Horse racing is one of the most popular sports to bet on in the UK, alongside football and tennis. As is the case with every other sport, you should learn as much as you can about the event you are betting on before placing your wager.
When it comes to horse racing, the easiest way to do that is to learn how to study horse racing form by analysing the information available on a racecard.
In our guide, we will tell you everything you need to know about racecards, symbols, numbers, and abbreviations on them. Moreover, we will show you how reading a racecard can help you study a horse racing form and place a well-informed bet.
Six Quick Facts About Reading Horse Racing Form
- Horse racing is one of the most popular sports in the UK.
- Horse racing form is a record of a horse’s performance in previous races.
- Timeform is one of the best tools for studying horse racing form.
- The best way to learn how to study horse racing form is by understanding a racecard.
- Apart from going, distance, and weight carried, horse racing form is the most crucial aspect to consider when betting on horses.
- Royal Ascot, the Grand National, and the Cheltenham Festival are some of the biggest horse races in the UK.
How to Read a Horse Racing Form
By looking at a horse’s form, you will be able to evaluate its odds of winning, which is why horse racing form is perhaps the most relevant bit of information a racecard can give you. Of course, before you can learn how to read horse racing form, you will first have to find out how to read a racecard and obtain information about the horse’s previous races.
A racecard is essential for every punter looking to bet on horses, and it contains all the necessary information you will need about a race. It includes details about a course, trainers, jockeys, horse owners, and much more. It will also show you whether a horse has previously won on the same type of course or distance.
When it comes to learning how to study horse racing form, a racecard is one of the most effective items that can help quickly learn about a horse’s history, as it contains all the necessary information.
If you have never bet on horses before, trying to decipher all the information available on a racecard will prove rather challenging, if not impossible. To help you out, we will tell you everything you need to know about different horse racing abbreviations, the numbers and symbols on a racecard, and more.
Horse Racing Form Guide
The first thing you will notice is the general information about the race that will usually be printed on the race card header. Learning how to understand the abbreviations will help you find out more about the track. Before reading horse racing form, you should learn more about the going. This can help you place a wager since some horses prefer racing on a specific type of ground. The following abbreviations are used to explain the going:
- F or fm stands for firm.
- G or gd stands for good.
- Hd is used to indicate a hard terrain.
- Hy or hvy stands for heavy.
- S or sft stands for soft terrain.
- Stand is used to indicate the standard AW going.
On the far left of the card, you will most likely notice the jockey’s shirt colours and a set of numbers. These numbers generally range from 1–9 and, if you are betting online, they are often used to indicate how favourable a horse is to win.
While knowing this won’t help you learn how to read horse racing form directly, it will help immensely with picking a winner. For example, a number in brackets next to the jockey’s shirt colour represents the stall number from which the horse will start the race.
This number is called a draw, and it is an essential thing to factor in when placing bets. Namely, it often plays a significant role in races since some people believe a particular side of the race track is better than the other.
Horse Racing Form Numbers and Symbols
Alongside the jockey’s colours and horse’s draw, you will see a set of numbers, letters, and symbols, all of which represent the horse’s statistics from its previous race and its form.
Here’s how to read them and what each of those symbols and numbers means:
- Numbers 1–9 indicate the horse’s position in a previous race, while 0 means it didn’t place in the first nine horses. There will usually be several numbers alongside each other, such as 1314, for example.
- The symbol ‘–’ is used to indicate separate racing seasons, and the numbers before the symbol represent the horse’s statistics for the previous season.
- The symbol ‘/’ is used to indicate a longer gap. Quite often, this means the horse hasn’t raced for a while, and it skipped an entire racing season.
If you want to find out how to study horse racing form, these numbers and symbols are the best place to start. One thing to remember is that having 1314 next to a horse’s number does not mean the horse finished 1314th. Instead, it represents the horse’s position in several different races. The most recent race is always displayed on the right, and in our example, it means the horse finished fourth in its last race.
Horse Racing Form Abbreviations
In addition to all the symbols and numbers, you may also encounter several different letters used to explain a horse racing form and its past performances:
- B or BD stands for brought down, and it shows whether a horse was brought down by another horse in a collision.
- C stands for carried out.
- D stands for disqualified.
- F indicates whether a horse fell during the race.
- L is used to show that a horse left the race at the start.
- RO means a horse ran out.
- P or PU indicates that a jockey pulled the horse from a race and shows the horse didn’t complete the race.
- R stands for refused, and it shows whether a horse refused to race.
- S indicates that a horse slipped during the race.
- U or UR is used to show that a horse unseated its jockey.
- V stands for a void race, and it means there were no results from that race.
Therefore, if you combine all the numbers, abbreviations, and horse racing form symbols, a horse’s form may be presented like 322/7-F1, for example. In this scenario, it means the horse finished third, then second two times in a row, had a break from racing, and came back and finished seventh. After a new season started, the horse fell during a race, and in its last race, it finished first.
Horse Racing Form Explained
Alongside the horse’s statistics from previous races, you will most often find a horse’s name and race number. Additionally, you may also find several other abbreviations in the brackets next to the horse’s name.
- C stands for course, and it is used to show that a horse has won on the same type of course before.
- D stands for distance, and it shows that a horse has already won on the same distance.
- J stands for a joint favourite.
- OR indicates the horse’s official rating.
- CD is a combination of the two and indicates that a horse has already won on the same course and the distance of the course.
- BF is used to indicate that a horse was a favourite in the previous race but did not win.
Make sure you don’t mix these horse racing form abbreviations with the ones used to refer to horse’s statistics from previous races. Even though they use the same letters, they represent entirely different things.
Additionally, you will encounter a set of three numbers next to a horse’s name. These numbers are used to indicate the horse’s age and weight. The statistics can be written as 5 9 0 or 4 8 10, for example. In this scenario, the first horse is five years old and weighs 9 stones and 0 pounds. Naturally, the horse’s age and weight play a significant role in learning how to read a horse racing form.
Lastly, a racecard will also include the jockey’s name and a number next to it. In some situations, the number next to the jockey’s name refers to the horse’s official BHA rating, or it can refer to a Timeform rating. These ratings are an excellent tool for reading horse racing form since they are some of the best horse racing resources out there.
At the same time, a publication may also use its rating system that usually ranges from 1 to 100. In that case, the number indicates which jockey/horse is most likely to win, and the higher the number, the better the horse’s odds.
The Bottom Line
As you can see, a racecard holds a ton of relevant information, most of which you will need to factor in when placing your bet. However, the most relevant information a racecard displays is the horse’s recent form.
Granted, while it may take some time to memorise all the abbreviations, it will become significantly easier to bet on horses and pick a winner once you learn how to study horse racing form and read a racecard.
Although today’s racecards provide almost all the information you will need to study a horse’s form, they only display the data about the horse’s most recent races. If you wish to dig deeper, you can always find more about horse racing form on various internet sites or form annuals.
Regardless of how you decide to go about it, make sure to study all the available information carefully before placing a wager.