Anyone who wants to make a profit from betting on horse racing must first understand how to study the form.
There are lots of different factors that can affect the outcome of a race and it is important to weigh these up before parting with your hard-earned cash.
Every meeting has its own racecard which includes details such as form figures, age, weight, trainer, jockey and draw (for races on the flat).
However, when you place any horse racing bets it is crucial to scratch below the surface to fully understand the form.
Crunching the numbers
Horses that have previously competed in races will have a series of numbers next to their name which may look like this – 312612.
In this example, the horse has won twice and been placed three times from its last six starts, so may well be in with a chance of winning the race.
Although the previous finishing positions are a great place to start when studying the form, they don’t tell the whole story.
For instance, this particular horse’s wins may have come in uncompetitive races, meaning you need to delve further into the form to unravel the merit of the numbers.
Track, trip and conditions
Whenever you are studying the form pay close attention to the track a previous race was run at and what distance it was held over.
On the flat, a horse that runs well on turf tracks may not perform as well on all-weather surfaces and vice-versa.
It is a similar scenario over jumps, with horses that are good hurdlers sometimes not as effective when they run in a steeplechase.
Ground conditions are also important – some horses like soft ground, some firm and some like good ground – so make sure that your selection is suited to the conditions it will be running on.
Type and class of race
All races are graded, with the lowest class of horse running in ‘sellers’, while the very best horses compete in Group 1 events.
There is a whole range of grades in between, so when you are studying the form always assess whether the horse is suited to the level it is running at.
Handicap races are perhaps the most difficult to fathom, as these are not only graded but also see the horses allocated a specific weight to carry.
These types of races aim to put the horses on an equal footing, with the perceived best horse in the race given the biggest weight to carry.
Jockeys and trainers
Many punters like to follow specific jockeys and trainers throughout the season and this can be a great way to find winners.
Some jockeys excel at particular courses – for example, Frankie Dettori at Ascot – while others may shine when they team up with a certain trainer.
Theories of this nature can also be applied in reverse, with many trainers doing well in particular types of races or on specific tracks.
Using this information can help you unlock the key to a race and boost your chances of picking winners on a regular basis.