Harness Racing Terms
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ABANDONED - A race meeting which has been cancelled because a club did not receive sufficient nominations to be able to stage it, or because of inclement weather which made racing on the track unsafe. A race meeting may also be abandoned part way through because of inclement weather.
ALL CLEAR - Signified by a siren at the end of a race, the all clear means that the stewards deem the finishing order of horses is correct and bets may be paid out. It also means that no protest or objection has been made by the connections of any horse in the race.
ALL-THE-WAY WIN - To lead from start to finish in a race.
ATTACK - To challenge the leading horse during a race, in an attempt to take the lead. An attack can sap the horse's energy, or even that of the leader, and may leave both of those horses with little in reserve for the finish.
BACK MARKER - In a standing start event, which is handicapped, the horse who is given the biggest handicap is known as the backmarker. For instance, in a race five horses may start off the front (who travel the nominated race distance), three off ten metres (who travel the race distance plus an extra ten metres), one off 20 metres and one off 30 metres. The horse starting from 30 metres is known as the back marker.
BACK STRAIGHT - The straight length of the track or paceway farthest away from the spectators and the winning post.
BARRIER - Another term for the mobile barrier. A barrier may also refer to the position a horse has drawn in a mobile event.
BARRIER DRAW - The process which is performed to determine the starting position or barrier for each horse in a race. Generally, the barrier draw is conducted by a computer, however, for special races like the Miracle Mile, the barrier draw may be conducted manually in front of patrons at a paceway.
BEGINNER - A horse which is termed a good beginner is either a pacer which shows a lot of speed at the start of a mobile event, or a trotter or pacer which steps away cleanly from a standing start. Similarly, a poor beginner is a pacer which doesn't have a lot of early speed or a trotter or pacer which doesn't settle into its gait straight away.
BELL - A bell that is rung in the home straight to warn drivers they are about to commence the final lap of the race.
BELL LAP - The last lap of a race, signified by the ringing of the bell.
BETTING RING - An allocated area at the paceway where bookmakers work. Punters go to the betting ring in order to check out the odds of horses in a race and place bets.
BIRD CAGE - The enclosure or place on a paceway where horses are marshalled and paraded for events. The identity brand of each horse is checked during the marshalling period. Also known as the enclosure.
BLOWING UP - A horse which has had a very hard run, is not at its peak fitness, or does not handle the rigours of a race very well, may be referred to as ‘blowing up' after the run. This means the horse is breathing vigorously and excessively.
BOXED IN - A horse that is racing on the rails (or fence) and is surrounded by other horses in front, outside and behind it. A horse that is boxed in is held up and unable to gain a clear passage.
BREAK - To start galloping and lose natural trotting or pacing rhythm. This situation tends to occur more with trotters than pacers.
BROKEN DOWN - A horse which suffers an injury, or develops a condition that makes it unable to race, is referred to as having broken down.
BROODMARE - A female horse, generally retired from racing, used for breeding purposes.
CARD - Another term for fixture or race meeting. For example, a person may refer to there being eight races on the card, which simple means eight races will be staged at that particular meeting.
CART - Another term for sulky.
CHECK - To suffer interference during a race, causing a horse to alter its speed and/or path in a race. A severe check can ruin a horse's chance in a race.
CHOKED DOWN - When a driver tries to get a horse to run at a slowed rate, he or she will sometimes pull its head back, unintentionally cutting off its breathing. This can cause the horse to lose consciousness and collapse on to the track.
CLAIMING RACES - Also known as claimers. These races are made up of runners which can be purchased or ‘claimed' by members of the public at a designated price.
CLASSIC RACE - A race restricted to horses of the one age in which all competitors start off the same mark.
COLOURS - The special colourful jacket worn by drivers when in a race. A horse may only compete in the registered colours of either its owner or trainer. Trainers and owners can choose their own set of colour combinations but must apply to the Harness Racing Authority to have them approved.
COLT - A male horse aged three or under.
COASTING - A horse which is going easily or travelling without pressure in a race, usually in front.
CONDITION - The fitness level of a horse. For example, it may be described as peak racing condition or poor condition.
CRACKING PACE - When the leader/s of a race run at a very quick speed, often in the early stages of a race.
CROSS FIRE - When a horse's hind foot strikes the opposite front foot or leg.
