The ‘Cheltenham Roar’ and other racing phrases and slang

I swear the weeks and months fly by. It doesn’t seem five minutes since the 2019 Cheltenham Festival and now the 2000 Festival is almost upon us. The event is high on the list of those looking for betting opportunities, as it offers four whole days of top class racing, a total of 28 races in total to get your teeth into. The bookmakers all gear up for it too, with opportunities to take advantage of ante-post Cheltenham festival betting offers . It’s no wonder really when an estimated £35,000 a second is bet during the four day festival.

If those betting figures make your eyes spin, it’s a good time to remind you that there is a fever pitch atmosphere around Cheltenham both on and off course. With 60,000 attending the Cheltenham Festival each day and the majority of those having a wager, it’s no surprise that the figure bet is fairly mind boggling (£300 million+ in total). So take advantage of whatever bet bonuses and odds boosters you can get your hands on, and go for it! Be sure too, to listen out for the famous ‘Cheltenham Roar’ at the start of the first race. That’s the phrase used to describe the rapturous sound let out by the huge Cheltenham crowds. It’s funny how central phrases and slag are to the racing world. It certainly has a distinctive nomenclature.

Some other examples of betting slang, used to describe odds and sums of money, have their origins in Cockney rhyming slang. ‘Carpet’, meaning odds of 3/1, is a contraction of ‘Carpet Bag’, which is rhyming slang for ‘Drag’ or, in other words, a three-month prison sentence. Other well-known examples include ‘Lady’, short for ‘Lady Godiva’, meaning ‘fiver’, or £5 Sterling, ‘Cockle’, short for ‘Cock and Hen’, meaning ten, or £10 Sterling. Expressions such as ‘Pony’, meaning £25 Sterling, and ‘Monkey’, meaning £500 Sterling, are more obscure, but the most plausible explanation of their derivation is that, historically, the animals appeared on Indian rupee banknotes of the appropriate denominations.

The modern betting ring is a far cry from the days of yesteryear, when odds were written in chalk on blackboards, bets were entered, by hand, into ledgers and betting tickets were printed on brightly coloured cardboard. Modern technology has also rendered the traditional, white-gloved tic-tac man, employed to communicate odds changes to his bookmaker by using coded arm movements, all but obsolete. Albeit a shadow of its former self, the betting ring still exists, as does the betting slang that has been used by bookmakers and their floor men to bamboozle punters since time immemorial.

The ‘dark art’ of tic-tac may be largely a thing of the past, but the expressions used to describe gestures of the ‘secret’ sign language – and, hence, the odds those gestures represent – remain a cause of confusion. For example, ‘Wrist’, ‘Ear ‘Ole’ and ‘Top of the Head’ can be translated as odds of 5/4, 6/4 and 9/4, respectively, by those ‘in the know’. To add to their good-natured deceit, or subterfuge, bookmakers are also fond of ‘back slang’, such that the numbers ‘Four’, ‘Six’ and ‘Seven’ become ‘Rouf’, ‘Xis’ or ‘X’s’ and ‘Neves’, respectively. So, ‘X’s to Rouf’ is just another way of saying ‘Ear ‘Ole’, or 6/4. Similarly, ‘Ten’ becomes ‘Net’, so it naturally follows that 16/1 becomes ‘Net and X’s’ and 20/1 becomes ‘Double Net’.