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I've found this phrase here on a recent BBC report:

"...the mare in the video died after suffering a cardiac arrest on a gallops in April 2016."

The same article has:

"A video on social media shows James mount the animal at a gallops while some present can be heard laughing."

(emphasis mine)

It's a bit of a sad story, but I want to know what "a gallops" is.

Google Ngrams has some indication that it might be a phrase rather than just a typo, and also that it might be rising in popularity.

TheFreeDictionary redirects me to gallop. I know what "a gallop" is. It's the plural noun ("a gallops") that I have never heard used before. It feels like some kind of horse racing meet.

Any formal (or informal) definition that fits this word? Is it short for something?

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  • I'm afraid this is General Reference. See Lexico sense 1.3, which was the first reference I looked up. It has suitable sample sentences. Admittedly, a plurale tantum is reasonably rare in English, but hardly unknown. – Andrew Leach Mar 4 at 15:08
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    @AndrewLeach It is general reference if you are in the UK. If you switch Lexico to US, it doesn't mention "gallops" as a track at all. Also, I am an equestrian in the US and this is not widely known or used in the US even by equestrians, I only know it because I read a lot of British horse books. This is a good question and should not be closed (if you don't think it's on topic here, it's at very least on topic for ELL and should be moved instead of being closed). – user3067860 Mar 4 at 15:26
  • Thanks for your bravery @AndrewLeach, as you can see, not one of the other "vote to close" reviewers left an explanatory comment. TheFreeDictionary compiles all the other recommended dictionaries into one place, but I didn't try OED (paywall) and hadn't actually used Lexico previously, so didn't think to this time. All the content I could see from ngrams did not contradict my thought that this was an event rather than a place. Should I delete? – Pam Mar 4 at 16:37
  • Deleting questions is generally Not A Good Thing, and can work against you as well as deprive others of rep points. Please don't do that. I'm afraid I wouldn't recommend TFD over actually checking individual dictionaries, because you miss out on a lot, in particular example sentences. – Andrew Leach Mar 4 at 16:51
  • @AndrewLeach, thanks, good advice again. – Pam Mar 4 at 17:01
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A gallops (or sometimes gallop) is a track or ground specially designed for training or exercising horses - see definition 1.3 here. They usually have a special surface, and might consist of a straight or circular track, often with a fence or rails.

Note that this is a British English phrase, equivalent to the American English phrase "training track".

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    Awesome - I thought it was an event rather than a place. – Pam Mar 2 at 16:33
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    @Pam I thought it was just a verb. Looks like a horse can gallop around a gallop. – BruceWayne Mar 2 at 17:42
  • @Showsni but 1.3 refers to the place as a "gallops" with an s.. Can you provide a reputable source for your (or sometimes gallop) ? – Caius Jard Mar 3 at 7:47
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    @CaiusJard This link from the Jockey Club Estates confirms that you can have a singular gallop as a name for the track on which a horse gallops. They consider "gallops" to be the plural for multiple tracks. jockeyclubestates.co.uk/newmarket/principal-gallops – Graham Mar 3 at 10:03
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    @CaiusJard There may not be a better source as this is actual jargon use by experts. The link shows that an individual practice route is called a gallop (or a canter - presumably slightly slower), and collectively they are known as the Newmarket gallops (and similarly the Lambourn gallops and the Epsom gallops). It seems that a set of gallops can be called a gallops. – Henry Mar 3 at 11:03
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This appears to be a specialized meaning, uncommon outside of the equestrian world. The OED gives a sense as

1c. A track designed or suited for the galloping or exercising of horses.

1848 A. Trollope Kellys & O'Kellys II. ii. 45: They've proper gallops there, which we haven't.

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    Thanks for pointing out that this is an uncommon term - had I come across this term myself, I would have assumed it was just a typo of the more familiar "at a gallop" (i.e. running at full speed). – brichins Mar 3 at 0:40
  • @brichins that wouldn't make sense in this context, given that the horse in question has expired and gone to meet its maker; it's not going to gallop again (however much it's flogged) – Chris H Mar 3 at 11:52
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    Bit of an indication that the BBC thinks much of their audience will be well-versed in horsey terminology. – CCTO Mar 3 at 16:31
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    @CCTO People reading the "horse racing" section of any publication can be fairly expected to know horsey terminology. – choster Mar 3 at 18:33
  • @choster Quite right! I hadn't bothered to look at the original link; it is absolutely in the horse racing section of the sports (er, "sport") section. – CCTO Mar 3 at 20:43

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