CROSSING - A horse which begins from one of the positions out wider on the track, which moves down to the inside fence, is referred to as crossing to the fence. Likewise, if such a horse has the speed to beat all other horses to the leading position of a race, this is known as crossing to the lead.
DAM - The female parent, or mother, of a horse.
DEAD HEAT - A situation in which the judges cannot separate two or more horses when judging the outcome of a race. These horses are declared as having crossed the finish line at the exact same time. If the position the horses finished in was first, they are said to have dead-heated, if the position the horses finished in was second or third for instance, they are said to have dead-heated for second or third. Triple dead-heats (where three horses cross the line at the same time) do occur, but are quite rare.
THE 'DEATH' - Also known as the death seat. The position outside the leader, one horse off the rails or fence. The death is usually the toughest run in a race because a horse will have to cover more ground than the inside competitors as well as bear the brunt of the wind resistance.
DERBY - A classic race for three-year-old pacers or trotters.
DEVELOPED PRINT - If a judge calls for a developed print, it means he or she has not been able to determine who the winner and/or placegetters of a race are, because they have finished so close together. A camera is fitted into the finish post which takes a photo the minute a horse crosses its infra-red beam. The judge has this photo developed in order to accurately decide the finishing order of horses.
DICTATE TERMS - A driver whose horse is in the lead and is running along at a pace that suits its ability, without any pressure from other runners, is said to be dictating terms. In other words they are calling the shots, and are perfectly placed to win the race.
DISQUALIFICATION - A period of expulsion and unconditional exclusion from the harness racing industry, applied by the Stewards so as to prohibit a person from entering any course during a race meeting, from entering the stable area of any licensed person, and from registering changes of ownership of horses. A trainer or driver may be disqualified for a set period of time for breaking one or more of the rules of harness racing.
DISTANCED - A horse that is out of touch with the rest of the field at the end of the race. This is often referred to as finished distanced.
DOUBLE - If a driver or trainer records two winners at a race meeting, they are said to have recorded a winning double. Likewise, should they win three races, this is known as a winning treble.
DRIVER - The person holding a licence or permit to drive harness horses. There are different types of licences, which correspond to differing levels of experience.
ENCLOSURE - See birdcage.
FACING THE BREEZE - see the "death".
FALSE START - The race starter will declare a false start and order a restart if one or more of the barrier tapes fail to release in a standing start event, or if in a mobile event, a runner, through no fault of its own, has been denied a fair start.
FILLY - A female horse aged three or under.
FENCE - The inside fence is the inside running rail around the race track, while the outside fence is of course, the outside running rail.
FIELD - The final list of horses, selected by the handicapper that will contest the race.
FIRST-UP - The first run a horse has in a new campaign or preparation, usually after having a spell.
FIXTURE - See meeting.
FLOAT - The vehicle by which a horse is transported to the race track. A horse float is pulled by a motor vehicle like a trailer.
FOAL - A newly born horse. Also describes the act of a mare giving birth.
FORCED WIDE - A horse which is forced to move wide on the track (further away from the inside running rail), because of the action of another runner.
FORM - The performance history of a horse. Recent form is included in race books and form guides in an effort to help punters select the horse most likely to win. The form of a horse includes information like the number of starts it has had, the number of wins, seconds and thirds, and the amount of prizemoney it has won. Form is available on this Web site.
FREE-FOR-ALL - A race for open class or top class horses starting off the same mark (starting from the same position).
FREELANCE DRIVER - A driver which doesn't train his or her own horses, and is engaged by other trainers and owners to drive their horses. Freelance drivers generally don't work for any one trainer or owner in particular. If they do, they are more commonly known as that person's stable driver.
FREE LEGGED - A pacer which races without wearing hopples to help maintain its gait is known as a free legged pacer.
FRONT - Also known as the front mark, the front means the handicap mark allotted to those horses to race the minimum advertised distance for any race.
FUTURITY RACES -To enter futurities, regular payments need to be made by the breeder and then the owner to keep the horse eligible to compete. (Examples of these races include the Bathurst Gold Crown and Foster's Australian Gold for two-year-olds). In the case of the Foster's Australian Gold, the horse must also be purchased at a Foster's Australian Gold Yearling Sale to be eligible to compete.
GAIT - Harness horses are divided into two distinct groups, pacers or trotters, depending on their gait when racing. The gait is the manner in which a horse moves its legs when running. The pacer is a horse with a lateral gait, whereas a trotter or squaregaiter has a diagonal gait.
