Age: In the Southern Hemisphere, all horses age a year on 1 August regardless of their date of birth. Generally horses fully mature at the age of four. Male horses are dubbed colts until they turn five, after which they are termed horses. Females are termed fillies until age five and thereafter mares.
Alumites: Lightweight aluminium shoes fitted to horses’ hooves. The general consensus is that they enhance performance and most horses race in them, although in some instances steel training shoes are left on for a race.
Allowance: A reduction in the weight allocated to a horse. Apprentice jockeys are allowed weight allowances until they have ridden 40 winners (allowances may not be claimed in major races). Horses get allowances in some races, either on account of their age or racing record.
Blinkers: Cups sewn into a hood that restrict or block a horse’s sideways vision and enhance concentration. Horses can improve when raced in blinkers for the first time.
Career record: A horse’s record can reveal a lot. Good horses win or place more often than horses with limited ability.
Colour: Most horses are bays (brown hair with a black mane, tail and points). Other colours are black, brown (brown hair throughout), chestnut, grey and roan. Colour is of no significance in terms of racing ability.
Class of race: The more races a horse has won or the more elevated its merit rating, the higher the class of race it competes in. In Phumelela-produced publications Computaform and Winner’s World, classes are shown from A (the highest) to G (the lowest), making it easy to spot horses moving up or down in class.
Draw: The stall in the mechanical starting gate from which a horse starts a race. The draw or barrier position is usually of little account, but is important over certain distances at certain racecourses.
Gelding: A male horse that has been castrated. Gelding is a minor surgical procedure and usually enhances a horse’s temperament. Horses without stallion prospects are usually gelded and this is to their benefit after their racing careers.
Handicap: A race in which the weight carried by each runner is determined by its merit rating, which is allocated by the handicapper. The aim is to equalise the chances of the runners. The weight carried includes the jockey and riding equipment. If necessary, lead weights are inserted into pockets in the saddle to make up the required weight. Weights carried are strictly monitored and the Clerk of the Scales weighs out all jockeys with their equipment before each race. The riders of all runners in each race are weighed in afterwards and their mounts declared non-runners if the weight is over 0,5kg less than what was initially allocated.
Jockeys: Self-employed professionals, who are paid a riding fee to ride horses in races. They also receive a percentage of prize money.
Maiden: A horse that has not yet won.
Stakes: The prize money offered in a race, which is divided among owners, trainers and jockeys of the first five finishers (usually) according to a formula. Stakes won by a horse are often a good guide to its ability.
Trainer: Self-employed professionals, whom owners pay a fee to train their horses.
Weight-for-age: A race in which the weight carried is determined by a horse’s age. In plate races the weight is determined by the number of wins and in handicaps by the merit rating.