What Does Race Off Mean in Horse Racing?

A term used to describe a horse that races well in the latter part of a race, coming from off the pace. Also known as closing ground.

GALLOP-A fast canter. SHANK-A strap attached to a horse’s bridle.

COLTS-Male horses under five years of age.

FORM-Multi-use term that can be a shortened version of the Daily Racing Form, or a generic reference to a horse’s series of past performances.

Race off

A race where the horses are allocated a weight according to their official handicap ratings. This is done to try to ensure that all horses compete on a fair basis. The higher the rating, the more weight a horse has to carry.

Each horse must be ‘declared to run’, usually the day before a race. This includes announcing the jockey who will ride them and any equipment they will wear (e.g. blinkers). The field then appears in newspapers and on racecards.

A horse that has been backed heavily in betting is known as being ‘backed in’. This usually means that lots of bettors have put money on it and therefore the odds are lower. A horse that is unbacked, on the other hand, is likely to offer better odds. This is because not everyone wants to back in a horse that is unlikely to win. Also called a ‘long shot’.


If a race has one or more horses that like to lead they can sometimes go off at too quick of a pace. The result of this can be that the horse who gets an uncontested early lead burns themselves out before they have even reached the halfway point in the race.

This is where having a good understanding of pace comes in useful. The pace map of the race (provided by Geegeez) gives an indication as to the likely tempo of the race. For example if the race has a lone speed horse such as Club Wexford that likes to lead from a strong position then it is likely to be run at a fast pace.

Conversely if the race has a number of need-the-lead types or deep closers then it is likely to be a slow run race that will favour those who can settle midfield and run on late. The in-race commentary on the race will also give an indication as to what type of pace the runners are likely to set.


Every race has a designated amount of weight each horse must carry. This is to even the competition across the field of runners and is usually set by the handicappers. Occasionally, trainers may enter horses who are one or two pounds above the ratings band but these horses must carry extra weight.

Each pound of additional weight that a horse must carry equates to 0.2 seconds in finishing speed. This is why it’s important to know a horse’s rating and current form before placing a bet on it.

A trainer will often not run a fresh, fit horse if they believe its assigned weight is too high. This is especially true if the horse has shown poor form recently. This could be due to exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage or simply because it’s out of its class. However, if the horse shows a good edge in other races it can sometimes still win despite carrying a top weight.


While the general categories for defining a horses optimum distance may be obvious to many punters the precise conditions that define a horse’s stamina contest are far more complex than first thought. Champion French Trainer Andre Fabre once remarked that “Soft ground will make the race longer.”

When studying the horses listed to compete in a race one of the main factors to consider is how well they have performed over that particular distance in the past and how suited they are to competing under prevailing track conditions at the time of racing. This article aims to help readers gain an understanding of how a horse’s performances over different distances can be used to determine the best betting opportunities on the day. This knowledge will allow punters to make informed decisions when placing their bets on the outcome of each race. This will ultimately result in increased profits. Good luck! A horse that wins a race with a winning margin of more than one length.

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