Horse Racing Form Guide | LeoVegas

Horse Racing Form Guide

Learning how to read horse racing form is one of the core components to becoming a successful punter.

Bettors spend hours pouring over racecards seeking value on race day, yet ultimately what a lot of them decide to do is back the horse on form.

That’s not a surprise. After all, there’s nothing that gives bettors and indeed bookmakers more confidence than knowing an in-form horse is arriving at the racecourse.

Yet there are some simple mistakes some punters make when it comes to racing form. Indeed, get it wrong and your bets could really be in a mess!

Racecards don’t always explain what form is and how to read racing form, which is why we’re here to help. In this horse racing form guide you’ll discover everything you need to know about it, why it’s important and how it can influence your bets.

What does form mean in horse racing?

Form in horse racing means the past results of a particular horse. It is an indicator of how well that horse is faring in races, and can therefore be used as a metric to estimating whether or not it could win a race.

Form is a big statistical metric in all sports. But whereas in football or rugby it’s about winning, drawing or losing, in horse racing form is about finishing positions. Of course, if you’re seeking a winner then you’ll be on the lookout for plenty of 1s and 2s.

How to read horse racing form

Understanding horse racing form is fairly straightforward once you know how it works. Horse racing form is a list of numbers that signify which positions the horse has finished in its previous races. Form reads left to right, with the oldest race on the left and most recent on the right.

Here’s an example from the LeoVegas sportsbook. As you can see, Desaray Girl has a racing form of 55P6U1 from her last six outings. The numbers signify the finishing position of races Desaray Girl has completed. Letters are also used in the horse form guide to signify outcomes, as follows:

  • P – The horse was pulled up by the jockey and didn’t complete the race
  • R – The horse refused to race
  • BD – The horse was brought down by another horse
  • U – The horse unseated its jockey
  • F – The horse fell during the race
  • Dash symbol – Indicates a new season. Numbers before the ‘–’ are results in the previous season

In this instance, Desaray Girl has pulled up and unseated her jockey in two of her six races this season. That doesn’t bode too well. However, she won her last race, so perhaps her form is about to pick up.

Why is racing form important?

When examining a horse racing form guide UK punters rely on the numbers to make a quick, calculated judgement of success. This, coupled with the horse racing odds, could be enough for a bettor to place a wager.

Form is also a great indicator when deciding not to bet on a horse. Take Desaray Girl as our example again. Here, the seven-year-old has struggled in her previous races and even upended her jockey at one stage. She then went on to win her last race. Why was this? It might be that she was dropped into a lower standard of race, and therefore had a greater chance of winning. A punter would likely seek to understand this outcome before taking a risky bet.

Form is also important when looking at horse racing from a purely sporting perspective, rather than racing. Often jockeys and horses forge formidable partnerships that lead to glittering success. This is certainly the case with US thoroughbred racing, where jockeys can sometimes guide a horse through its entire career. If a jockey/horse partnership is producing top form, then wagering on them again isn’t a bad idea at all.

How racing form can help you place a bet

As we mentioned earlier, horse racing form isn’t the sole metric punters use when horse race betting. Other factors to take into consideration are:

  • Weight the horse is carrying
  • The ‘going’ of the track (is it soft, heavy, or somewhere inbetween?)
  • The relationship between horse and jockey
  • The jockey’s experience level
  • Previous results at this racecourse or track
  • The standard of the opposition

Another thing form doesn’t indicate is the number of horses your potential runner raced against in previous meetings. Say a horse has form of 43443 – that doesn’t look great. But if you heard these results came in races featuring 16 horses each time, then it’s actually pretty good form!

All these metrics combine so that bookmakers can set what they believe is a fair price on each horse in a race. Of course, if punters begin to bet heavily on one candidate, their odds will shrink and the prices of other horses will rise.

Form and new punters

Form is particularly useful for new punters because it helps teach you what to look out for when choosing a horse. It is the first step to doing further research into the runners and riders, of reading the racecard more thoroughly and making smarter decisions.

It’s also a great metric if you are in a hurry and want to place a swift bet on an upcoming race. The form is what most people gravitate towards first, as well as the odds. One quick risk assessment is usually enough for most punters to back their chosen runner.

What’s more, racing form doesn’t have to be about your horse. Checking out the form of other runners in the race will give you an indication of their chances of winning. If every other horse is coming into a meet with bad past results, then maybe your pick will be a winner!

FAQs – Horse racing form explained

What is form in horse racing?

Form in horse racing reveals the latest finishing results of a horse. Each number indicates where said horse finished in a race, with its most recent result on the right.

What do form numbers mean in horse racing?

Form numbers in horse racing show how many races a horse has run and where it finished in these races. Form guides read left to right, with a horse’s most recent result on the right. If a horse has form of 13426 then it won its first race, and was sixth in its last outing.

Does form affect my bet in horse racing?

Yes. Bookmakers will adapt their odds to make sure that the price of each horse accurately reflects their chances of winning a race – and form is central to their metric.