How to read the racecard
The racecard is the most important source of information; whether you are a horse racing newbie or an expert. The racecard provides all the key details you need to know about each horse. Below are all the key components of a racecard and their importance:
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 Frankie Dettori 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.
Draw (Flat only) – Knowing what position in the stalls the horse is in is a useful tool. The layout of some tracks favours different positions in the stalls – a key example would be the Kentucky Derby, where the higher the draw number the further you are from the rail. Stall 20 of 20 is commonly known as ‘the parking lot’ and it is often much harder to win that race from a high-numbered draw.
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 they were favourite for 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.
Number next to name – 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 out for a while it could be lacking race fitness.
Comment – The comment under each horse, or beside a horse’s name, give a little reasoning behind the horse’s form and its chances. It is important to read this before betting.
Betting forecast – The betting forecast is not the odds of the horse but a prediction of what they will be. This tool is a guide to how the betting market is expected to shape up.