Basics of Horse Race Form

Backing Winners

Reading Horse Racing Forms

If you are going to wager on horse racing, it is extremely important to know how to read a horse racing form (or card). The reason why is because horse racing forms give lots of important information on each horse’s performance, and the information will help you make a smart bet. These forms are given out at racetracks, but you can also find horse racing cards online as well.

Upon first glance, a horse racing form may look like an odd mix of numbers and letters, but every section has a purpose. It is also worth mentioning that not every race card will contain the same sections and information, nor will sections always be in the same spot on the form; plus you might encounter abbreviations that you are not familiar with. But the more horse races you bet on, the more horse racing cards and abbreviations you will eventually understand.

Horse Racing Form Example

The following illustrates a simple line from a horse racing form that you might encounter:

  • 312-21-9 Man’s Best Friend Mr. Neil White 12-0 T. McDonald

The first number in this sequence, 312, shows where ‘Man’s Best Friend’ finished in the last three races. You read this number from right to left, and the horse’s last two finishes were second and first place. The second number, 21, shows where the horse crossed the finish line in their last two races. So the best two finishes for ‘Man’s Best Friend’ this year would be first and second place. The third number in the sequence, 9, is the horse’s race number, and this is displayed on the saddlecloth during a race.

As indicated in the above paragraph, ‘Man’s Best Friend’ is the name of the horse, while Mr. Neil White is the horse’s trainer. The 12-0 number indicates the weight that the horse will be carrying throughout the race (usually includes the jockey); this number is listed in imperial weight format in the UK. The amount of weight a horse carries gains more significance as the race gets longer since extra stones hurt a horse’s endurance. Finally, T. McDonald would be the jockey’s name who rides the horse.

Detailed Form

Some horse racing cards are more detailed than the aforementioned example, which you can see with the following:

  • 8 Man’s Best Friend (20) ………3 12-0
    Running Wild – Noble Steed (Finish Line Siege)
    John Thompson…………(Neil White, Loughborough Leicestershire)

Stable Castle won, with Man’s Best Friend 2nd, beaten 2L, Man’s Best Friend started slow, finished race strong and almost won.

Starting with the first line, 8 represents the horse’s number, 20 is how many days since the horse‘s last race, 3 is the horse’s age, and 12-0 is the weight carried by the horse. The second line indicates the name of the horse’s sire (Running Wild), the horse’s dam (Noble Steed), and the dam’s sire (Finish Line Siege). The third line shows the owner (John Thompson), the trainer, and the trainer’s location (Loughborough, Leicestershire). The last line shows who won in ‘Man’s Best Friend’ last race, where ‘Man’s Best Friend’ finished, details on how the horse ran, and how many lengths the horse won or lost by.

Picking Winners with These Forms

The one downside to horse racing cards is that everybody has access to the same information. However, not everybody has as much skill in putting the information on horse racing forms to good use. For example, some punters may overlook vital information such as how much weight a horse is carrying, or how many days it has been since the horse’s last race. On the other hand, an experienced punter will include all of these statistics in their overall analysis of a horse’s chance to win.

Of course, it always helps out when you know some details about the different horses going into a race. For example, if one horse is making the switch from dirt to turf, their last race results may be less relevant. Furthermore, a horse that is making a switch in surfaces may be doing so because they are expected to perform better on this particular surface. Long story short, it pays to know a broad range of betting tips, in addition to studying horse racing forms for the race at hand so you can make your best educated wagers.

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