Horse Racing Betting Strategy

Horse racing remains one of the most popular and exciting sports to bet on. But for the casual punter, or even seasoned pros looking to liven up their approach, the sheer number of 'dead cert' methods and the volume of data available in form guides, racing papers and beyond can seem like enormous hurdles to choosing a reliable betting strategy.

When it comes down to it, though, it's not as difficult as it may first appear - in fact, all approaches are built on three fundamental principles: studying form, knowing your horse, and playing the numbers game.

Horse Racing Strategy Articles

Studying the Form

The form guide is the starting point for every self-respecting horse racing aficionado, and some systems are based solely on trend spotting in these racing-in-a-nutshell data sheets. A form guide will tell you:

  • Horse's Last Racing Positions | usually set out as, for example, 321-14-7 meaning that last year the horse came 3rd, 2nd and 1st, this year it came 1st then 4th, and it will wear the number seven
  • Horse's and Trainer's Names | some systems run solely on names; the identity of the trainer is useful information, however, as a bit of research will turn up their experience in training winners
  • Horse's Weight| something to compare to the rest of the field to work out how big, quick or easily tired a horse could be
  • Jockey | the talent, experience and skill of a jockey is valued as much as the pedigree of the horse in some systems, and rightly so

If you cross reference these details with the conditions of the races your horse has run, there's enough information on a form guide to build a basic, successful system. And many punters do just that.

Knowing Your Horse

On top of the form guide, a number of bookies are making a horse's recent race history available for their customers to watch online. Many professional gamblers absorb information better this way, because you get a feel of how a horse runs on various surfaces, how it responds in a pack, which lanes the horse and jockey are most at home in, when the jockey decides to push that bit harder and so on.

These elements are often available in condensed, jargon-heavy paragraphs in publications like The Racing Post, but nothing beats witnessing a race for yourself. First hand experience at the tracks can go along way when getting to know your horse.

Playing the 'Numbers Game'

Many a horse racing betting strategy ignores such detailed assessments and simply plays the numbers game. These systems frequently follow financial models, and are best deployed at betting exchanges where you can lay as well as bet. Examples of techniques involved in the numbers game are: hedging (betting on multiple horses to spread your risk) and arbitrage (laying a horse when odds are low, backing it when odds are high).

This approach is best suited to those who know numbers better than sport, but they take dedication to a system, and there's no room for panic betting. Of course, most systems incorporate elements of all of these methods.

Very few rely on just one method. The important thing is to know which principle best fits your approach to betting, build your system with that as a basis, and apply it consistently over a fixed period of time so that you can accurately and fairly assess its viability.

Horse Racing Strategy Articles

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