GALLOP - See break.
GATE - Another term for barrier. A horse which will start from position three in a race, is said to have drawn gate three or barrier three.
GEAR - The equipment carried by trotters and pacers. Gear can generally be split into three categories: pads on the legs to prevent self-inflicted injury; equipment to balance a horse in its stride; and equipment to correct waywardness or erratic behaviour. The equipment also helps a driver maintain control. Some horses are not as well-mannered or gaited as others and may require a lugging pole, shadow roll, headcheck, shin boots and/or knee boots.
GELDING - A desexed male horse of any age.
GIG - See sulky.
GOOD HOLD - See under double wraps.
GONE - A horse which has lost all chances of winning in a race, or after racing well for part of the race, then runs out of energy and falls back in the field.
GRAND CIRCUIT - A selection of group one races which are contested by the best pacers in Australia and New Zealand. The Inter Dominion, Miracle Mile, Australian Pacing Championship, Victoria Cup, Queensland Championship and New Zealand Cup are some of the races included in the Australasian Grand Circuit. Points are awarded to the winner and placegetters in each grand circuit event, with the highest point scorer being declared the Grand Circuit Champion for that season of racing.
GREEN - Immature or inexperienced. Young horses, such as two-year-olds may be referred to as being green. As well, a horse of any age which does not have much racing experience, may be referred to as having raced greenly. This generally means the horse in question does a few things wrong when racing.
GROUP RACES - An elite group of races. A group one race is a grand circuit event, free-for-all, handicap or classic event of national importance, which offers minimum prizemoney of $50,000 with respect to pacing events. A provisional group one race is one that has a history of less than ten years. A group two race is a handicap, free-for-all or classic event of major or State importance, where with the exception of Sires' Stakes Finals, the primary eligibility of horses is not restricted by any conditions. Minimum prizemoney must be $20,000 in respect of races for pacers.
GYMKHANA - A further step toward the full race meeting situation, very similar to a trial. The conducting club often offers non-monetary prizes for winners and placegetters.
HANDICAP - The position or mark from which a horse starts during a handicap race. For instance, those horses deemed less likely to win the event will start off the front, while the favoured runner may start off a handicap of 20 metres. This means the favourite will have to cover an extra 20 metres in the race.
HANDICAP RACE - One in which distance allowances are made for the purpose of equalising the horses' chance of winning.
HANGING - The inclination to run in (or out) during a race. When hanging in, a horse will have a tendency to veer towards the inside running rail or fence, while when hanging out, a horse will have a tendency to veer towards the outside running rail. A horse that is hanging will often check other runners which happen to be in its path.
HARNESS - The gear which is used to attach the sulky to a horse, to carry the hopples and to enable the driver to steer the horse.
HEADQUARTERS - The main harness racing track in a particular area. In NSW, headquarters refers to Harold Park, the metropolitan track in that state.
HOME STRAIGHT - The straight length of the track, nearest the spectators, where the finish line is situated. It is called this because it is the final part of the track a horse travels down during a race -- on its run 'home' (or run to the finish line).
HOME TURN - The final turn a horse must travel around before entering the home straight in the run to the finish line.
HOPPLES - The straps which connect the front and rear legs on the same side of a horse. Most pacers wear hopples to help balance their stride and maintain a pacing gait. The length of hopples is adjustable and a trainer registers the length that best suits his or her horse. No alteration to this length can be made without permission.
HORSE - A male horse aged four and over. Also known as an entire.
INCONVENIENCED - The proper term for a horse which is checked.
INDIAN FILE - When a field of horses race in single file, one behind the other.
INTER DOMINION - The most famous and coveted of all harness racing carnivals. Horses from all over Australia and New Zealand vie for the title of Inter Dominion champion. The series is a test of speed and stamina, and consists of three qualifying heats, with the highest point scorers qualifying for the final. The Inter Dominion is held at metropolitan tracks on a rotating basis between major tracks in Australia and New Zealand.
INTRACTABLE - A horse which often does things wrong, like breaking, pulling or hanging during a race, or is very difficult to keep under control.
INQUIRY - Stewards may conduct an inquiry as a result of any incident which may have occurred during a race, to determine whether or not certain drivers and/or horses were responsible for the incident and whether they should receive due punishment. Inquiries are also conducted if a horse returns a positive drug swab, or if a licensed person does not conduct themselves in a manner which brings credit to the industry.
