When you look at a humble horse racing card, you might think you need a degree in cryptography to work out what all of the different abbreviations mean.
Well, wonder no more.
Here’s a guide to all of the different letters, symbols and abbreviations you will see on a racecard or hear said on a racing broadcast.
Many of these are crucial to understanding more about a horse and their formline, so it’s well worth bookmarking this page for future reference.
After all, the better informed you are the more realistic your decisions and predictions are likely to be.
Am – Amateur
For the most part, jockeys are considered to be professional sportsmen and women when they get paid for their endeavours. But others, such as the 2022 Grand National winner Sam Waley-Cohen, have retained their amateur status. Where you see ‘AM’ next to a jockey’s name, this denotes that they are an amateur.
App – Apprentice
Apprentice jockeys compete in their own designated races, but often you will see an apprentice compete against the pros on any given racecard. The ‘APP’ abbreviation confirms their apprentice status, and you may also see a number in brackets next to their name – this indicates the weight they are claiming, which differs depending on the number of winners they have had.
AW – All Weather
Most of UK and Irish racing’s major races are contested on turf, but there are still plenty of all-weather tracks – including Kempton, Lingfield and Wolverhampton – where meetings are held. Typically hosting Flat races, all-weather tracks often host evening racing, and take centre stage when turf meetings are cancelled due to frozen or waterlogged ground.
B – Blinkers
A horse can have all manner of abbreviations and letters next to their name on the racecard. B stands for blinkers, and denotes that that’s the headgear a particular horse will be wearing.
BAR – Bar
During a televised meeting, you will typically see the odds of the favourites displayed on screen. But those with less of a chance don’t appear in such graphics, and instead will be grouped under bar status. When you see ‘20/1 BAR’ in large field races like the Grand National, it means that all horses not specifically mentioned are priced at 20/1 or longer.
BD – Brought Down
When you examine a horse’s form, you may see BD for a particular run. This means they were brought down by another runner, and didn’t complete the race.
BF – Beaten Favourite
The BF abbreviation is applied to horses that were the beaten favourite last time out – this is something used by punters to determine a horse’s form and quality.
BOG – Best Odds Guaranteed
Almost universally offered by bookmakers these days, Best Odds Guaranteed ensures you are paid out at the most agreeable price on winning bets. It could be the odds you take, first show or the SP (starting price).
C – Course
Quite simply, a horse with a ‘C’ next to their name shows they have performed well at this particular course before. Typically, a gold ‘C’ means they have won, while a silver ‘C’ confirms they have placed.
CD – Course & Distance
Similarly to C above, a CD next to a horse’s name confirms they have run well at this particular course and distance before.
Ch – Chase
National Hunt racing typically has three types of renewal: bumper, hurdle and chase (races on the flat are also sometimes held during a jumps meeting). Chase racing typically takes take place over distances of two furlongs or more, and the fences are typically taller, wider and stiffer than hurdles.
Cls – Class
Races are run in different classes, and generally the lower the number the more prestigious the race, and its runners, are.
D – Distance
See ‘C’ and ‘CD’ above.
FAV – Favourite
A simple shortening for favourite is FAV, and this is used to highlight the betting market’s preference in a race.
F – Fell
An ‘F’ on a horse’s formline confirms that they fell in that particular race.
Gd – Grade
All UK jumps races are given a grade based upon their prestige and prize money. Grade 1 is the best, down through 2, 3, Listed and beyond.
Gp – Group
While races over fences are graded as above, those on the Flat are grouped instead. Group 1 renewals are considered the most prestigious, followed by 2, 3 etc.
Hcap – Handicap
Races run under handicap rules may have ‘hcap’ to denote them as such on a racecard.
H – Hurdle
A National Hunt race contested over hurdles will be denoted on your card by a ‘H’ or sometimes ‘Hur’.
Hd – Head
When discussing distances that a horse has recently won or lost by, ‘Hd’ confirms the distance was a head.
JF – Joint Favourite
It’s rare, but occasionally two or more horses will be sent off at the same price. If they are the favourites, ‘JF’ confirms they are the joint market protagonists.
List – Listed
A Listed race is one ranked just below Grade or Group standard, and can be run on the Flat or over obstacles.
LTO – Last Time Out
Punters use recent form as a guide in their betting, and on that note ‘LTO’ stands for Last Time Out.
Mdn – Maiden
Quite simply, a maiden horse is one that has never won. Therefore, maiden races are open to those yet to get a victory under rules to their name.
NHF – National Hunt Flat Race
As mentioned, while the National Hunt is typically concerned with racing over obstacles, there are occasionally races run on the flat – often as the last of the day’s action.
Nk – Neck
Nk is an explanatory abbreviation that tells us a horse won by, or lost by, the distance of a neck.
Nov – Novice
A novice is a race type for horses that haven’t won in that sphere prior to the start of the current season. So, a horse that has won over hurdles can still be considered a novice when it goes chasing.
NR – Non Runner
A horse declared a non-runner is usually symbolised by NR on the racecard.
Nse – Nose
The slenderest of margins, horse races can be won or lost by a nose. This is shown as ‘Nse’ on a racecard.
OR – Official Rating
To be used as a guide only, the OR is the Official Rating given to a horse by the handicapper based on their form and pedigree.
P, P1 – Cheek Pieces
A ‘P’ next to a horse’s name confirms they are wearing cheek pieces. A P1 shows that this is their first start in the headgear.
PU – Pulled Up
A horse’s formline showing ‘PU’ reveals that they were pulled up by their jockey in that particular outing.
R – Refusal
An ‘R’ on a horse’s formline shows that their race ended when they refused to jump a particular fence.
RR – Refused to Race
Not to be confused with a refusal, RR is used to show a horse that Refused to Race at all.
R4 – Rule 4
The betting market is skewed by a non-runner in the majority of cases. Bets placed before the NR are known are subject to Rule 4 deductions, which will see you handed a revised payout based on the new odds for the field.
Shd – Short Head
A horse can win or lose by a short head – shown on a formline as ‘Shd’.
SP – Starting Price
As you may know, betting odds fluctuate right up until the moment the horses are under starter’s orders. At this point, the SP (starting price) is determined using data from numerous bookmaking sources.
UR – Unseated Rider
The presence of ‘UR’ on a horse’s form guide confirms they unseated their rider in that run.
W1, W2 etc – Wind Surgery
The ‘W’ next to a horse’s name on a racecard reveals that it has had wind surgery, which can sometimes precipitate better form. The number next to the W confirms how many races the horses has had since their surgery.