How To Read Horse Racing Form

how to read horse racing form

Learn How to read Horse Racing form

Knowing how to read Horse racing form is a crucial part of Horse racing unless of course you prefer the lucky pin approach or just picking a Horse because you like the name. But if you want to stand a chance at making a profit betting you need to understand how to read Horse Racing form. Picking a winner is not a science. We are dealing with animals.

When looking at a race there are various things to be taken into consideration. Also consider where you are placing your Lucky 15 bets as the Betfred Lucky 15 bonus is well worth checking out. But back to how to read horse Racing form.We shall look closer at the different aspects.

In general, looking at all aspects will lead you to the favourite. The betting on the favourite stats are not good. A bet on every favourite will lose you money. The best strategy is to look for value, value is where the price appears to be bigger than the selections chance of winning.

Don’t bet on every race. Some are just too complicated. Don’t bet on races where there is little or no form (Maidens for example). Be wary of a horse that has not run for some time as they may not be fit. All of this will be 2nd nature when you’ve learnt how to read Horse Racing form


Form will tell you how the horse has been competing in the recent past and its ability over a period of time. Recent history tends to be the most reliable. Be careful figures 123 etc can be misleading especially when you don’t know how to read the Horse Racing form. Very few horses win two races in a row. Having won its previous race its price may not be value. A horse coming 5th in another race may have better form than the horse that won.

Be aware of the quality of the races. Either by its class, value or even the number of horses in the race. Was a horse badly drawn, was the going against it. was it hampered in running. Remember that a horse doing well in a race will normally carry more weight in its next race. There’s a good article on Wikipedia about reading the form that covers which letters mean what too. Such as a “P” means the Horse was pulled up or a “U” means they unseated the rider.

Going and why its important when learning how to read Horse Racing form
Some horses perform on any going. But many do not. Some will perform on soft or heavy only and some may perform better on firm or good ground only. Look at the history which will give you a good indication because it can be a huge factor when learning how to read Horse Racing form. A Horse that’s only ever won on hard ground is most likely going to struggle on heavy ground…


The draw affects flat races up to one mile in distance. Different courses will have different bias. Learn what those courses are. A bad draw is a definite minus. A good draw is a plus. Where possible look at the results of previous races on the same day.


Horses are bred to run at a distance. They can be sprinters, middle distance or long distance horses. The flat is always 5 furlongs to 2 miles. ( The odd race will go beyond 2m but its a rarity ) Jump races are generally 2 miles to 4 miles over hurdles or fences. Trainers will normally run horses at a distance that suits the horse but it is worth checking.

Most horses bred for flat racing will have there first run at 2 years old and these races will be between 5 furlongs and 1 mile. A young horse may be bred for long distance but will appear in a 5 furlong race 1st up. But there’s no exact formula for young horses so may be worth checking the breeding.

Red Rum won three Grand Nationals at 4 miles plus but its 1st win was a 6f sprint. Distance is important but in younger horses there are too many variables and these races should generally be avoided.

Trainer Form

There are 3 types of trainers

Out of form
Based on his wins to runs ratio. A good racing paper will give you the information of when a trainer is going through a bad period. This is a definite minus when making a selection. There are many reasons for poor form but they all lead to dismissing a horse on the grounds of bad trainer form.

Trainer in form
I do not take much heed to a trainer doing well other than it can indicate that a horse should run to its ability. Trainers in good form still have their fair share of losers.

Good and respected trainers
Punters tend to side with top trainers. This is not necessarily a good thing on two counts. Firstly a price may be lower because of the trainer which will lower the value of the bet. Secondly top trainers still lose vastly more races than they win. On the plus side top trainers have earned the right to have good horses and they are likely to run to their ability.


The ability of a jockey tends to be a matter of opinion. Again top jockeys have earned the right to ride top horses. A top jockey is one who wins lots of races on a regular basis. A good jockey may ensure that a horse runs to its ability so in turn is an important factor when you know how to read Horse Racing form.

The odds

The odds in any race will be made by the bookmaker based on their opinion and the form of the horses. Prices will vary from bookie to bookie. After that the odds may change based on the amount of money placed on any given horse. The bookmakers tend to be cautious on the opening odds and prices can improve as we get closer to the race. However if you believe the opening or early price to be value (greater than it should be) take it!!!

Types of races


Horses that have never won a race. A horse will be given a handicap when he has won a maiden or after 3 races.
sellers and claimers. These races are for horses with little or no ability. Horses can be sold or claimed after such races. The form of such races cannot be relied on. However it is worth looking out for horses who are consistent in this sphere or horses who have been running in better class races.


Run by younger horses that may have won races. It is not handicapped or has a limited handicap. Horses that are well thought of tend to run in these races and the form should be noted.

Handicaps and the importance when reading Horse Racing form

A horse is given a rating based on the opinion of the handicappers. After each race the handicapper will amend the rating of the horse based on the result. In general the winner and placed horses rating will go up while the rest will stay the same or go down.

That rating will determine which handicap races the horse can enter. Handicap races are in general, 0 – 70, 0 – 80, 0 – 90 or 0 – 100 ( there are some variables ). If a horse is rated 95 it could only run in 0 – 100 races.

The rating determines the weight the horse will carry on its back. The higher rated horse will carry the most weight while the lowest rated horse will carry the least weight and can be a defining aspect when you know how to read Horse Racing form.

The aim of the handicapper is to ensure that all races end as a dead heat. Although impossible it ensures each and every horse “should” have a chance of winning.

Listed races and Groups 3, 2 and 1

These races are for the better horses, generally rated over 100. Listed races may have a limited handicap. But will generally be raced on equal weights. The exception may be where a horse has won at a higher level and is given a small penalty ( horse has won a group 1 and is now racing in a group 2 race). A filly will also be given less weight than a colt.

Summary of our how to read Horse Racing form page

I hope you’ve enjoyed the read and have learnt the best way on how to read Horse Racing form. We’ve tried to keep it as short as possible so not to get boring but still give you all the important bits of information that you need. 1 last thing before you go.

Check out our Betfred lucky 15 bonus. It’s a great way to recoup any losses. Now you know how to read Horse Racing form your good to go. Good luck at the races. If you think there’s anything we’ve missed or have any questions please leave a comment below titled how to read horse racing form. We will answer any questions and add it to the page.

All contributions and anything that can help other punters to learn how to read horse racing form is much appreciated.