For those who head to the races on a regular basis, knowing how to read horse racing form has become second nature.
But what about those of you who don't know your PU from your F? Just how exactly do you read the form and can it help you make better betting decisions?
I'm going to take you through what all of the various shorthand means. So the next time you open the paper or go online you will be able to make sense of it all.
Reading An Online Horse Racing Form
Above is a screenshot of a normal race. As you can see there is quite a lot of information on it. But thankfully, it is all well spaced out so it is easy enough to read.
Starting from left to right, across the top we have the abbreviations of what each column represents.
Understanding The Form
'Form' is shorthand for where the horse finished in its last few races. You read it from right to left. So the last number is where it finished in its most recent race.
If a runner has form that reads: /5P9-5, that means in its most recent race it finished 5th.
The '-' means the end of last season and the beginning of this one. So last season, in its final race, this horse finished 9th.
The 'P' in the race before that means the horse pulled-up and didn't finish the race. And before that, he finished 5th.
If you see 0 (zero) this means the horse finished 10th or worse. Otherwise, the single numbers are the exact position of where the runner finished.
Form gives you a really good idea of how a horse is running over a longer period of time. The better the numbers, the better the horse has performed.
However, the form will not tell you the quality of the race the horse ran in. There is a big difference between being 2nd in a Grade 1 race like the Gold Cup, and being second in a Grade 3 hurdle run on a rainy Tuesday night at a small course.
Reading The Columns
Now that we know what the columns means, let's review the information in each.
Online you can generally sort the columns simply by clicking on their heading. The horses will be numbered from 1 all the way through to however many are running in the race.
In a handicapped race such as the Grand National 2024, the runner with number 1 is the highest-rated horse in the race. It will also carry the heaviest weight.
Each horse will then be numbered in descending order based on its rating and weight. In a non-handicapped race, they are listed in alphabetical order.
Moving across to age, this is very straightforward, it is how old the horse is. Some races suit horses of different ages, but it really is race dependent.
We've already covered weight and the OR works the same way. The higher the Offical Rating the better the horse. An OR is issued once a horse has run three times.
Other than the trainer or jockey's name, the only thing to look out for is an 'allowance'. Also known as a 'claim', if a jockey is an apprentice, conditional or amateur and is learning the job, they are given less weight on their horse.
They can claim different amounts depending on their experience.
- 7lb until they have won 20 races;
- 5lb until they have won 50 races;
- 3lb until they have won 95 races.
Conditional Jockey Claims:
- 7lb until they have won 20 races;
- 5lb until they have won 40 races;
- 3lb until they have won 75 races
The TS (top speed) of a horse is generally found in the Racing Post online cards. The ratings are calculated by comparing the time it took for a horse to finish a race.
This figure will then be compared to the racing post's standard time for that course and adjusted by a few factors such as distance, going, weight carried etc...
What Is A Horse Racing Form?
Answer: A horse racing form provides detailed information about horses running in a particular race. It offers past performance data for each horse, including details about its previous races, jockey, trainer, and more.
What Do The Numbers Next To A Horse's Name Mean?
Answer: The numbers next to a horse's name represent that horse's finishing positions in previous races. For example, if you see the numbers "3124" beside a horse's name, it means the horse came 3rd in its most recent race, 1st in the race before that, 2nd three races ago, and 4th four races ago. If you see a '0', it means the horse finished outside the top nine.
Why Is The Jockey And Trainer Information On The Form?
Answer: A successful jockey might have the skills to get the best out of a horse, while a top trainer may have a history of preparing horses to win. If a horse has a highly-rated jockey or trainer, or both, it could increase its chances of performing well.
How Do I Interpret The Going And Distance?
Answer: The "going" refers to the condition of the racetrack on the day of the race. It can range from 'Heavy' (very soft and muddy) to 'Firm' (hard). Some horses perform better on specific types of ground, so it's essential to see if a horse's previous victories were on similar ground to today's race.
The "distance" tells you how long the race is. Some horses are sprinters and prefer shorter distances, while others are stayers and excel in longer races.
What Do Letters Like 'F' or 'P' Mean?
Answer: Letters in the form represent specific events or outcomes in a horse's previous races:
F: The horse fell during the race.
U: The horse unseated its rider.
P: The horse was pulled up by the jockey, meaning it didn't finish the race.
R: The horse refused to run or jump a fence.
S: The horse slipped.
Knowing these symbols helps to understand if a horse had issues in previous races, which might affect its chances in upcoming races.
I hope this handy guide helps you to understand how to read horse racing form better! If you're new to the sport, it might take some time to get used to all the details, but with practice, you'll become adept at reading and interpreting the data.