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What does a Birdcage have to do with horse racing? And what are blinkers?

A Hoop, what on earth is a Hoop?!

If you’re heading to the race that stops the nation, but struggling to wrap your head around all of the lingo that goes with it, you’re not alone!

Here’s your go-to-guide to help you understand all the jargon at this year’s Melbourne Cup Carnival.

Let’s start with the basics, the horses themselves.

It’s easy to refer to every animal on the track simply as a horse, but you’d be surprised at how many terms there actually are.

On the big day, and even leading up to it, you might be hearing these wonderful animals referred to as a Colt or Filly. Let’s have a look at what they mean:


FILLY: A female horse that is up to and including 3 years old.

COLT: A male horse that is up to and including 3 years old.

MARE: A female horse that is 4 years or older.

STALLION / HORSE: A male horse that is 4 years or older.

MAIDEN: A horse who has never won a race.

RUNNER: This is what you call a horse that is competing in the race.


BLINKERS: Headwear that is designed to keep a horse’s eyesight forward and improve their concentration.

Now with the horses covered, let’s move on to the event itself.

BIRDCAGE: This is the part of the racecourse where the horses are paraded around before the race begins.

PHOTO FINISH: A result so close they need to use a camera on the finish line to determine the result.

HOOP: This is probably the most confusing one here, but to put it simply, it’s another name for a Jockey.

FEATURE RACE: This is the most important race of the day! It’s usually determined by amount of prize money on offer, and classification.


And, of course, it wouldn’t be The Lexus Melbourne Cup without a few betting options.

But if you haven’t gambled before, you may not know the correct terminology when going to place a bet.

PUNTER: This will most likely be you. It’s someone who is placing a bet.

BOOKIES: These are formally known as Bookmakers, and they’re the people licensed to place your bet.

WAGER: A wager is simply another term for a bet.

FAVOURITE: The most popular horse in betting.


LONG SHOT: A horse that has the odds stacked against them, and not at all likely to win. Sometimes they surprise us and do win!

TRIFECTA: A bet involving the first 3 horses in the race.

And that’s it! You’re all set to take on the 2019 Melbourne Cup Carnival like a pro!

Now when someone asks if you want to ‘Place a wager on a Colt in a feature race,’ you know exactly what they’re talking about.

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