Horse Racing Betting Strategy: How to Read Form
Horse racing form isn't as daunting as it first appears and your prospects of being successful at betting sites increases greatly once you understand how to read it.
However, understanding form is only half the battle - being able to make sense of that data is arguably more important.
This guide will improve your ability to assess form quickly and efficiently, thus increasing your prospects of backing that all-important winner.
A horse's profile, generally accessible by clicking on the horse name in the betting, contains all the information you need about that particular individual. From the most basic information like a horse's age, sex, breeding information (sire and dam etc.), owner and trainer name.
All of this information carries its own unique level of importance. For example, age can be relevant if a young horse is racing against elders and getting a significant weight allowance, while a particular trainer might be on a hot or cold streak, making that particular runner more or less attractive depending on the form of the stable.
A full list of a horse’s previous outings is normally accessible from several websites. The most recent run will always be at the top of the list.
Most recent form is generally perceived to be the most important because it provides a general insight into the well-being of that individual, but it is by no means the be all and end all. Delving into previous runs, however time-consuming, is a must if you want to be successful when laying down bets at horse racing betting sites.
One of the most important things to understand about a form figure is the context. A '1' next to a horse’s name always looks good, but that first may actually be worth less than a form figure of '6' or '7' if those came in a much higher grade of competition.
To simplify, winning a claimer at Catterick isn't anything like the equivalent as winning the Derby, so the key is to always delve into each line of form and assess the quality of opposition. If you are unsure, ratings always help to quantify the level to which a horse ran.
Individual prize money information will also be detailed. This will be broken down by win prize money, placed prize money and total career earnings.
The form figures of a horse's most recent five runs (most recent on the right) are normally displayed next to the horse's name. Other information likely to be detailed is the stall the horse is coming out of, if it is a Flat race (this may seem irrelevant but it can have a major bearing on the result, especially at a tight-turning track like Chester).
The weight a horse is set to carry will also be specified – e.g. 11-10 (eleven stone and ten pounds). This information is slightly more spurious without the knowledge of the size and weight of each horse, but as a general rule, horses carrying more weight than similarly-rated rivals, are often worth taking on.
A number signifying number of days since the horse last ran generally appears somewhere on the form line, often next to the horse's name. Horses that have been off the track for a long time (e.g. 200+ days) may not be at their peak fitness wise.
The jockey name will also appear in the form line. This particular piece of information can be interpreted in many different ways, one example of which is that some jockeys excel at certain courses, or types of course such as Franny Norton in the UK who particularly excels at Chester.
Official Ratings (OR) are issued by the BHA and carry a lot of significance. In handicaps, the runner with the highest OR carries the most weight, and the lowest the least. If a horse is rated 5lb higher than a rival, he will carry 5lb more than that rival. The theory behind handicaps is that the entire field should finish in a line across the track, but theory isn't everything, especially in horse racing.
Official Ratings are majorly significant in stakes races, where horses generally carry the same amount of weight (ignoring age and sex allowances). In this scenario, horses rated much higher are at an advantage, providing conditions (track, ground, distance etc) are in their favour.
Detailed Previous Runs
If you are looking at the form of a horse on one of the main racing sites, you will be able to click on the date of a previous run and it will bring up certain information about that particular race.
Finishing order, distance beaten, ratings, official winning time, official ground are all likely to be contained, as well as a 'close up' comment, which provides some brief detail of the trip of each horse. An example of this would be: 'Held up, steady headway, challenged final furlong, failed narrowly'.
You will also have the option of watching a video of the race, although there are costs involved in that on certain sites.
Watching re-runs of races can be a key angle to improving your horse racing betting success. You may spot something others have missed and information like that may prove beneficial going forward.
Many websites now have horse tracker facilities, which can be invaluable if you don't have time to trawl through cards every day. They will send you an alert when any horse in your tracker is declared for a race.
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