For some people, choosing a horse to bet on can be as simple as picking a name or number, following a certain jockey or just backing the favourite. If you want to increase your odds of finding a winner at the races, understanding the form guide can help.
Here is a beginner’s guide of things to consider when reading horse racing form, based on the Australian daily racing form guide available from Sportsbet.com.au…
1. Record at the track and distance.
Most horses have an ideal winning range that suits their style of racing, either sprint distances (1000m – 1200m), middle distance (1400m – 1800m) or staying distances (2000m+).
Also, some horses handle certain tracks better than others. Look for a horse with a good strike rate at the course and distance; they could be ready to perform well again.
2. Fitness. You will see statistics for 1st Up, 2nd Up & 3rd Up. When a horse resumes after being spelled (rested) from racing for 90 days or more they are considered to be 1st Up. (A break of a few weeks is called a "Freshen-Up"). Some horses go well first up, others take a run or two to hit their peak, it often depends on if they are racing at their ideal distance and the methods of the trainer. If a horse is having at least its third or fourth run in a campaign, it’s reasonable to expect it to be fit enough to show something if it’s going to.
3. Track Conditions.
In Australia, there is a 10 point rating system for track conditions with 1 being the firmest track and 10 being the softest. Ideal conditions are considered to be a rating of between 3 (Good) and 5 (Dead) as it will be suitable for most runners, although some horses will excel on very wet (Heavy) ground. Take note of the track conditions and the weather report has it can have a big impact on the pattern of racing. More information on track conditions and track bias in Melbourne and Sydney can be found at www.melbournetrackreport.com the rail is moved out, horses are forced to race on fresher ground and avoid the areas inside the course which usually sees the most traffic.
At most courses, when the rail is moved out it makes it harder for horses who like to race back in the field to make up ground in the home straight. If this is the case, see if the horse usually likes to race near the lead or swoop late.
5. Recent Form.
Has the horse shown anything in recent starts to suggest they are working up to a win? If the last start was terrible, was there a good excuse? Just remember than not all last start winners will win again, the more wins they have strung together the more vulnerable they become next time - particularly if they are running in handicaps where they will be penalised with additional weight.
6. Ignore the odds until you’re ready to bet.
The only time to consider the odds is after you’ve read the form and you’re ready to place your bets. Just because a horse is favourite does not mean it’s entitled to win, that’s only the opinion of form analysts and the punters. Back your own judgement, not someone else’s.
Like more than one runner? Consider an exotic bet such as the quinella (first two horses in any order) box trifecta (first three horses in any order) or box first four (first four horses in any order).
Win, Place and exotics betting on Australian and international racing available every day 24/7 at Sportsbet.com.au.
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