JOG - To pace or trot at a leisurely pace.
JUDGE - The person who decides the official placings and margins for each race or trial. They are also responsible for deciding who the placegetters are in the event of a photo finish or developed print.
JUNIOR DRIVER -- A driver under the age of 23.
JUNIOR DRIVER CONCESSIONS -- Available in NSW to drivers under the age of 23 who have not driven a total of 25 winners at Harold Park Monday or Tuesday meetings, all other NSW tracks and other non-metropolitan tracks. These concessions are only available at Harold Park Friday night meetings when a junior driver has not driven five winners at such meetings or other metropolitan meetings. Trainers can use junior driver concessions (in races so marked) to gain entry to races they may not have been eligible for and/or to draw more favourably.
LAME - The term used to describe a horse which is limping or has difficulty walking properly. Lameness is often caused by an injury or problem with one or more of a horse's feet and/or legs.
LAST HALF - The time recorded by a horse during the last half of the last mile travelled in a race. It is equal to the combined time recorded in the third and fourth sectionals or quarters.
LATE SCRATCHING - A horse which is scratched from a race after acceptances have been declared. Any trainer who scratches a horse after acceptance time without an acceptable reason may be penalised by the Stewards.
LEAD TIME -- The time it takes for a horse to travel from the start of the race to the beginning of the last mile (1609m). For instance, in a 1760m race, the lead time would be recorded during the first 151m (1760-1609). A slow lead time may advantage those horses at the front, while a fast lead time may advantage horses racing at the rear of the field.
LEADER - The horse which is out in front or leading during a race. This term may also be applied to a horse which most commonly wins races when in a leading position.
LEASING - As opposed to buying a harness horse, people have the option of leasing one. Just like some people lease a car instead of paying the money up-front, leasing a horse gives people use of a horse without large capital outlay. An agreement or contract must be drawn up between the two parties, and the lease must be registered with the relevant controlling body.
LET UP - Another term for a spell, however, a let-up usually refers to a short break, not a lengthy spell in the paddock.
LOCKED UP - Another term for being boxed in.
LOOSE REIN - A horse on a loose rein is one which is allowed to run freely, without any pressure from the driver to speed up or slow down.
LUG - The action of a horse that tends to veer away from steering pressure exerted on either rein.
MAIDEN - A horse which has not yet won a race.
MARE - A female horse, aged four and over.
MATURITY STAKES - An event or series of racing events for Sires' Stakes horses that are four years old.
MEETING - A collection of pacing and/or trotting races conducted by a club on the same day or night, forms a race meeting.
MILE RATE -- A calculation for each race distance is applied to the overall time of a race, so as to give a comparison to a mile. It is the approximate time the pacer would have run, had the distance been one mile (1609m). The overall race time is multiplied by 1609 and then divided by the metre length of the race.
MIRACLE MILE - A coveted Grand Circuit race, which is conducted at Harold Park Paceway in Sydney. Each year, the NSW Harness Racing Club invites six champion pacers to contest the exciting event. It is commonly referred to as the Melbourne Cup of harness racing.
MOBILE START - The most commonly used form of starting a race in harness racing in NSW. A mobile barrier consists of two folding arms attached to a motor vehicle. The horses in a race follow the barrier as it gathers speed, until the arms fold back and a start is affected. The vehicle then speeds away out of the path of the horses. At most tracks, six horses are permitted to start abreast from the mobile barrier, with the remaining runners starting behind them on the second row.
NOMINATIONS - A list of the names of horses that have been entered for a race.
NON STARTER - A horse which has failed to come within a reasonable distance of the mobile barrier may be declared as a non-starter of the race by the starter or Stewards. All bets placed on a horse which is later declared as a non-starter, are refunded.
OAKS - A classic race restricted to three-year-old fillies.
OBJECTION - A verbal or written statement against the eligibility of a horse for a particular race, or one made against the judge's placings in a race, after the all clear has been signalled (as opposed to a protest, in which the complaint is lodged before the all clear has been signalled).
ODM - Outside draw mobiles. Horses which are required to requalify before competing again in registered races, may also be excluded from the barrier draw for future events and classified ODM, which means it will automatically be drawn in an outside barrier (such as barrier ten off the second row). A trainer may also request that a horse be declared ODM if they believe it is in the best interests of the horse and other runners.
ODS - Outside draw stands. (Similar to ODM, but in relation to standing start events).
