Horse racing is a sport that involves horses being ridden by jockeys in an attempt to win the race. People often put money on the outcome of the races.​

horse racing idioms and expressions with pictures

Many idioms originated from horse racing and here is a list of them with picture examples.

horse racing idioms and quotes

a close call

meaning – a narrow escape from danger/disaster
example – It was a close call, but we got to the gate a minute before it closed.

horse racing idioms - a close call

a dark horse

meaning – an unknown competitor or a person who keeps their talents secret
example – The dark horse, Duke Runalot beat the favourites to win the race.

horse racing quote - dark horse

a head start

meaning – start earlier than the others or have an advantage
– I’ve got a head start over the other competitors as I’ve worked for the company before.

horse racing sayings - a head start

a photo finish

meaning – a competition that is very close towards the end
example – We need to wait for the footage to be viewed, it was a photo finish.

horse racing quote - a photo finish

a safe bet

meaning – certain to happen/win/succeed, confidence can be placed in the outcome
example – Getting an engineering degree is a safe bet, it’s a good profession.

horse racing idiom - a safe bet

a two-horse race

meaning – a competition where there are only two teams/candidates with a chance of winning
example – The election is turning into a two-horse race.

horse racing idiom - a two-horse race

back the wrong horse

meaning – make the wrong decision/support the losing side
example – I lost £2000 this morning on the stock market. I backed the wrong horse.

horse racing quote - back the wrong horse

come from behind

meaning – win/succeed after being in a losing position
example – The youngster is coming from behind. Can he take the champion’s crown?

horse racing expressions - come from behind

down to the wire

meaning – until the last possible moment
example – The election will go down to the wire. I couldn’t say either way.

horse racing sayings - down to the wire

flog a dead horse

meaning – continue to focus on something that isn’t going to be a success
example – Stop flogging a dead horse. Ciara doesn’t want to be with you, stop pestering her.

horse racing sayings - flog a dead horse

give someone a run for their money

meaning – almost as good as the opposition
example – My 3-year-old twins are giving me a run for my money.

horse racing sayings - give someone a run for their money

go the distance

meaning – persist until the end without quitting
example – He’s a great tennis player. I think he’ll go the distance.

hands down

meaning – very easily
example – We won hands down, the other team were rubbish.

horse racing quote - hands down

hold your horses

meaning – wait and be patient before doing something
example – Hold your horses. I need to read the contract in detail before I sign anything.

horse racing phrases - hold your horses

jockey for position

meaning – try to get into a better position against your competitors
example – All candidates are jockeying for position. They’re trying to get the most media coverage.

horse racing phrases - jockey for position

neck and neck

meaning – equal
example – The voting is neck and neck, anyone could take the crown.

horse racing phrases - neck and neck

play the field

meaning – have multiple partners, bet on all horses not just the favourite
example – I’m going to play the field on this last race, I’ve got nothing to lose.

horse racing phrases - play the field

riding high

meaning – successful/popular/confident
example – Katy Perry is still riding high in the charts.

horse racing phrases - riding high

take the reins

meaning – take control/manage something
example – I took the reins at the meeting and bagged a new contract. My boss will be pleased.

horse racing idiom - take the reins

the homestretch

meaning – the final stage of a long activity
example – After tomorrow’s exam, we’re in the homestretch.

horse racing quote - the homestretch

the sport of kings

meaning – horse racing
example – We’re going to the races to watch the sport of kings.

horse racing idiom - sport of kings

too close to call

meaning – you can’t predict the outcome, it will be by a small margin
example – The election is too close to call, either of the 3 could win.

horse racing idiom - too close to call

win by a nose

meaning – win by a very narrow margin
example – I demand a recount. He won by a nose, it’s not fair.

horse racing idioms - win by a nose

You can download a table of horse racing idioms and expressions below.

If you’ve enjoyed this page, don’t forget to check out some more sports idioms by clicking on the links below.