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Horse Racing/well in hand


QUESTION: hello sir. i have a doubt regarding horse racing track work terminology. what does "well in hand" mean? are the terms "handy" and "well in hand" both means the same?

ANSWER: Hi Rohit,
         The terminology used in the racing industry is a complete mystery to anyone not involved on a day to day basis. If the industry wants a wider following it will need to either explain what the terms mean or change to every day language that everyone understands.

The term "well in hand' usually refers to a horse that is not at full speed. It suggests that the jockey has a short hold on the reins rather than letting them loose so the horse can stretch out its neck. The term "under a good hold" means the same.

"handy" usually means the horse is close to the leading horse or horses. It refers to the position the horse is in the field. If it were at the tail end of the field it would be termed, "well off the pace" or "settled back"
Hope this helps.
Don Boddie

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: hello sir. please dont take me wrong. as per American racing terminology, "handy" or "handily" means the rider rode the horse with great effort. but, your answer is different. can you please tell me again what does "handy" or "handily" mean?

Hi Rohit,
         As I mentioned, the jargon used in the racing business is a mystery to the uninitiated but it can be confusing to those who use it every day. I am not surprised that the Yanks have a different meaning for 'handy', they are out of step on most things!! Quite frankly, their explanation does not make sense!

In NZ and Australia the term 'handy' is used to describe a horses position in a race in relation to the 'pace' or leading horse/s. A horse which is within a couple of lengths of the leader/s is described as racing 'handy' or being placed 'handily' in relation to the leader/s.
Merry Xmas,

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Don Boddie


All aspects of the thoroughbred breeding and racing industry in New Zealand. I race thoroughbreds and have been the Marketing Manager for three NZ racing clubs. If I don`t know the answer to your question I know someone who does!


20 years in the racing industry. Currently focusing on breeding but involved in all aspects of the industry. Ive raced several thoroughbreds with modest success and have had great fun out of it.

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