What is Tic-Tac?

Although the use of mobile phones has rendered Tic-Tac nigh on obsolete in the modern betting ring, it is, or was, a secret sign language used by floor men, and women, to relay information about price movements to bookmakers. Traditionally, Tic-Tacs could be employed privately by bookmakers or self-employed, subject to authorisation by the National Joint Pitch Council. In either case, they would wear white gloves to make their hand and arm movements more obvious and, typically, stand on a pile of wooden crates so that they could easily be seen across a crowded betting ring.

Of course, the purpose of Tic-Tacs is to provide a service to bookmakers, not the racing public, and one of the tricks of their trade is known as a ‘Twist Card’. Tic-Tac is complex, but not so complex that it cannot be learnt by racegoers, including professional punters, so to add to the level of subtefuge, the ‘Twist Card’ contains different racecard numbers to those on the standard, publicly-available racecard. Thus, while an informed member of the public may be able to determine that a horse is attracting betting support, he or she still does not know which horse it is, at least not until the price shortens on bookmakers’ boards.