Updated: October 2019

How to Read the Racing Form Guide

15 April 2019

Horse racing is one of the first and most popular sports to place a bet on, with several race meetings held every day, different markets available, and widespread TV coverage.

But, to place a bet on horse racing you must first do your research and the best way to do this is to study the form guide.

Horse Racing Race Card

Every race that takes place will have a race card, which gives vital information about each horse, their form, age, weight, jockey etc. which will look like this.

To someone unfamiliar with horse racing, this race card may look extremely confusing but it’s pretty simple to figure out once you know what each section means.

Race Information

At the top of the racecard we see the time of the race, course name, and length of race. In this case it’s the 15:00 at Windsor, being ran over a distance of 5 furlongs and 21 yards.

Under that is the name of the race, with sponsorship information and the type of race, the class of the race and any restrictions in place for the race. The above race is a class 4 handicap and is only open to horses aged over four-years-old.

Number/Draw

The first number you see is the number of the horse, and which will be worn on the horses saddle for the race. In a handicap race, this can work as a guide to which horse is carrying most weight as the numbers are in order of weight from heaviest to lightest.

The number in brackets shows which stall the horse has been drawn in and is only relevant to flat racing. This can give a horse an advantage and it’s always worthwhile looking at course information to find out if the draw will have an affect on the outcome of a race.

Silk

This is simply what colours the jockey will wear for the race. It helps to identify the horse you’ve backed and is especially helpful in races with a lot of runners.

Form

This is one of the most important things to look at and it tells you how well, or indeed how badly, a horse has been performing recently. The numbers are where the horse finished in each race with the most recent being to the far right of the form column.

So, if we look at number 4 from the above race card we see the numbers 85-3811. This means that the horse has won its last two races, finished eighth in the race before, third before that, and the “-” indicates a break.

In jump racing, you may see letters among the numbers to show the horse didn’t finish the race and for what reason. These could be:

• F – The horse fell
• U or UR – The horse unseated its rider
• PU – The horse was pulled up by the jockey before completing the race
• BD – The horse was brought down by another horse during the race

Horse Details

This is where we see vital information for the horse, including the name of the horse and their breeding. Next to the horses name you will see a number, which is 20 for horse number 4. This indicates how many days it has been since the horse last ran. Next to that will be a series of letters, such as “C”, “D”, or “CD”. These letters give an indication as to the horses form on the course, over the distance, and other vital information.

• C – This means the horse has won at this course before but not at the distance of the race being ran in.
• D – This indicates the horse has won over the distance the race is being ran but not at the same course.
• CD – This means the horse has previously won at this course and over the same distance.
• BF – This tells us the horse was a beaten favourite in its last race.

Age/Weight

This tells us how old the horse is and the weight the horse will be carrying for the race. Sometimes, such as the “V” next to number 12, there will be letters used to indicate the horse will be wearing a certain type of equipment during the race.

• b – This means the horse will be wearing blinkers
• v – The horse will be wearing a visor
• h – The horse will be wearing a hood
• t – The horse will be wearing a tongue strap
• e/s – The horse will be wearing an eye shield
• p – The horse will be wearing cheek pieces

All of this equipment can have an impact on how the horse runs, so is worth noting before placing a bet.

Jockey/Trainer

This indicates the name of the trainer and which jockey will be riding the horse for the race. You may see a number in brackets next to a jockeys name, which indicates an apprentice or conditional rider who is able to claim a weight allowance. This weight allowance is in pounds and is either 7, 5, or 3.

Official Rating

The number at the end is the official rating given to the horse, with the higher number meaning the horse is considered to be better than the rest. In handicap races this will mean the higher rated horses carrying more weight as to try and level out the playing field.

Odds

It isn’t shown in the race card above, but the betting odds of the horse will also be given either in a section after the official rating or underneath the racecard itself. This will indicate which horse the bookies think has the best chance of winning the race.

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