Oct 1, 2021


All thoroughbreds have their birthday on January 1st regardless of the actual date they were born.

Auction Maiden

An Auction Maiden is a type of race for two-year old racehorses who have previously been sold at public auction for less than an amount specified in the race conditions.

“Back at the knee”

A confirmation term which describes the position of the knee. Ideally the bones in and leading up to the knee should line up in a balanced manner. If a horse is “back at the knee” it means the knee is behind a straight line from the point of shoulder to the hoof.

Black type 

A horse will earn “black type” when it has won or been placed in a Group or Listed race. If the horse has won a “black type” race, their name will be capitalised and in bold on a sales catalogue. Horses with “black type” in their pedigree will often demand a higher price because they are related to high performing racehorses. This is important to consider if you are purchasing an unraced horse. 


This refers to a horse who has a tendency to break blood vessels during a race.


Equipment worn by the horse. They sit over the head and around the eyes, limiting the horse's vision with the aim of reducing distractions and increasing focus. Marked as “b” in the racecard.

Bloodstock Agent 

Bloodstock agents are there to assist buyers and sellers of horses for breeding and racing. Agents are usually hired on a commission basis and can offer an expert eye in understanding a horse’s pedigree and conformation.  


This is a vice (see below) which is notifiable in the catalogue. It refers to a horse’s tendency to circle round the box when stabled.


The breeder of a horse is the person or operation responsible for bringing together the horse’s sire and dam. Some breeders are more successful than others and this is  an important consideration when purchasing a racehorse.  

Breeze- up sales

This is a  sale of unraced horses in which the perspective lots can be viewed doing a short gallop “breeze” before they are auctioned. The most common Breeze-up sales are of unraced two year olds.

Broken in / Backed

A horse which has been trained to be ridden under saddle. An unbroken horse is considered untried and has never been ridden.


Also known as a National Hunt Flat race, bumpers are races which are run on National Hunt cards but are flat races rather than over obstacles. They come in two forms:

Firstly and most commonly they are for young horses who have not raced over obstacles or on the flat. They are used  to give the horse experience before they run in a hurdle or chase. Horses can run in a maximum of four bumpers.

Secondly, they can be found in the form of Jumpers Bumpers. These are restricted to National Hunt horses and usually take place when there has been a period with little or no National Hunt racing due to bad weather etc.

Cannon Bone

The cannon bone is in the horse’s lower leg between the knee and the fetlock, it bears the most weight of any bone in a horse’s body.


A horse that runs over National Hunt steeplechase fences


Represented by a “p” in the race card. These are strips of sheepskin  attached to the side of a horse’s bridle. They partially obscure a horse’s rear vision, with the aim of getting the horse to concentrate on racing.

Claiming Race

A race in which each horse’s weight is determined by the price placed on them by connections. The lower the claiming price, the lower the weight. Horses can be ‘claimed’ (bought) by other owners/trainers for the specified price after the race.


There are five classic races in GB every season, all for 3yr old flat horses. They are Group 1 races with prestigious history , and winning one considerably enhances breeding prospects. The classics are: 1000gns for fillies, 2000gns for colts, The Oaks for fillies, The Derby for colts, and The St Leger for both sexes. By winning three classics you have completed the triple crown, a feat last achieved by Nijinsky in 1970.


ThoroughBid charges 5% of the auction price to the purchaser on top of their final bid.

Conditions Race

A race in which horses are allotted extra weight according to factors such as sex, age, whether they are a previous winner etc.


Conformation is the physical appearance of the horse which includes the arrangement of muscle, bone and other body tissue. It is the sum of these body parts and how they blend together which determines the acceptability or unacceptability of a horse’s conformation. It is important to consider that some horses can have great pedigrees but without good confirmation they can be unattractive to buyers. 

  • Some key things to consider below:
    Balance – Is the horse well-proportioned? Does the frame suit its muscle?
    Bone – Does it appear to be substantial – not too light?
    Intelligence – Does the horse seem in control, aware of its surroundings, alert?
    Athleticism – Does the horse look physically fit and capable? 


A consignor is usually an agent for a seller at an auction.


This is a notifiable vice (see below). It is also called wind-sucking and refers to a horse grabbing hold of a solid item and sucking in air.


The mother of a horse


Grandfather of a horse – sire of the said horse’s dam.


There are 8 furlongs in 1 mile. Therefore 1 furlong is 220yds. In the UK and Ireland all races are measured in furlongs, but in other jurisdictions races are often measured in metres. 1 furlong is 200m. There are 1600m in 1 mile.

Half Brother/Sister

This is when two horses share the same dam (mother). If they share the same father they are not referred to as half-brothers/sisters, this is due to the potential large amount of horses a sire (father) will be responsible for each  year.


A racing category where each horse is allocated a rating on its previous performance, and carries a corresponding weight to their rating to ensure fair competition out on the track. This should also produce competitive racing. 


The handicapper is a  BHA official responsible for allocating a handicap rating to each horse, and the corresponding weight that needs to be carried.


A horse who runs in hurdle races.


Small versions of steeplechase fences


The Hocks correspond to human ankles. The point of the hock is about  halfway down a horse’s hind leg.


A horses feet. There is a saying “no foot, no horse”. A 500kg racehorse needs to withstand the equivalent of 100 times the force of gravity on each hoof with every stride. So Good feet are important .

Juvenile hurdler

The youngest category of hurdler – juvenile hurdlers are those that turn four years of age (on January 1st ) during the season in which they begin their hurdling career.

