Picking a winner

Picking a winner

It can be a difficult task picking a winner at the races. Often racegoers will resort to making a selection based simply on the name of a horse or the colour of a jockey’s silks. However, there are many more credible strategies available, helping punters make more informed decisions on which horse to bet on.

The Paddock

You can learn a lot about a horse’s wellbeing based on seeing them in the flesh. At the racecourse a runner’s physical wellbeing, fitness and temperament can be assessed by watching them parading in the paddock before a race. If a horse is sweating or appears agitated, this is generally a bad sign. A horse who handles the preliminaries well, in a calm and composed manner, will give itself a better chance of performing to the best of its ability and a punter who is wise to that will have a greater chance of picking a winner.

Racecard Form

The form numbers on a racecard represent the finishing position of a horse in its most recent races. Numbers alone can be misleading, though, as a horse could have a ‘3’ in its form, but that third-placed finish could have come in a three-runner race. It is important to consider the context of the form.

Racecard Features

Letters on the racecard are another important feature to understand when looking at a horse’s profile. The letters ‘C’ and ‘D’ represent course and distance respectively, which help identify horses who have won at that course before or over that distance. ‘CD’ joined together denotes a horse who has won over both the course and distance of the race under consideration.

Other letters on racecard form signify non-completions of horses in races. ‘F’ and ‘U’ represent a horse who has fallen and a rider who has been unseated respectively. ‘S’ means a horse has slipped up and ‘P’ means a horse has been pulled up by its rider.

All numbers and letters on a horse’s recent form figures are worthy of consideration when trying to pick a winner.

The Betting

Each horse in a race has a price which determines its theoretical chance of winning, but these prices (odds) can fluctuate. The price of a horse can either shorten or lengthen (drift) in the betting and these movements are based on the weight of money placed by the betting public. A shortening price suggests the support for a horse is increasing, whereas a drifting price suggests support for a horse is weakening.

Who to listen to

The Racing Post employs a host of expert race-readers who are paid to give winning tips and find value bets in races, and analysis from the Racing Post team can be found on various platforms. Simply grab a copy of the newspaper, download the app or visit the website to find the latest betting advice. The Racing Post also releases weekly podcasts such as the ‘Weekend Tipping Postcast’, in which our experts preview races and provide tips and further insight into the best betting opportunities.