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Racing Handicapper

There is no denying that the goal of every horseplayer is to make a fortune betting on the horses. Absence a crystal ball, they tend to look forward to getting horse racing tips and horse racing picks from the experts.

In lieu of depending on others to make your picks for you, it might be a far better option for you to learn to do your own handicapping. And make use of the various online tools available to punters such as free handicapping software and bet calculators. With that in mind, here’re a few tips on how to start doing your own handicapping. You should be aware that it takes years to become a proficient handicapper, but these basic tips should be enough to get you started.

Handicapping 101

The first thing you will need in order to begin the handicapping process is statistical information. Every horse that has ever been in a race has a statistical record. Depending on which part of the world you live in, that information is available online or in hardcopy form. In Europe, the “Racing Post” serves as the handicapper’s bible. In Australia, the information is available in the industry’s “Form Guide.” In North America, it’s called the “Racing Form.” All of the historical data you will need to begin handicapping is available in those publications. While there may be other information available in other formats, these are the tools you want to start with, at least until you become more proficient with the handicapping process.

In order to avoid overloading yourself with information, you should narrow your initial handicapping efforts to three handicapping factors: class, speed, and pace.

Class – Each race has a classification that helps horsemen place their horses with others horses with which they might be more competitive. The hierarchy of classifications is as follows – from worst to best: maiden claiming, maiden allowance, claiming, starter allowance, allowance, restricted stakes, and stakes or handicap races – Grade or Group 1 – 3. Based on a horse’s proven talent level, trainers will try to run horses at the right class level in order to win purse money. To do otherwise would be a waste of time. As a handicapper, you want to compare a horse’s past class level with the conditions of the race you are handicapping. Special interest should be given to horses that are moving up or down in class.

Speed – It should come as no surprise that a horse’s speed is an important consideration when comparing horses and handicapping a race. In your jurisdiction’s horse racing guide, you will find some form of speed figures. These figures will provide you with a basis for comparing horses that have been running in different races and/or at different venues. While you usually want to concentrate on horses with the fastest speed figures, you also want to pay attention to horses that seem to be getting slower or faster in recent races. You can make good money betting on horses that seem to be on the improve.

Pace – There’s an old say that says, “Pace makes the race.” It’s true. In your handicapping publication, you should be able to identify a horse’s running style from its most recent past performances. Horses that tend to run fast early and slow down late are referred to front-runners or speed types. Horses that run evenly throughout a race are called pace trackers and stalkers while horses that run slow in the beginning and run on late are called plodders or closers. Within the context of a race, you can usually determine a horse’s preferred style. Why does this matter? If a race is filled with speed types, there’s a good chance they will run too fast early, which gives an advantage to the stalkers and closers. If there is only one frontrunner, they might be able to dictate a slower pace and have more energy in reserve to hold off the stalkers and closers. If you can visualize how a race sets up, you might be able to identify horses that have a pace advantage.

When you tire of depending on horse racing tips and horse racing picks that never seem to be accurate, you might realize you have the ability to do better on your own. It might take an investment of your time in the beginning, but as you become a better handicapper, the amount of time required to make your own picks will diminish. In the end, you can claim the credit for your own winnings, and that brings great satisfaction.


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