How do I read form?

The ability to analyse and interpret horse racing form remains an essential part of the armoury of the serious punter. Even at a basic level, the racecards available in industry publications, such as the ‘Racing Post’, provide valuable insight into the factors commonly involved in determining the outcome of a horse race.

Incontrovertibly, such factors include course, distance, going and class and, on a horse-by-horse basis, jockey, trainer and owner, collectively known as ‘connections’, age, weight and recent form. On a typical racecard, the so-called ‘form figures’ – that is, the series of numbers and/or letters to the left of the name of each horse – provide an at-a-glance synopsis of recent performances. This information, alone, may be sufficient to allow you to start to form opinions on likely outcomes of the race in question, but to make logical, well-reasoned betting decisions, you probably need to delve a little further into the form.

Naturally enough, horse races are won, more often than not, by horses that are attempting little, or nothing, more than they have achieved in the past. A horse that has won or come to close to winning on one or more recent outings, under the same or similar conditions, is already ‘proven’, to some extent, and worthy of closer inspection. Ultimately, you need to convince yourself that a horse not only has the ability to win the race in question, but is fit and ready to do itself justice under the prevailing conditions.