, it’s important that you understand all of the abbreviations and letters in horse racing. Each one has a specific meaning, and if you’re aware of what they stand for, you’ll be in a better position to make informed bets.
Reading a racecard properly could be the first move towards that winning payout. In this blog post, we’ll discuss why these letters are used, what each one stands for and how they can help you win more money!
Here’s a quick guide to some of the most commonly used abbreviations and letters in horse racing:
How’s the going?
- F or FM – Firm
- G or GD – Good
- HD – Hard
- HY or HVY – Heavy
- S or SFT – Soft
- Stand – Standard AW
- YLD – Yielding (IRE)
The condition of the ground is crucial to know when placing a bet because certain horses may be better equipped to run in different conditions. Some may have only performed well in the past on firm ground whereas it may be known that a certain jockey or trainer practises on a soft going.
The softer ground will produce slower races in general than a harder ground but any course labelled with HD is usually deemed unfit for racing. Firm or anything ‘wetter’ is what you’ll usually see on a UK racecourse. This is all food for thought when deciphering a racecard.
Age and sex
- C – Colt (male, aged four or younger)
- F – Filly (female, aged three or younger)
- G – Gelding (castrated male of any age)
- H – Horse (either gender, aged five years
- M – Mare (female, aged three or older)
- R – Rig (uncastrated male of any age that appears castrated)
Usually, you’ll struggle to find any horses who race over the age of eight years old. While this may seem very young – they actually tend to peak around four years old. This is when they will be at their fastest and after five, tend to slow down.
Determining the age with these letters in horse racing can therefore be advantageous for betters. When older horses race younger ones, a weight allowance is put in place for those under two years old. This is because horses at peak performance typically outmatch younger ones fairly significantly.
- F – Furlong
- HD – Head
- L – Length
- M – Mile
- NK – Neck
- NSE – Nose
- SHD – Short Head
- Y – Yards
- DIST – Distance
Things like nk, hd, shd and nse are the shortest distances a horse can be beaten by another. This helps in determining close calls and mitigating draws where possible. Luckily, because of these distance rules, you will rarely see a dead heat.
Favourites and riding history
- BF – Beaten favourite in the last race
- BTN – Beaten
- C – Previous course winner
- C – This could also mean co-favourite of 3+
- CD – Previous winner of this course and distance
- D – Previous winner at this distance
- J – Joint favourite of 2
- N/R – Non-Runner
- TS – Top Speed
- W1 – The horse’s first run since wind surgery
- W2 – The horse’s second run since wind surgery
- A 1 or 2 next to the trainer’s name shows a horse having its first or second race for that trainer
All of these letters in horse racing can point you in the direction of a tipster’s best pick. If they’ve won previously under the same race conditions and or the same course – chances are, they’re going to perform well again.
Although, sometimes you need to remember that while the horse may have been beaten a race prior, there could have been reasons behind poor performance. A change in going conditions or recent health issues might not affect their current race. This will always be taken into account when tipsters choose their favourites to win.
These represent the finishing positions of a horse. You’ll usually be able to see the last five or six on a racecard to determine the likelihood of a win this time around. The number on the right-hand side reflects the most recent race, working backwards to older runs.
- 1-9 – Across all-weather. Jumps will be in bold
- 0 – When the horse finishes outside of the top 9
- B – Brought down
- C – Carried out
- D – Disqualification
- F – Fell
- HR – Hit Rails
- L – Left at the start
- O – Ran Out
- P – Pulled Up
- R – Refused a jump
- S – Slipped up
- U – Caused jockey to become unseated
- V – Void Race
The letters in horse racing can tell you a lot about a horse’s form. If they’ve been disqualified or pulled up often, it might not be worth betting on them. However, if they’ve only fallen once in their last few races – it may not be a significant enough issue to worry about.
Type of race
- AM – Amateur
- APP – Apprentice
- AUC – Auction
- AW – All-Weather
- CH – Chase
- CLS – Class
- COND – NH Conditional
- DIV – Division
- GD – Grade 1,2 or 3 for jump races
- GP – Group 1,2 or 3 for flat races
- HCAP – Handicap
- HUR or H – Hurdle
- LIST – Listed
- MDN – Maiden
- NHF – National Hunt Flat Race
- NOV – Novice
- SELL – Selling
Most trainers concentrate their efforts on either flat or jump races. However, horses can readily switch between the two if trained for both.
In a race with jumps, you will often find either hurdles or ‘steeple chase’ fences. This is important to know because the chase fences are much bigger – used for experienced jumpers. If a particularly young horse is taking on this type of race, it could be worth waiting a while to see how they fair for the first race or two.
Similarly, the weight carried by horses in the 2 race types can vary considerably. With flat racing more reliant on speed – you will find lighter jockeys. If a horse is switching between disciplines, it is worth noting this alongside who is riding them.
Using the letters in horse racing
Of course, not forgetting the importance of luck in running, picking a winner boils down to a handful of factors covered on a race card. You can often make an educated guess about performance by reference utilising its age and history.
Pairing that with knowledge of the going and even tips on jockeys can give you the edge.
Understanding these abbreviations will allow you to find out a lot more about the horse, its form and the race they’re running in. This gives you a much better chance of picking a winner alongside your credible tips from our reviewed Tipsters!
The race cards can point you in the direction of the best pick. If they’ve won before, they might win again. But, you always have to remember that anything can happen on the day of the race. These letters in horse racing are just a guide!
Good luck and happy betting!