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Horse Racing Betting: How to Use Racecard to Determine Winner

[ 25.11.17 ]

Horse Racing Betting: How to Use Racecard to Determine Winner

Let’s kick off with some major rules applied in horse racing betting. To make successful wagers, you must know these guidelines like the back of your hand.

Horse racing betting relies on 6 fundamental rules that include two DON’Ts, two NEVERs, and two ALWAYS.

1. Don’t bet in every single race without taking a break. It’s a sure way to waste away your entire bankroll without properly enjoying the betting.

2. Don’t try to recoup your losses by gradually increasing your bets. The result may turn out to be just the opposite, with you depleting your bankroll very quickly.

3. Never bet more than you can afford to lose.

4. Never wager on a horse only because you’ve already bet on it and lost.

5. Always look for good odds. When calculating the odds, bookmakers tend to pay more attention to the betting volumes rather than the physical condition and recent performance of runners. Plus, bookmaker analysts are only human and make mistakes, like all of us. You should rely on your own analysis and hunt for the best deals.

6. Always remember that the racecard is your best helper. It provides all the information you need to make the right choice and place a winning bet.

To a novice’s eye, a racecard looks rather confusing. How do you read it? In this article, I’ll take you through the entire process of analyzing the information contained in the racecard. Let’s take this William Hill racecard as an example:

The card shows a Class 3 Novices Handicap Chase at the Chepstow Racecourse

The card shows a Class 3 Novices Handicap Chase at the Chepstow Racecourse. A handicap race means that each contestant is assigned a certain weight in order to equalize the playing field for all horses.

The horse listed under No. 1 is allocated the biggest top weight. Weights are decreasing towards the bottom of the table. The good news is that the panel of handicappers have done a major part of the work by ranking the runners by their performance and talent. From the racecard, you can see that the horse ranked 1 has the biggest winning chances, hence the biggest weight.

The weight allocated to each horse is indicated in stones and pounds. For example, numbers “11-8” mean that the runner will carry 11 stone and 8 lbs (73.5 kg). Here is some good piece of advice: don’t waste your time converting pounds into kilograms. It won’t make the picture more clear for you. The one thing you need to understand is that the weight is decreasing towards the bottom of the racecard. Plus, you need to consider the weight difference between certain contestants. For example, there is a whopping six-pound difference between Horse No. 1 and Horse No. 5. According to Racing Post, Horse No. 5 is the favorite of the race, with its Racing Post Rating at 137.

Racing Post is Great Britain’s leading racing daily newspaper which provides its own Racing Post Ratings. RPRs are determined by a number of factors, including number of wins, level of previous races, weight carried, etc. The better the horse, the higher its RPR.

Now back to our racecard. We have a tough case here. According to the panel of handicappers, the horse named Dresden has the highest winning chances, while the Racing Post experts distinguish the horse under the beautiful name of Going Concern.

Now let’s take a look at the odds. The odds come in two major types, early prices and starting prices. Early prices are usually published 24 hours before the race or early on the day of the race. In the racecard above, early prices are displayed in the “Price” column.

As the race is drawing closer, the odds are changing. Once the race starts, the odds are fixed. These are starting prices. Starting prices are determined in a centralized way and do not vary across bookmakers.

The starting price may be higher or lower than the early price. This is the question of luck. With this said, I recommend choosing bookmakers that offer Best Odds Guaranteed (BOG) on horse racing. If the starting price is higher than the odds you bet at, the bookmaker will pay you at the bigger price.

Now let’s take a look at the runners set to compete in the race. The number in the parentheses under the jockey’s uniform shows how many days have passed since the horse’s last race. The letter D (Distance) means that the horse has already won that distance in the course of its career. The letter C (Course) means that the horse has already finished first at that racecourse.

The parameter “Form” shows how the horse has performed in the previous races. The numbers are read from left to right. The last number on the right describes the newest race. Let’s take Dresden as an example. Its Form parameter reads: 6-5F62. The hyphen separates two racing seasons. Letter “F” means that the horse has fallen when jumping over the hurdle. Now we have enough information to decode the parameter: during the current hurdle season, Dresden has competed 4 times, had 1 fall, and finished 2nd in its latest race.

Other abbreviations used in the Form parameter include letters “P” and “U”. Letter “P” means that the horse has been pulled out of the race. Letter “U” means that the horse has unseated its rider. Slash symbol “/” means that the horse has taken a lengthy time out from racing, i.e. one year or more.

The names of the rider (first) and the trainer (second) are displayed under the horse’s name. Honestly speaking, this kind of information is by no means essential. Nonetheless, you can make a more accurate forecast if you know how jockeys and trainers rank. I’ll make a separate article on where to find jockey and coach ratings.

Now it’s time to address the crucial question that must be going through your mind: which horse to bet on? The odds are pretty much the same, which means that, according to the bookmaker, all the horses have roughly equal chances to come in first. I’d recommend wagering on two runners. If either bet wins, the winnings will cover the losses from the other wager and still leave you with a profit.

The most obvious choice is hands down Going Concern, the horse with the highest RP rating. Why not take advantage of the hint from the British betting experts, after all? Moreover, the horse has already won at this course and distance. Plus, it will carry considerably less weight than the favorite, which is a good thing.

The other contestant I’d wager on is Dresden. First, this horse is the favorite of the race. Second, its performance is improving: in its latest competition Dresden came in 2nd, setting a personal season’s best. You may be wondering why I’m ignoring Ascendant. The matter is, I avoid betting on horses that has won their latest race. It’s highly probable that by this time the horse is already past its peak for the season and its performance will be heading south. In this particular case, I prefer to play it safe.

The card shows a Class 3 Novices Handicap Chase at the Chepstow Racecourse

Now let’s see the outcome! Going Concern finished first, with Dresden coming in second. Wow, just as I predicted!

Of course, things do not always go as smoothly as this time. Even the analysts at Racing Post may get it wrong from time to time! With this said, you should consider the whole mix of factors, such as ratings, weights, previous wins, season performance, and many more. The best thing is that you don’t need to gather valuable snippets of information all over the web. All the data you need is readily available in the racecard.

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