How To Read Form In Horse Racing
16 Nov 2022
Updated: 24 Feb 2023
If you're a horse racing fan, there's a good chance you have at least some familiarity with form. Whether you know the basics, or are more interested in learning about bet odds, form is an essential part of any horse race enthusiast's toolbox. It can be tough to put together a complete picture of how form affects race outcomes.
Fortunately, form reading is a relatively easy task once you know where to look. This article will look at how to read horse racing forms and offer tips on improving your skills.
How To Read Form In Horse Racing
To read racing form, you’ll need to be familiar with the various blocks of text containing information about races, horses, and riders. Each text block has its own instructions that help you read and understand the race form.
You may see the form represented via letters and numbers, and to work out the form, you'll need to know what each letter and number means. The below outlines the code used to ascertain a horse's previous performance:
|1-9||The position the horse finished in a race|
|0||Finished outside the top 9|
|P||The horse pulled up (reined in as the horse may be too tired/injured, or the horse may simply stop running)|
|F||The horse fell|
|S||The horse slipped up|
|R||There was a refusal to enter the paddock or run the race itself|
|B||The horse was brought down|
|U||The horse unseated the jockey|
|-||Separates the years, i.e. left of this is from the previous year, e.g. Dec 01 - Jan 02|
|/||Separates racing seasons, i.e. left of this is from the season before last|
|BD||Indicates another runner brought the horse down|
|BF||Stands for the beaten favourite and indicates a horse was favourite for a race but did not win|
|CD||Indicates a horse has won over course and distance|
The position the horse finished in a race
Finished outside the top 9
The horse pulled up (reined in as the horse may be too tired/injured, or the horse may simply stop running)
The horse fell
The horse slipped up
There was a refusal to enter the paddock or run the race itself
The horse was brought down
The horse unseated the jockey
Separates the years, i.e. left of this is from the previous year, e.g. Dec 01 - Jan 02
Separates racing seasons, i.e. left of this is from the season before last
Indicates another runner brought the horse down
Stands for the beaten favourite and indicates a horse was favourite for a race but did not win
Indicates a horse has won over course and distance
So, in this example;
The horse gained second place, took a break from racing, then earned fourth place, got another second, and fell in the next race, and its latest result was a win.
Once you understand how racing forms work, it's helpful to practice reading them regularly to better understand what is happening during races and when certain sections of the form are relevant.
If you're trying to read racing form accurately, it's important to develop good reading fluency. This means being able to understand and quickly process information in racing forms. To do this, practice reading race forms regularly and make sure you use a good race form calculator to help you get an accurate understanding of the overall race.
Horse Race Distances
Another time you may come across specific terminology like the above is when looking at the distances of a horse race (which is a factor in horse selection).
You must be familiar with the various units of measurement and the required conversions in order to comprehend horse racing distances completely. The table below lists the race distances covered in all horse races held in the UK and Ireland. The adjacent columns list the number of furlongs and yards that make up each distance.
Horse races on the flat start at five furlongs for two-year-olds and sprinters up and go up to two and three-quarter miles for stayers. Horse races are measured in both miles and furlongs (1 mile (m) = 7.99 furlongs (f). Example race distances:
Finally, it can be helpful to use a race form calculator to get an idea of what is happening in each race. By using this tool, you'll be able to better understand the process and make better decisions regarding your bets.
Horse Racing is a fun and excitement-filled sport. By understanding racing form you can read race cards accurately and effectively.
Check out some other articles below based on some of the common questions we receive as well as our betting calculators, which help you make the most profitable bets and increase your betting earnings.