OFFICIAL MARGINS - The length each horse in a race finished behind the winner, as determined by the judge. Official margins between the first and second placegetter, and second and third placegetter, are displayed for public viewing at the paceway.
THE 'ONE-ONE' - The position occupied by the horse immediately behind the death position. It means the said horse is one runner off the rails and one runner back. The one-one is also referred to as the one out, one back trail. It is a desirable position as it provides cover from the wind and is close enough to tackle for the lead.
ONE BACK - The runners behind the leader and the death horse are referred to as being one back. The horses behind these runners would be two back and so on.
ONE OUT - The runners behind the horse in the one-one position are normally referred to as being one out (and two, three or four back etc, depending on its position). Similarly, a horse racing on the outside of the horse in the one-one, would be classified as being two out, a runner outside of this horse would be three out and so on.
ON THE BIT - A horse which is racing well and keenly.
ON THE FENCE/RAILS - A horse racing in a position next to the inside running rail.
ON THE PAINT - A horse racing very close to the inside running rail, almost scraping the paint off the rails so to speak.
ON THE PACE - A horse which is keeping up with the runner which is determining the speed of the race. It means it's right up there with a good chance of winning. In contrast, a horse which is just off the pace, is one which is slightly out of touch, but still has some chance of winning.
OPEN CLASS - Horses, generally four years of age and older, which compete in races open to the most well-performed horses.
OUT OF POSITION - A horse which is not in its designated barrier position at the start of a mobile event is deemed to have been out of position at the start.
OUTSIDE DRAW - The barrier positions furthest away from the inside running rail. For instance, in a ten horse standing start event, barrier six on the front line or barrier ten on the second line, would be considered an outside draw.
OUTSIDE DRIVE - A driver who regularly drives for his own stable, or that of another trainer, who is employed to drive a pacer for someone else, is considered to have picked up an outside drive.
OUTSIDE FENCE - The outside running rail, closest to the spectators.
OVERALL TIME -- This is the time taken to complete the distance of the race, as opposed to the mile rate.
PACING: Pacing is a 'laterial' gait in which the horse moves the legs on the same side back and forward together. Most pacers wear 'hopples' - straps connecting the legs on the same side. Pacing, or 'ambling', is a natural gait for some breeds of horse (as well as giraffes and camels) and is faster than trotting by roughly 3 seconds per mile. Pacers are also less likely to 'break', so they are more popular with punters than trotters, where the two gaits exist. As a result pacing dominates harness racing in the English-speaking world.
PARKED OUT - A horse racing on the outside, with at least one horse between it and the inside rail or barrier.
PEGS - The most recent term for the inside running rail. At many tracks these days, the railing itself has been removed, leaving behind markers or pegs which indicate where the inside of the track is.
PHANTOM RACE CALL - A make-believe description of a race that has not yet been held, or of an imaginary race.
PHOTO FINISH - See developed print.
PLODDING - A horse which is not racing as quickly as its ability allows is simply plodding along.
POCKET - See boxed in. A horse in a pocket is unable to obtain a clear run because it has other runners situated in front, behind and to the side of it.
POLE POSITION - The number one barrier position, which is on the front line closest to the inside fence.
POPULARITY: Harness racing outranks flat and jump racing (combined) in races run, prizemoney paid and betting turnover in every mainland country of Europe, except Spain and Greece. Trotting accounts for 51% of racing prizemoney in France, 57% in Germany, 62% in Italy and 90% or over in Scandinavia.
PRELIMINARY - The warm-up given to a horse on the track just prior to its race. Runners are usually let out onto the track around ten minutes before the start of a race to warm up.
PRELUDE - A race designed as a lead-up for a major event, however, as opposed to heats, the winners and placegetters of a prelude are not automatically included in the field for the final or major race. For instance, the Qantas Sprints are held the week before the Miracle Mile and are referred to as preludes. The winners of these preludes may or may not be invited to contest the Miracle Mile.
PREPARATION - The period of time that a horse races for. Standardbreds usually have a spell or rest before returning to the race track for their next preparation.
PROTEST - A verbal or written dissent regarding the placings of a particular race, which is made to the stewards before the all clear is signalled. Connections of one of the horses in a race, for instance, may believe that they would have finished in a better position had in not been for the interference or inconvenience caused by another runner, and therefore issue a protest against that offending horse. The stewards will then defer the all clear (a protest is signified by a warning type siren as opposed to the all clear siren) until an inquiry or investigation into these claims can be made. They may agree with the claims and uphold the protest, in which case the placings may be amended, or they may disagree and dismiss the protest, in which case the placings would remain the same.
