The Grenfell Record
Sunday, 3 December 2023

Horse racing form guides explained: How to read a racecard

Horse racing form guides explained: How to read a racecard
Horse racing form guides explained: How to read a racecard

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Learn the horse racing card's basics, so you'll know what to look for when picking which horse to bet on.

If you are a novice to the world of horse race betting, you should invest some time in learning how to read a racecard.

A racecard is used to summarise all of the information accessible to a punter to place educated wagers on racing day bets scheduled during a single race meeting.

Without it, you may as well wager on the horse with the most likeable name or jockey silks.

Reading Form Guide

Reading the form may seem more complicated than it is; yet, the basics are relatively straightforward.

Learn everything you need to know to prepare yourself for the upcoming Frank Packer Plate races.

Stall Number And Cloth

Several numbers next to the horse's name are likely to be the first thing you notice on a race card.

A horse's saddlecloth is the largest and boldest of them all.

The stall number is the other number mentioned, which might be helpful if a racetrack has a "draw bias," horses drawn in specific stalls have a better start than horses drawn in other stalls.


You will also notice a "Silk" column.

This designates the silk colours and patterns worn by the horse's jockey.

It is another way to set your horse out from the rest of the pack.

These silks are usually held by the horse's trainer and the stables he represents.

What Do the Numbers on a Horse Racing Form Mean?

The following set of numerals, such as 21-1161 to the left of the horse's name, describes its most recent shape.

Example - 21-1161

The number 21 refers to the horse's finish in the previous races.

The most recent race is always on the right side of the screen (the horse won its last race of last year).

The numbers 1-9 represent the horse's finishing place in the event, while 0 denotes the horse finished outside the top 9.

Racing seasons are denoted by the symbol (dash). The numbers preceding the - refer to the last season.

1161 - the horse's current race finish (the most recent race is on the right - the horse won its most recent race).

A forward slash sign (/) appears next to the name, indicating a lengthier gap if the horse missed an entire racing season.

Other letters to look for in the racing form are P and PU, which indicate that the jockey pulled the horse and did not finish the race.

The letter F denotes that the horse fell.

The letter R represents the horse refusing to be ridden.

BD - denotes that another runner knocked the horse down.

The letter U or UR indicates that the horse unseated its rider.

Abbreviations Explained

When using a horse racing form guide, you should be aware of the typical abbreviations used to represent different aspects of a horse's recent form figures.

1-9= completed the race ranging from first to ninth (finishing position)

s = denotes a three-month hiatus.

0 = completed the race farther behind than ninth (some form guides use x)

l = a rider who was lost during the race (some form guides use x)

The letters are also used to signify track and distance performance.

b = last start's beaten favourite

t = won at today's racing track

d = won at today's race run

c = today's race was won on both the course and distance.

w = won in rainy weather

h = racing on home track

n = won in a night meeting

Trainers and Jockeys

The rider and trainer for each horse are also included.

The jockey is usually mentioned first, followed by the trainer.

This is beneficial if particular riders or trainers have a reputation for winning at a certain racecourse or distance.


Weight may be used to level the playing field in handicap contests by raising the weight carried by the highest-rated horses and reducing it for the lowest-rated horses.

This column is crucial for determining if your chosen horse has top weight or not since only the best horses can generally defy handicappers' top weighing.

Official Score

The official rating is the rating given to each horse by handicappers, and it is usually the last column on a race card.

Positive outcomes lead to higher ratings, while negative results lead to lower ratings.

Ratings are a strong reflection of a horse's prior competence.


Reading racecards will serve as a starting point to make the most of the information available to you to transform bets into winners.

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