Weights and Measures
In 1999 at an evening meeting at Chester we met a charming family from the Netherlands who had gone racing for the first time. Whilst they were enjoying themselves they had to admit that they were somewhat baffled by the weights and measures used in British racing. This not only extends to non-English speaking people, Americans have sterilised their weights and measures sufficiently so that we can find it nearly-impossible to communicate with them at times.
So for the benefit of anyone new to racing or new to the various expressions used this page has been constructed. If there is anything which we have missed off then please let us know.
The base measurement in Britain. It's about 10% shorter than a metre. it's generally the distance from one's nose to one's fingertips when the arm is outstretched to the left or right.
1,760 yards or about 1½ kilometres.
220 yards or one eighth of a mile. (Incidentally a furlong is ten chains; a chain being the length of a cricket pitch. Additionally, an area of land measuring one furlong by one chain is one acre).
Race distances in the United Kingdom are measured in miles, furlongs and yards.
the Imperial System is the official measurement system used in the United Kingdom, despite the best efforts of our leaders who wish to drive us headlong into Europe. This system is still used daily by everyday people. This system is actually easy to understand and follow as there are just a few simple units to deal with. If you think that this system is unworkable then please do recall that the greatest engineering projects, including putting a man on the moon, was used using this system.
Roughly half a kilogram. A pound (lb) is composed of sixteen ounces. A gallon of water, for example, weighs ten pounds.
On race cards weights are in stones and pounds, for example '10-6' which means that the weight that the horse has to carry (which includes the tack, the jockey and any extra weights) is ten stones and six pounds.
The only term which needs explaining is the Guinea. The Guinea, in old money, was £1, 1/-, that is, One Pound and One Shilling. Since Decimalisation the Guinea is now worth £1.05 .
Guineas are often used as names of some of the Classic races such as the Thousand Guineas. Note that due to the ravages of inflation and competition with overseas races offering higher prizes the winner of the Thousand Guineas can expect to receive considerably more than a thousand guineas.
Guineas, rather than Pounds, are used when a horse is auctioned off after a selling race.
There are a number of common multiple bets which are used, but the trouble is that they have some odd names. So to help the newcomer here are the names of some of the more common multiple bets.
* Or known as a 'Super-Yankee' which shows that someone, somewhere on the North American continent, has a wicked sense of humour.