PULLED THE PLUGS - Drivers who pull the plugs during a race are merely releasing the ear plugs that have been in their horse's ears up until that time. Ear plugs can help keep a horse's mind on the job and help nervy horses stay calm leading up to and during part of the race. When released, (often as the horse gets closer to the finish) the sudden exposure to more noise may help spur on the horse.
PULLED UP - A horse which has finished a race has pulled up. The term can also refer to the act of a driver stopping his horse from competing in a race, while that race is still in progress, for example, because of injury or broken gear.
PULLING - Some horses get fired-up during a race and try to run faster than the tempo of the other runners. These horses are 'pulling'. Horses that pull will usually waste a lot of energy in the process, leaving little in reserve for the finish.
PULLING OUT - A horse which is pulling out in a race is one which is coming from a rails or running line position and heading out wider on the track in an effort to secure a clear run.
PUNTER - An investor or person who places bets on the outcome of a race.
PURPLE PATCH - Refers to form or performance. A horse or trainer has hit a "purple patch" when experiencing a run of success.
QUARTER - Refers to a quarter of a mile (roughly 400metres). There are four quarters in the last mile (1609 metres) of every race, which is used when determining sectional times.
RACED OUTSIDE - See the death.
RAILS RUN - A horse can be stuck on the fence behind the leader, with other runners behind and next to it, and unable to get a clear run to the finish line. However, sometimes the leader will move out wider on the track when under pressure in the run home, enabling the horse to scoot through along the rail to the finish line
RACE CALL - The description of a race while it is in process, which includes such things as the positions of the runners at different stages, any moves made by drivers, and any incidents that occur. A race is called or described by a race caller.
RATED - Relating to the mile rate that a horse records over any race distance. Say a horse records a mile rate of 2:00.1 in a 2113 metre race, it is said to have rated 2:00.1 over 2113 metres.
REINSMAN - REINSWOMAN - Another term for driver.
RELEGATION RULE - A rule which gives Stewards the power to relegate a horse/s to a different finishing position, should they believe, for example, it destroyed the chances of another runner which would have definitely finished ahead of it.
REQUALIFY - A horse which has raced intractably in a registered event, or causes a false start or behaves intractably at the start, may be barred from racing by the Stewards until it can perform satisfactorily in one or more qualifying trials. Once the horse has achieved this, the horse has requalified to start in registered events.
RESTRICTED RACES - Races which only certain horses are eligible for, meaning the race is restricted to a select group. A restricted race may be based on a horse's age, gender, winnings, or a combination of factors, for example, one that is restricted to two-year-old fillies only.
RETURN TO SCALE - The period between the finish of the race and the signalling of the all clear. This term originated from the galloping code of racing, with jockeys having to return to the scale to check their weight before the all-clear for a race can be given.
RUNNING LINE - Horses which are referred to as being in the running line are those racing behind the horses who occupy the death seat and one-one position. These horses are one out on the track and are racing with cover.
RUNNING RAIL - Another term for fence. It is the structure which acts as a barrier between the centre of the track (inside running rail) and the viewing facilities (outside running rail).
SADDLECLOTH - The device which displays the horse's barrier position within a race, and in some cases, the colour of the saddlecloth refers to the race number.
SCORE-UP - The movement behind the mobile barrier before a start is initiated. All horses should be in their respective positions when the mobile gate begins to move. The mobile vehicle gradually increases its acceleration throughout the score-up until it reaches the starting point when the field is released.
SCRATCHING - A horse that is withdrawn (or scratched) from a race before the start. Horses can be scratched because of illness or injury.
SECTIONAL TIME -- There are four sectional times in every race, which are the four quarters of the last mile (1609m). An acceptable set of sectionals or quarters would read 30.5 seconds, 31.0, 29.5, 29.5, to equal the last mile in 2:00.5 (two minutes and five seconds).
SHIFT OUT - To veer out wide on the track while racing. A horse may shift out when racing under pressure, and may sometimes cross into the path of other runners.
SHORTENERS - The implements used to shorten the length of a horse's hopples. Sometimes horses need a smaller stride during the beginning of a race, in order to ensure they maintain their gait and don't race too fiercely. In this case, a trainer would use hopple shorteners, which are pulled out at a later stage during the race to enable the horse to increase its stride and therefore speed.
