Horse Betting Phrases You May Not have Heard About Ever

April 21, 2018 by David Nugent

Horse RacingHorse racing has been associated with gambling from times immemorial. Right from the days of ancient Rome and even earlier there would be bets placed on the result of horses raced by soldiers and noblemen.

Today horse racing is one of the most well-known sports with which gambling is associated, and you will find every major sports book an sports betting operation has horse racing on its schedule of games for which wagers are accepted.

For every game or sport that involves wagering, there will be a set of terms and phrases that form the fundamental vocabulary that people involved with the game should know.

These words and phrases refer to different aspects of activities involved in the act of wagering on the sport/game or the game itself. Some may call it jargon, but it is necessary as they together make up the language of gambling associated with the specific game or sport.

This is the case with horse racing too. There are specific terms and coinages that are used to describe specific activities, moves, categories, types, and more within the large domain that is horse racing. There are terms used to denote the different kinds of horses, and there are also terms used to refer to a specific kind of bet, for instance.

10 Obscure Phrases To Surprise Your Fellow Horse Bettors With

On this page we take a look at 10 phrases associated with horse betting that some may consider obscure. Obscure or not, our take is that these are terms associated with the sport and therefore important to know, even if they may not be the most relevant.

1. On the nose

This term does not refer to your desire to sock it to the nose of the bookie when the horse you have bet on loses, and this happens ritualistically every time you bet on a horse. The term ‘on the nose’ refers to the act of placing a bet on just one possibility – the horse you are betting on is only going to win. Anything other than winning – a second finish or something like that, for instance – is not an option.

2. Bridge jumper

This is a very interesting term, though a little obscure because you do not see it used in everyday horse racing or betting parlance. So who is a bridge jumper? A bridge jumper is someone who places a large wager – usually way bigger than what you would normally see at the races – on one single horse. There is a reason why this person is called a bridge jumper: of course when he wins he will win unbelievably big. However, should he lose, i.e. the horse he bet on comes in second or third, or worse, one of the options he could possibly entertain is to jump off the first bridge he comes across.

3. Charley horse

Now this is a term that can have you scratching your head: what does it mean, and why on earth would someone want to use a term as obscure (and grammatically incorrect-sounding, if I may add) in horse racing? If it is any consolation, this term in modern day usage has nothing to do with horse racing; however the phrase owes its origins to the world of horse racing.

In the real world it means a tightening of the calf muscle or thigh muscle that causes you to hobble, just like a racing horse or workhorse that is now not able to race because of a hobbling gait and stiffness while moving. There was in fact a pitcher in baseball by the name Charlie ‘Old Hoss’ Radbourn and he seemed to suffer from this malady. With this background, the name does not seem too far-fetched after all.

4. Give and take

This is a term that originates in horse racing and is now considered obscure because the scenario it represented doesn’t work anymore. In the 18th century there was the give and take plate: this was the prize you won at a horse race where the weight of the horse determined the amount of weight or load he carried during the race. Effectively, heavier horses carried more weight and lighter horses carried less. As you know, this is a horse racing term that has made its way into the language of our daily lives.

5. Betting on the running mate

This is a very simple term that has become somewhat obscure in horse racing but is used regularly in our everyday lingo. The running mate is the horse that sets the pace for another horse. Can the running mate end up winning the race? On the horse racing tracks, this is possible, yes. And that is why you may want to place a bet on the running mate as well.

6. Jolly

This term in horsebetting does not represent the state of mind of the person who has placed the bet or the demeanor of the person accepting the bet. Jolly is a term that one uses colloquially when referring to the horse that is touted to be the favorite to win a race.

7. Canadian a.k.a. Super Yankee

This is a term that you find being used a bit every now and then. The Canadian or Super Yankee bet refers to a cache of bets all combined together. Specifically, this term is used to denote a bag of 26 bets. The beauty of this term is that the bets involve 5 selections from a range of events where each selection is not related in any way to the other events.

8. Goliath

This horse betting term has its origins in the legend of David and Goliath, specifically the character of the giant Goliath. In horse betting parlance, a Goliath is a set of 247 bets made on 8 selections; these selections have to mandatorily be in separate events.

9. Maiden

This is a term that you find used in all the different forms of horse racing. Specifically, it refers to a horse that has not won the specific kind of race the bet is associated with even once, and is hence a maiden. This term applies to different forms of horse racing, including:

  • Flat races
  • National Hunt flat races
  • Steeplechases
  • Hurdle races

10. Ringer

This is a term that may not seem to fit into the scenario of a horse race too well, but actually fits right in! The term ringer refers to a horse that has entered a race under another name. In most standard situations, you will find that the ringer is a good and fit horse that is used to take the position of a horse of inferior quality compared to it.

David Nugent Editor

First off, I want to say hi and wish a warm welcome to all gambling aficionados out there! My name is David Nugent and I am editor-in-chief of I have always enjoyed various sports, primarily soccer, as I am a die-hard Everton fan.

Over time, I learned more about sports betting and discovered the fascinating online gambling industry. Eventually,...

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