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Any inexperienced horse racing fans, or people who are thinking about getting into the sport really need to spend some time learning how to read the form correctly. This is a huge part of horse racing, something that every knowledgeable racing fan understands, and if you are to make a success out of your gambling then you need to be able to read and understand the form.
Fans of other sports will always look at statistics to see how a team has been performing recently before they place a bet, and horse racing is no different. The form book is a tool that punters should always turn to, and if you know how to use it then it will quickly become your best friend.
The form will not give you every answer you need, and watching horse racing live can help, but understanding the form will help you make better-informed choices about your selections and will help narrow down the field. In the long run, making the correct decisions will help you make more money from your gambling on horses, so it makes sense to put some time into reading the form.
The form guide will look slightly different depending on where you get it from, but they all show the same basic information. So once you know what to look for, it makes life a lot easier. The best horse racing bookies will show all of this information on their own sites, so there is no need to buy racing papers or go hunting around the internet to find what you need.
The picture below shows what the form will look like in some places, it may be different to how you normally view it, but the information will all be the same.
Note that the annotations have been added by us, to show you what each piece of information means. You will not see these when you view the race card on the bookmaker’s website. However, you can always bookmark and refer back to this guide if you get stuck.
The above graphic may look a little complicated right now to you, but hopefully, at least you can understand the style of a form guide. Below is a step by step description of everything there is on the form card, giving you the information you need to be able to read the form alone. You may also want to refer to our guide to horse racing jargon if any of these terms are new to you.
From left to right, we’ll now explain what it all means in detail.
This is a simple one. This is the number the horse will wear during the race.
This only applies to flat races. It is the number of the stall that your horse will exit. The draw has more importance over smaller distances and on tighter tracks.
This is one of the most important pieces of information on display. It shows the recent form of the chosen horse, with the right-hand side number being their most recent outing. This will give an overview of their recent form, how well they have been running and how many times they have run this season.
The – (dash or minus sign) means an end of season break. So for example, form of 6314-53 would mean that the horse has run twice this season, finishing 5th and then 3rd. This is an obvious sign that the horse is improving and getting close to full fitness, so it could be expected to win soon. Many punters look for this sort of thing when analysing the race!
If you see a 0 in the horse’s form, it means that it did not finish the race in the top 9 places. Obviously, this is not a good sign, although there may be mitigating circumstances to explain it.
This is the colours to look out for during the race.
This is the name you need to cheer on during the race.
This is the colour of your horse. The most common ones are below.
B – Bay
Ch – Chestnut
Br – Brown
Gr – Grey
This is the sex of your horse, which can be one of the below.
G – Gelding, a gelded male horse
C – Colt, a non-gelded male horse
F – Filly, a young female horse
M – Mare, an older female horse
This is the stallion that sired your horse. People who are into breeding will look for this.
This is the mare who is your horse’s mother, again something people who are into breeding will look for.
This is the stallion that sired your horse’s mother. In horse racing, strong blood lines are important so this is important information for people who look at breeding.
This tells you how long it has been since your horse last ran. As a general rule of thumb, a regular runner will always be fitter than a horse that is coming back from a break.
The letters you will see here are those below.
D – The horse has won over this distance before
Cl – The horse has won in the same class before
G – The horse has won on this going before
C – The horse has won at this course before
A horse can have more than one of these, they can even have all four, so, for example, a horse with CDGCl would be a course and distance winner, on the same ground and in the same class. That would tick a lot of boxes for some people.
This is the age of your horse. Horses begin their racing careers at 2, although as a 2-year-old they will only ever run against horses of the same age. As a 3-year-old they can run against either fellow 3-year-olds or older horses. Once a horse reaches 4, the majority of races they run in are for either 3-year-olds and over, or 4-year-olds and over.
This is the weight the horse will carry in the race. The horse will carry the jockey, plus additional weights in the saddle to make up the weight on the race card. Some races are run off level weights, where all horses carry the same, while handicap races and a few other types have horses running on different weights, based on their ability.
This is the official rating of the horse. The higher the number the better rated the horse is on official figures. If you look at handicaps, you will notice the weight the horse is carrying and the official rating work together. In these races, 1lb equals the same as 1 point in the official ratings, so if a horse is rated 75, it will carry 5lb more than a horse rated 70 in a handicap.
You can see that more clearly in the picture below, where the annotations are removed.
This is the name of the jockey who will be riding the horse.
This is the name of the trainer who trains the horse.
Understanding the form guide is not as difficult as it looks to begin with. The form guide offers a lot of valuable information for punters and knowing which is the important information and how to extract it will make you a better horse racing gambler, which is ultimately what we all want to be.