SILKS - See colours.
SIRE - The male parent, or father, of a horse.
SIRES' STAKES - Most Australian states have a Sires' Stakes programme. A horse is eligible for a Sires' Stakes series or race if his or her sire was at stud in that particular State where the horse was conceived. Therefore, horses whose sire stood in NSW are eligible for NSW Sires' Stakes races, which are programmed for two, three and four-year-olds.
SIT - To race in a trailing position, see trail.
SOFT RUN - An easy run. A horse which is not put under pressure in the running of the race, by receiving a favourable position throughout. For instance, a horse which travels in the one-one for most of the race, or travels in the lead without being taken on, may be referred to as having had a soft run.
SPELL - The resting period between preparations or racing. Horses cannot remain in peak form and hard training all year round. Sooner or later they become stale and require a spell so that their system may regenerate.
SPELLING PADDOCK - The resting place for a horse having a spell from racing. Sometimes it is used instead of the word spell - meaning, a horse has been sent to the spelling paddock, instead of a horse has been sent for a spell.
SPLIT - A gap between two horses, usually towards the finish of a race, through which a fast finishing runner may race for the winning post.
SQUARE GAITING - Another term describing the gait of a trotter. When trotting or square gaiting, a horse stretches its left front and right rear legs forward almost simultaneously and then follows suit with its right front and left rear legs.
STACKED UP - The opposite to strung out. In a field which is stacked up, the distances between the leader, rear horse and all other runners will be quite small.
STABLES - Areas, enclosures or places on a Paceway used for the accommodation of horses competing at a meeting. Stables may also refer to the areas on a trainer's property or other property where their horses are accommodated.
STALLION - A male horse, generally retired from racing, that stands at stud and is used for breeding purposes.
STANDARDBRED: Most harness racehorses in Britain, North America and Australasia are 'Standardbreds', so called because the American harness studbook, begun last century, used the ability to cover a mile in a 'standard' time (initially 2 min 30 secs) as the criteria for entry. In Europe the French Trotter, the Sandinavian 'cold-blood' and the Russian Orlov are also used in harness racing, though Standardbreds and Standardbred crosses predominate everywhere except in France.
STANDING STARTS - A race start in which the horses are stationary at the time of release. A tape is drawn across in front of the runners and then released when the starter begins the event. Sometimes horses can be slow to get into a pace or trotting gait, and will often gallop way, ruining their chances in the race.
STARTER - The person responsible for starting a harness race, whether it be a mobile or standing start event. In a mobile event, the starter controls the start of the race from the back of the mobile vehicle, while in a standing start event, the starter controls the start from the track sidelines. The starter also decides when and if a false start should be declared.
STAYER - A horse which has the endurance to race well over long distances. Sometimes a person will comment that a horse can 'stay all day'. This means the horse in question is a good stayer and will continue to race at a said pace for however long is asked of them.
STEPPED AWAY CLEANLY - In a standing start event, a pacer or trotter which begins well (goes straight into their gait) when the start is affected, is referred to as having stepped away cleanly.
STEWARDS - The persons appointed by the Harness Racing Authority to assist in the control of racing and other matters related to the sport. They ensure all rules relating to racing and betting are observed and enforced. Stewards are required to regulate, control and inquire into and adjudicate on the conduct of officials, owners, trainers, drivers, persons attending to horses, bookmakers and clerks - at any event where licensed persons are involved.
THE STICK - A slang term for the whip used by drivers.
STIPES - Another term for the Stewards. The correct term is stipendiary stewards, hence the shortened nick-name of stipes.
STRAPPER - A groom, the person who assists the trainer, cares for the horse or helps to put on its equipment. Also known as an attendant.
STRUNG OUT - A field of horses in a race in which the distances between the leader, the rear horse and the other runners is quite great. Such a field would be referred to as being well strung out.
STUD - A farm or stable or place where registered stallions and/or mares are located for breeding purposes.
SULKY - Also known as the cart or gig, the sulky is the contraption attached to the harness which carries the driver and which the horse pulls. A modern sulky has two bicycle tyres and weighs around 25kg.
