Horse Racing Form – How To Read It

Reading Horse Racing form is the first thing you have to master if you’re going to start picking more winners. It’s not the only thing you have to understand, of course. You should know what to look for in the paddock, and you should know about the trainers, but the form is the background to everything else, and your horse racing ratings are a great place to start.

So here’s our guide on how to read horse racing form, what to look out for, and hopefully it will help you master your command of the ratings.


Try one of our interactive racecards

We publish the form in many ways – excel, PDF – but our interactive racecards give you the full picture on one page. Try one out…

Previous races

A win for one horse is better than a win for another horse.

Why so? Well let’s turn to the world of athletics. Bob is a new British athlete and he’s just beaten Usain Bolt in a sprint. Dave is a new British athlete, and he’s just won three races in a row. However, Dave hasn’t raced against anyone like Usain Bolt before.

Bob’s one win is better than Dave’s three wins, because he’s beaten Usain Bolt.

Therefore, a rudimentary reading of the form is not quite enough.

However, that does not mean that Dave cannot beat Usain Bolt – and it doesn’t mean than a horse who hasn’t had his or her form ‘franked’ by a subsequent winner cannot win this race.

Reading horse racing form is all about understanding the probabilities. You have just tipped the race in Bob’s favour because his win is all the more valuable. But you haven’t discarded Dave’s abilities.

And that’s important to understand, and is often a reason we turn to ratings because horse ratings are all about putting a figure to the form.

Previous race ratings

Our ratings, for instance, will increase the value of the race in which Bob beat Usain Bolt. They will also take into account the conditions, the difficulty of the rest of the opposition and their subsequent form, the class of the race as well as the prize pot…

So much goes into the calculation here, that we can feel confident of our last race rating.

Sometimes, if you’re using the spreadsheet, you can simply exclude those who have a rating of less than 100 in their last race. However, this will often give you horses from the same race, and you should remember that a rating of 70 can be considered good, especially if everyone else had a last race rating of 30.

But remember…

We can’t always account for mishaps. A horse that was blocked on the run-in, or was knocked out of the race by a horse that had unseated its jockey will probably have a low last race score.

So – it’s wise to look along the line.

We have colour-coded our charts (in the spreadsheet) so that you can see – at a glance – how that horse performed in relation to the other horses. The more green, the better the performance. You can often forgive one or two bad races across the span, but if you see consecutive poor scores, the horse is out of form.

The Today Rating

This one’s really important – and on its own, it will give you around a 24% strike rate of winners to races. That’s pretty good – so look at it in combination with other factors to get an understanding of how the horse might fare.

The Today rating looks at the horse’s record in a number of factors – the ground, for instance, is hugely important. A good strike rate on good to soft (if that’s today’s going) will be a factor, so we’ll inflate the ‘Today’ score on that basis.

A good jockey will help, too – and a trainer in form will also be a boost to the Today score. Wins at distance will also help – and we also take into account places at distance.

The Today score takes into account so many different variables, it gives you a serious advantage when looking at horse racing form. The form will tell you that the horse is doing well, for instance, in the last three races – but the Today rating, being low, will tell you that today might not be his or her day.

However, poor form can be turned on its head by a high Today rating because he’s back at a track he loves, on going he loves, and the trainer is bang in form.

Try out our ratings

Read the form for yourself

We help make the form easy to read. Every horse is rated for every race, and we also give you speed, trainer, jockey, stallion and suitability ratings.

And to help you frank that form – we add in 100 different racing systems, statistics, and we’re open about our record at each track, with our strike rates at each racecourse for each rating.

Try it out for free…