When it comes to horse racing, there are many variables to consider when trying to pick out a winning horse before a race has even started. Although it’s impossible to say that a horse will definitely win, there are many factors that can point to a strong probability that a horse will win or get placed (come second or third).
One of the best ways to pick up some horse racing tips is by 'reading the form', the process of looking over a horse’s past performances and gauging whether or not it has a realistic chance. However, this is an in-depth, analytical approach; if you’re looking for a quick way to pick a horse then there are a few factors that are vital to a successful choice.
Scanning a race card can be tricky, but the task is made simpler if you look at the horse’s form figures, which are always found immediately to the left of the horse’s name. If the figures are predominantly firsts, seconds and thirds, then you can safely assume that the animal is consistent.
Additionally, it is mostly sensible to veer away from the top of the race card, because that is where the horses that carry the most weight are found (i.e. carrying the heaviest jockeys and saddles). However, the horses allotted the most weight have been done so because of previous good performances, so this method is not foolproof. It is also an idea to look at the betting forecast, because the bookmakers are often one step ahead of the punter.
Such swift methods may lead to one or two successes in horse racing betting, but cannot guarantee consistent returns. Indeed, it remains much easier to pick a winner if you study the form, for only then can you assess all the variables. Let’s take the 2011 Grand National as an example: the winner, Ballabriggs, demonstrated extraordinary stamina to win the longest race in the world. The horse’s jockey, Jason Maguire, and his trainer, Donald McCain Jr, are widely recognised as a successful jockey/trainer combination. At Aintree in April, the ground was good, and Ballabriggs had run with credit on good ground previously. Additionally, Ballabriggs is a proven jumper, and his performance over the larger obstacles came as no surprise.
If we delve further, looking at previous races, we can see that this was a horse that liked running round a right-handed track, as Aintree is. This shows that there are other, more complex variables at play when it comes to horse racing betting: how much a horse likes a track, how much a horse has gone up in the weights since its last run, how often a horse runs, how well the jockey knows the horse, how good the trainer is, and so on.
Perhaps the most important factor is how good a jockey is at judging a race. With an experienced jockey on board, the horse’s chance automatically improves. It is difficult to gauge how good a jockey is without knowing each one individually, but it would do no harm to follow the likes of AP McCoy, Andrew Thornton, Ruby Walsh, Richard Johnson and Timmy Murphy. Some punters are known to base every selection they make on one jockey alone.
The best method for choosing a horse is ultimately down to the individual; indeed, many people rely purely on instincts to decide which one they’re going to back. However, the best chance of consistently picking winners is by picking up on horse racing tips by studying as many variables as possible before every race. Websites such as Paddy Power Sports and Bet365 Sports have in-depth details for each horse, so you can study the form and make an informed decision based on the knowledge you’ve accrued.