SUSPENSION - A driver or trainer who is deemed, by the stewards, to have broken one or more of the rules of harness racing, may receive a suspension as punishment. A suspension means a driver cannot participate in any race and a trainer may not train for a set period of time. The length of time a trainer or driver is suspended is decided by the Stewards in relation to the severity of their offence. For instance, a driver with a previously unblemished record would receive a lighter penalty than another who had previously offended. A horse can also be placed under suspension, in which case it would be debarred from racing.
SWABBING - The taking of blood and/or urine samples from a horse for analysis by a testing laboratory. The stewards may direct any horse to be swabbed before or after it has raced, irrespective of where it finishes in the race. The samples are tested by the laboratory for any irregularities or prohibited substances or drugs. A positive swab is one which has been found to contain a prohibited substance.
SWEATING UP - A horse which is sweating up has a lather of frothy looking sweat all over its body. This sweat may develop on a nervous, fractious or fired-up horse before it races, or on a horse that has experienced a hard run during a race, or one that is just plain hot.
SWEEPERS - Those horses which were racing at the rear of the field but are moved out to race wide on the track by their drivers in order to get a clear run down the home straight towards the finish line.
TAILED OFF - A horse that drops so far back during a race, that it is out of touch with the rest of the field.
TAKEN ON - See attacked. The leader of the race is sometimes "taken on" by another runner.
THREE WIDE - The same position that a horse which is two out occupies, in the third row of horses out from the inside rail. Similarly, a horse which is three out would be racing four wide (in the fourth row of horses out from the inside rail). Three and four wide is also termed three and four deep.
TIME TRIAL - A non-registered race in which a horse sets out to record a specific time, or to see exactly how fast it can run without having to deal with other runners as it would during a registered race. A pace-maker (often a galloper) will usually be sent out to help spur on the horse. A time trial simply means a performance by one horse against time.
TIMING BOARD -- This displays the progressive sectional, lead and overall times during a race, and the sectional and overall time, mile rate, placings and margins after a race.
TIPPED OUT - A driver who falls off the sulky or is thrown out, usually as a result of interference between his or her horse and another runner. The horse may also fall during the race.
TRACKS: Circuit lengths are Half-Mile in America, five furlongs/1000 metres (predominant in Scandinavia and much of Europe) and mile, though the famous 'Grande piste' at Vincennes in Paris is 2000 metres. Racing 'one wide' outside another horse means covering an extra 63 feet (almost 6 lengths) per mile on a half mile track and 47 feet on a five-eights one.
TRAIL - Racing immediately behind another horse, thus using it as a wind-break. A driver may place his horse in a trailing position in order to save enough energy for a fast finish down the home straight. A trail is also known as a sit.
TRAINER - The person responsible for looking after a horse and preparing it to race. A trainer must hold a license or permit to be entitled to train.
TRIAL - A non-registered horse race. Trials allow previously unraced horses the opportunity to qualify to race at a registered meeting, and allows trainers of horses at various stages in their preparation to gauge their progress.
TROTTING - A slang term for harness racing in general. It also describes the gait of a "trotter" (see square gaiting).
UNDER DOUBLE WRAPS - A horse that is racing exceptionally well and under restraint.
UNDER PRESSURE - To be given a hard time or experience a hard run during a race. A horse may be placed under pressure by another runner in the field, for instance, when being attacked for the lead. Under pressure may also refer to a horse that is finding it hard to keep up with the pace (is weakening), or is not responding to the driver's command to accelerate.
WEAKENED - A horse which started off well in a race and was in a position from which it could win, but could not keep up that pace or keep up with the pace of the other runners and dropped back in the field. That horse is said to have weakened.
WEANLING - A baby horse, up to its first birthday.
WELL DRAWN - To be given a favourable starting position or barrier, that suits the way that particular horse runs. For instance, a horse which is a good beginner (has a lot of early speed) would be considered to be well-drawn in the front row.
WELL TRIED - A horse which has been well supported by punters.
WHIP - An implement used by the driver to spur on the horse in the run to the finish line. Drivers will tap their horse with the whip when they want them to accelerate. A driver may only use the whip in an elbow action - upper arm action is not permitted.
WINNING POST - The post, usually stipulating the name of the paceway, which marks exactly where the finish line is for all races at that track.
WIRE - Another term for the finish line.
WITHOUT COVER - To race in front of all other horses, without any protection from the wind resistance. A horse can be racing without cover if it is the leader, racing in the death seat, or racing out wide on the track.
YEARLING - Any horse between its first and second birthday.
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