Studying form – how to spot a good horse to bet on.

Horse race betting.

When you are new to horse race betting, it can be a bit overwhelming to figure out what you should look for. You can speak to fellow punters, do some research or look at TVG’s horse racing betting guide.

However, one thing that will help you out, regardless, is to know and understand the form. This will help you spot a good horse to bet on, and it will give you more information as to which horse is most likely to win the race, as well as which types of races they excel at.

Today we will talk you through how to do this and give you all the information you need on why this is important.

Reading the form.

The form is a record of a horses’ performance in previous races. It is seen by many as a very good way to predict a horse’s future performance. Comparing horses’ form should give you the chance to pick the likely best performers in any race.

In the race card it will usually be arranged  as a line of numbers which will imply finishing positions, it can also appear as abbreviations.

The form runs from left to right, with the oldest races on the left-hand side, and the most recent races on the right-hand side.

Numbers 1-9 will indicate the position in which the horse finished the race. If there is a 0 then it indicates that the horse finished outside the first 9. The symbol ‘-’ separates the racing sessions, and any numbers that appear before the ‘-’ are for the last season.

The symbol ‘/’ indicates a longer gap, so if a horse missed an entire season, this might be present.

P or PU, indicates that the horse was pulled up by the Jockey, and then they did not complete the race.

For jump races you may see abbreviations on the form, such as ‘F’ indicating a fall, ‘R’ indicated a refusal on behalf of the horse, ‘BD’ indicating that the horse was brought down by another runner, and ‘U’ or ‘UR’ which would indicate that the horse unseated their jockey.

You can also be ‘C’ which will indicate a horse has won on that same course before, a ‘D’ which would indicate that a horse has won that distance before, a ‘CD’ indicating that the horse has won both course and distance before’, and ‘BF’ indicating that they have beaten a favorite before, or they were a favorite for a race before but did not win. Some races will have different notes on these, however, generally this is standard.

If you are not sure what an abbreviation means, do not be afraid to look it up and research what it may mean in that particular race or track.

Recent results.

We mentioned looking at their previous results briefly. This is important to picking a winning horse. Understanding how the horse has performed before, and in the last few races, can give you an idea of whether they are a good choice. The finishing positions will appear as numbers on the race card, and they may look like 2-6-4-4-1-6, for example.

A horse that has come first and second before, like our above example, in their last 6 races is a good shout for a win.

You can also look back and see the conditions for the races, as this will give you even more information as to what was different in the races where the horse came second, and where the horse came sixth.

Types of track.

Also consider the type of surface the horse ran on. While this might not seem to be so important at first, most punters will know that it is very important. Every horse has a forte, and some may be better at running on hard dry surfaces, whereas others will do better in boggy conditions.

If a horse has a history of doing well on hard and solid ground, they are unlikely to do so well in a race where the track is a bit saturated from heavy rainfall.

Similarly, you want to look at the pace of the race too. Some horses may get better results in fixtures where the pace is strong. Horses like such may not be able to accelerate a great deal at the end of a race.

Look at the trainers.

It is also important that you look at how the trainer tends to do at this particular course. If the race is an annual event, look at the previous year’s results. Some trainers may actually target one particular race and specifically train their horses for this race.

There are a few things you should look for when you are trying to pick a winner, and as you become more experienced, you will pick up on them more. At first it can be easier to focus on one type of race, so you get to know the horses and what to look for that type of race in particular.


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