How to read the racecard

The Racing Post's guide to reading the racecard and understanding the form.

The racecard is the most important tool in a punter’s arsenal, and therefore being able to understand how to use one is extremely important. The racecard includes various important elements about the race and the runners and often used to help punters decide which horse to bet on. We have broken down each of the elements on a racecard to help you better understand what everything means:


Saddle Cloth Number – The horse’s individual race number. This will be prominently displayed on the horse’s saddle.


Name – The name of the horse. The horse’s name will often be a creative combination of its parents’ names, or something completely different.


Age – The age of the horse isn’t always a way of finding a winner, but some punters look closely at the age of former winners to try to predict a trend.


Weight – The weight each horse has to carry is displayed in stone and pounds (eg 9-9). The weight is decided by the conditions of the race, whether the horse is in a handicap or must carry a penalty.


Trainer – The trainer of the horse can often be a useful guide, with some trainers having better records with younger horses, horses at different tracks and horses from a certain family. Horses from powerful trainers such as Willie Mullins or John Gosden are likely to be well supported.


Jockey – A star jockey like Brian Hughes will always attract attention on the racecard and sometimes it pays to follow a top jockey who has travelled a long way to a meeting just for one ride. Sometimes next to a jockey’s name there is a number in brackets and this is known as a claim, which is a weight allowance given to an inexperienced jockey that is used to reduce their horse’s allotted weight. New jockeys receive a 7lb claim, but as they register more winners it drops to 5lb and then 3lb before they lose that benefit altogether.


Form figures – The form figures represent a horse’s finishing position in previous races. This can indicate whether a horse is in-form and can be used as a guide to help pick the winner.


Breeding – For many, the breeding is an integral part of the racecard as you can, in theory, work out how good a horse might be by looking at the form of its parents and siblings.


C – C stands for Course and will appear next to the name of horses who have achieved a win at the track. Some tracks are quite unusual and knowing your horse is able to handle the track is a positive sign.


D – D stands for Distance and will appear if a horse has won over the distance of the race under consideration. This is important, because if a horse has won over the trip before it could do so again and may have an advantage over opponents who lack that proven ability.


CD – CD denotes a course-and-distance win, meaning the horse has won over both course and distance at the same time, sometimes if they have won the race in previous years.


BF – stands for Beaten Favourite. If the horse was the favourite in their last race, the expectation might have been for them to win and it could be a sign that they have the ability to do better this time.


Days since last run – the number next to a horse’s name shows how many days have passed since the horse’s last run. If the horse has been off the track for a while it could be lacking race fitness.


Comment – The comment under each horse, or beside a horse’s name, is an expert view on the horse’s form and its chances. Our experts are the best in the business, so it can always help to read their thoughts before placing your bets.


Betting forecast – The betting forecast is a prediction of the horse’s odds before the bookmakers have had the chance to price up the race. This tool is a guide to how the betting market is expected to shape up.


How To Read The Racing Form


Another thing to consider when betting on a horse is their previous form. By looking at their previous form you can learn what a horse is able to do at their best and at their worst too. Recent form can tell us plenty of information about a horse’s ability, but if their recent form appears inconclusive, looking further back at what they’ve done can unearth more information and help you decide whether you should back them or not.

The form figures of a horse are a record of its finishing positions in previous races, in chronological order. Looking at the form of a horse can help sort the winners from the losers, therefore it’s one of the most important features of the racecard. The form is presented as a string of numbers, symbols and abbreviations, all of which denote the outcome of that particular horse’s previous runs. For example, the form could look something like this 2P511/41U1/52-P61. But what does this mean?

Below is a breakdown of the numbers and abbreviations you may find on the racecard form. Remember, form reads from left to right, with the most recent race result on the right.


The numbers 1-9 indicate the position the horse finished in the race

The number 0 indicates that the horse finished outside the first 9

The symbol separates racing seasons. Numbers before the – refer to the previous season

The symbol / indicates a longer gap, for example if the horse missed an entire racing season


The following abbreviations often apply to jump racing:


F indicates the horse fell

R indicates the horse refused to race

BD indicates the horse was brought down by another runner

U or UR indicates that the horse unseated its jockey

P or PU indicates that the horse was pulled up by the jockey and did not complete the race