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Crowds mill around the parade ring at Windsor Racecourse as a horse is led by.

Beginners Guide to Racing

Great Day Out

You can’t beat a day at the races, as with any sport if you understand the basics, what’s going on, what to look for you’ll get more out of your day. Learn how to place a bet, what to look for on a racehorse and take a peek at our jargon buster to impress your friends or colleague on all things Horseracing, tips not included!
Some of the beautiful gardens at Windsor Racecourse.


How to place a bet….

Putting on a bet at the races is all part of the experience and we challenge anyone to not scream with frustration or delight as their horse approaches the winning line!

You can put as little as £2 on a horse and to help you chose a horse our raceday programme will give you tips for picking your fancy and details on how to read the form. However, you may have as much luck picking the horse because you like its name or you like the colour of the jockey’s silks.

There are 2 ways to bet – either with the tote or with the ‘bookies’ that can be found in front of the viewing grandstands.

Totepool betting is available in any enclosure. With a minimum stake of £2 you can simply choose a horse to win, place or each-way. For those more advanced why not try a Placepot. Choose a selection in race 1-6 to be placed, an accumulator style bet. Each selection needs to be placed to win!

Rails Bookmakers also known as the “bookies” are in front of our grandstand, silver ring enclosure and by the parade ring. Try to look out for the Follow the Flag logo which is our on-course customer standard charter offering you the best terms in betting.

Take a look at our handy video guides below

A Day at the Races

If you are new to racing, or just new to Royal Windsor Racecourse follow these steps below to make sure you know what's going on around the course.

1. The Weighing Room - 30 minutes before the race

Whilst you are looking at your race card, deciding who to bet on, the jockeys' will be 'weighing out'. Their total weight, including the saddle, must meet a set limit for a particular horse in a particular race. After the race, the jockeys' must also 'weigh in' to ensure that the weight remains the same.

2. The Pre-parade Ring - 20 minutes before the race

As part of their pre-race preparation, the horses will be brought from the stables to the pre-parade ring and led around by their grooms. This is to help them stay warm and focused and gives racegoers a chance to see the horses before they are saddled and to assess their fitness attitude.

3. The Parade Ring - 15 minutes before the race

Also, known as the Paddock, this is a must for all racegoers to see the horses close-up before the race and to hopefully pick out the winner! Here you will also see all the 'connections' of each horse; the owners, trainers and stable staff.

4. Place your bets - 10 minutes before the race

There are a variety of places to bet at the course, the tote windows around the course or the bookmakers in the betting ring in the Grandstand Enclosure or on the Grandstand Lawn next to the Lawn Bar.

5. The Racecourse - during the race

The actual race can be viewed from different positions around the course although in order to be level with the winning post you will need to be in the Club Enclosure. It is a good idea to watch from different points around the course to get varying perspectives of the race. Full details of each race can be found in a race card, which you can purchase when you enter the course for only £3.00.

6. The Winners Enclosure - after the race

After each race, the placed horses all come back into this area and are met by their grooms. They will be unsaddled so that the jockeys' can go and 'weigh in'. All the unplaced horses are taken back to the Parade Ring and taken back to the stables to be washed down. When all the jockeys' have 'weighed in' you will hear a call of 'horses away' from the weighing room - this gives the all clear for the remaining horses to return to the stables. The Winners Enclosure is also where the winning owners and sometimes the trainer and jockey, will be presented with their trophy by the race sponsor.

Don’t be put off by the racing jargon, use our guide as a way to get around some terms you may hear around the course.

Card – Short for racecard. This is your race programme with the runners and riders.

Clerk of the Course – Has British Horseracing Authority accreditation and inspects and approves the track for racing.

Colours (Silks) – The colours worn by the jockey in a race.

Dead Heat – When two horses are given equal places in a race because the judge cannot decide which was in front.

Distance – When a racehorse wins by 30 lengths or more.

Handicap – A race in which weights are to be carried by each horse according to recent or past racing performance.

Form – A record of a racehorse’s previous performance.

Furlong – An eighth of a mile, 220 yards or 201 metres.

Going – A term used to describe the condition of the ground, ranging from hard through to heavy. These include: Hard, Firm, Good to Firm, Good, Good to Soft, Soft, Heavy.

Maiden – A race for horses that have not yet won a race.

Non-runner – When a horse is no longer running in the race.

Novice Races – Flat races for racehorses aged two or three that have not won more than two races.

Paddock / Parade Ring – The horses parade here before they are mounted to race. A good place to check out your fancy to see if it’s looking good for a win!

Photo Finish – When the judge requires a photograph to decide the winner.

Pulled Up – When a jockey slows a horse that has no chance of winning the race due to either tiring or injury.

Sprint – Any race under a mile.

Stakes – Prize money offered in a race.

Starting Stalls – Used to make sure the horses in flat races all have a fair start. Positions are “drawn” before the race and can give an advantage depending on the racecourse and length of the race.

Stewards – Officials responsible for enforcing the British Horseracing Authority’s Orders & Rules of Racing.

Under Orders – When the racehorses are called into line before the start of a race. Once racehorses have come ‘under orders’ they are judged to have competed in the race and no bets will be refunded.

Weigh in/weigh out – Weighing of jockey before and after a race to ensure that the correct weight has been carried. At the end of the race when ‘weighed in’ has been announced this means the result is official and all bets can be paid out.

Winners Enclosure – Where the winning horse and placed horses will go after the race and the winning owners and trainers have their presentations.

Unplaced – A horse that finishes outside the main placings, which is generally the first three home, depending on the size of the field.

Weights – Fixed weights to be carried by horses in a race according to ability, age, distance, sex, and time of year. This weight includes the jockey and equipment, saddle and weight cloth.

Weight Cloth – Leather cloth with pockets that hold flat pieces of lead. They are removable and interchangeable. The weight cloth is carried under the jockey’s saddle and is to ensure that they ride at the correct weight in a race.

If you fancy a flutter and are new to racing, download our Betting Guide (no winners guaranteed!)

A race goer studies the racing post.
A jockey looks focused as he heads towards the finish line at Windsor Racecourse.
A close up of a jockey with mud all over his face at Windsor Racecourse.