Level weights

When all horses are carrying the same weight. Major championship races, such as the Derby on the Flat or the Cheltenham Gold Cup over jumps, are run at level weights. There are still some allowances for age and sex (e.g. mares receive a 5lb allowance from male horses in the Cheltenham Gold Cup).

Listed Race

A class of race which is just below a Group /Graded quality race but in which a horse can still achieve black type.


A horse that has yet to win a race. Maiden races are restricted to these horses.

Maiden handicap

A handicap race for maidens aged three or above that have run at least four times and have a maximum rating of 70.

Median auction maiden

A race for two-year-olds by stallions that had one or more yearling sold in the previous year with a median price not exceeding a specified figure.

Middle distances

On the Flat, races beyond a mile and up to 1m6f are the middle distances. A middle-distance horse is one that runs mainly over such distances or is regarded as being suitable for those distances.

National Hunt Racing

Racing over fences or hurdles; officially referred to as Jump racing.

Novice auction

A race for novices sold at public auction as yearlings or two-year-olds for a price not exceeding a specified figure.

Novice stakes

A Flat race for two-year-olds or three-year-olds that have not won more than twice.


A handicap on the Flat for two-year-old horses.

On the bridle

Describes a horse running comfortably in a race - travelling within its comfort zone. A horse that wins ‘on the bridle’ is regarded as having won easily.

“Over at the knee”

A  term used to describe confirmation. Ideally the bones in and leading up to the knee should line up in a balanced manner.  A horse “over at the knee” is tilted forward so the knees are more towards being over the toes than in line.


Part of the leg of a horse which sits between the fetlock and the top of the hoof.


This is one of the first things to check when purchasing a horse. A sire that has produced valuable winners will, of course, be highly sought after, and so the more successful and fashionable he is, the more his offspring will warrant. Sires can produce wildly different offspring so it is important to consider what you will be looking for, whether that be a speedy sort, a progressive horse, or a stayer.  

It is equally important to look at the dam’s pedigree too, has she any previous offspring and have they been successful, or have they not made it to a racecourse which could indicate injury issues? The late Sir Henry Cecil famously said that ‘all sires are excellent horses, but I feel 75% of the breeding comes from the dam’s side.’  

Penalised horses

Horses that have incurred a weight penalty as a result of previous successes.


Additional weight carried by a horse on account of previous wins. In a handicap, a penalty is added to a horse’s original weight if it has won in between being entered for the race and running in it. This is because the handicapper has not had the opportunity to re-assess that horse’s handicap rating. A penalty is shown after the horse’s name (ex6) 6 being the of pounds extra the horse will carry.


 A point-to-point is an amateur form of horse racing over fences. Many horses will appear in these races before they compete in National Hunt races or after their National Hunt career is over.  


Training a horse for jumping.


The potential of any given horse.

Second string

The stable’s second choice from two or more runners in a race.

Selling plate/selling race

A Low-class race in which the winner is offered at auction afterwards; other horses in these type of  races may be claimed for a fixed sum. If the winning stable buys back its own horse it is said to be ‘bought in’. The racecourse receives a percentage of the selling price of each horse.


Father of a horse.


A horse that specialises in running over the shortest distances (five and six furlongs) on the Flat.

Sprint races

Flat races run over a distance of five or six furlongs.


A horse that specialises in racing over long distances (two miles and above) on the Flat.

Staying chaser

A horse that races over three miles or more over fences.

Staying on

When a horse is finishing strongly in a race.

Staying races

Flat races run over a distance of two miles or more.


A race over fences, open ditches and water jumps, run over distances from two miles up to four and a half miles.


All the horses in a particular training stable.


A farm where horses are mated. Home to stallions, mares and youngstock.

Supplementary entry

Major races such as the Derby, which have an early initial entry date and several forfeit stages, often allow additional entries to be made in the week leading up to the race, subject to a substantial fee. A horse entered at this stage is known as a supplementary entry and the fee payable is known as the supplementary entry fee. Supplementary entries mean that a major race can have the best possible field, as a horse may not be deemed worthy of a Derby entry as a yearling (possibly on account of its pedigree or because of the owner ) but then shows unexpected ability once its racing career has started.


A breed of horse used for racing. They have been selectively bred over generations for specific qualities.

Turn of foot

Refers to the ability for a horse to accelerate during the final stages of a race.

Types of Horse

  • Broodmare: A mare who is used for breeding.
  • Colt: An ungelded male horse aged 4 yrs and under
  • Entire Horse: An ungelded horse who is 5 yrs old or older.
  • Filly: A  female horse aged 4 years and under
  • Gelding: A  male horse which has been castrated. Almost all male national hunt horses are gelded.  
  • Mare: A mare is a female horse aged over five yrs. 
  • Store: Is a young horse bred for National Hunt racing but as yet unbroken.
  • Yearling: A yearling is a young horse, either male or female, that is between one and two years old, they are not yet fully physically mature. 


The seller of a horse.

Vendor buy-back

When the seller of a horse is top bidder, but wishes the sale to be recognised rather than marked as unsold.


When a vet carries out a formal assessment of a horse's capabilities based on the job the horse is required to do.


Undesirable habits which should be declared in a catalogue by the vendor.


This is a notifiable vice (see above).It involves the horse swaying side to side consistently for  a period of time.


A late addition to the catalogue is deemed a wildcard.


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