There are many fates that can befall a horse in a race over hurdles or fences.
They could win, of course, finish in the places or reach the finishing line with daylight separating them and the leaders at the front of the field.
But then, they aren’t guaranteed to finish the race at all.
For those horses that don’t pass the finish post, there’s typically four different explanations as to why that might be so, and it’s useful for punters to know the specific differences between this quartet.
Why? Well because it comes up on racecards and gives you an idea of how a horse has behaved in the past, and might even give some insight into the horse’s temperament.
What Does Fallen Mean in Horse Racing?
This category of non-finishing is perhaps the most straightforward to explain and understand.
A horse that fails to make it over an obstacle – or hits the deck upon landing – without any interference from another runner is considered to be a faller.
Maybe they hit the hurdle and fence, causing them to fall, or they take a tumble when landing on soft ground… either way, this is the meaning of a ‘faller’ in horse racing.
The key thing here is that the horse fell because of its own misjudgement or the jockey’s mistake, and no other rider or horse was involved.
Note that this is distinctly different from being ‘brought down’, which we will come onto shortly.
What Does Pulled Up Mean in Horse Racing?
Sometimes, a jockey will take the decision to pull up their horse in the middle of a race.
That’s not because they don’t think they can win or place on a tiring horse – it is to protect the animal from harm when the rider senses that they are struggling with the pace of a race, where they are idling in their work or perhaps when they have hit the previous obstacle but stayed on their hooves.
As horses become tired, the risk of injury increases – especially in hurdle or chase races, and so they are pulled up in order to protect their welfare.
Even quality operators are pulled up from time to time, which usually occurs when the ground doesn’t suit them.
It’s rubbish for punters who have bet on them, but it’s safest for the horse at that moment in time, and nothing is more important than that.
What Does Brought Down Mean in Horse Racing?
One of the most annoying things for horse racing punters is when their selection is brought down.
This is a fall that is of no fault of their own – another horse can fall taking a jump or on landing, and the commotion then brings them down as well.
Loose horses, without a jockey controlling them, can be a particular nuisance in National Hunt racing and have been known to bring down others by getting in their way.
When a horse suffers the fate of being brought down, you will see it reflected in their form line on most racecards as ‘BD’.
Even the best horse in the world can be brought down by another, so if you do see BD on a racecard do not mistake that horse for a faller, as the two are different.
What Does Unseated Rider Mean in Horse Racing?
You may have seen ‘UR’ detailed next to a horse on a racecard.
This stands for ‘unseated rider’, and as the name suggests occurs when a horse is rid of their jockey – that generally happens when they jump a fence, although it’s not that uncommon that a rider can be unseated on the flat or even on the start line too.
Under the rules of racing, a jockey can remount their horse before a race has begun if they are unseated – however, as soon as they are under starter’s orders a rider is prohibited from remounting their horse thanks to a rule change that came into force in 2009.
That prevents a repeat of the amazing goings-on of a race at Southwell in 2002, when legendary jockey A.P. McCoy was unseated, got a lift in a Land Rover to collect his horse (who had been caught at the winning line), remounted it, rode it back to the part of the track where he was unseated and then carried on to the finishing line as the winner!