If you’re completely new to horse racing one of the best, and generally free to use, tools that you can lay your hands on is a race card. This are provided with every race and contain a wealth of knowledge that you need to provide more informed predictions of how the race might pan out.
The first thing that we want to state is that online racecards look a little different to that you might find in your local newspaper. The concepts are pretty much the same though, but for the sake of this article we will guide you through both, just in case you get confused.
When you first look at either card it might be a little overwhelming. There is a lot to take in and if you don’t know what you’re looking at, it can get confusing. But, this is exactly why we have set this guide up.
See also: How to read a greyhound racecard
Above you will see a typical example of a racecard. Section 1 is basically just an overview of where the race is and the time of the race. As you can see, this specific race is the 4:10 at Kempton run on the 9th April 2018.
This section also includes information on the type of race:
2m4½f (2m4f110y) Matchbook Casino Handicap Chase (Class 4) (5yo+ 0-120)
From this we can determine that the length of the race is 2m 4 ½ furlongs and is called the Matchbook Casino Handicap Chase. It’s Class 4 race and is open to 5 year old horses and older. Depending on the race and the type of race, this is where you are going to get the best overview of what’s going on where it’s taking place. It won’t offer info such as form, but it does allow a quick look at the race.
Section 2 is where you get a little more information on how much the winner of the race will get. This is the amount the winner owner will get, not the amount a winning bettor will get, so it’s important to bear this in mind. You also see the number of runners, the going (which is the firmness of the ground), number of entrants for this specific race and the each way betting terms. If you aren’t familiar with each way betting, we’ve written a whole article on it to help you out.
Section 3 is probably going to be the most important section is any race card as this allows you to see how the horse has performed previously.
The first part is the number of the horse, highlighted as horse number in the above example. The horse number can be important for spotting you horse as the race is running.
Next to this number there may be a smaller number in brackets which tells you which stall a horse is drawn in. This is present on flat races and it will signify the draw for that horse. In jumps, horses are let go from a moving start, but as flats are much shorter in length generally, the draw does become important.
Hint: A good tip when betting on flat racing is being able to research which side of the track is generally the fastest and then targeting horses that are drawn over to that side of the track.
Below the horses number is a series of numbers, this the form. In this example it’s highlighted as 281-P6. The form works from right to left, with the furthest right being the most recent result for the horse. The numbers represent the finishing position of the horse in that race. As you can see from the above, the horse in question finished 6th in its last race.
This also includes other letters and symbols which have significance in these form guides as well. Below is a brief overview of what these mean:
|F||Fell, the horse has fallen|
|B||Brought down by another horse|
|R||Refused to race refused a jump|
|P||Horse pulled up by the jockey and didn’t finish|
|–||Separates races in different seasons|
|/||A gap of two or more seasons|
|0||The horse finished but outside of the top 9 places|
As we move from left to right in the race card we get to the jockey’s colours known as their silks. This example shows they will be wearing yellow and green boxes. It’s pretty self-explanatory here but allows you to easily track your horse when they start racing.
Next to that includes the name of the horse. Below this we see a number of boxes and symbols. This section will only apply to certain race cards and betting sites. For this the symbols such as the lightbulb and the square with lines across simply signify that you can click them to see a little more info on the horse, generally a tip from someone working for that company. For the most part, you don’t need to use this, although they can come in handy when assessing how well that horse might run.
A number of letters may also be apparent. In our example we can see the letters ‘D’ and ‘BF’. These generally play reference to past races the horse has run that may include the likes recent form or form on that particular course. Below is a breakdown of these letters:
|C||Course, the horse has previously won at that course|
|D||Distance, the horse has previously won at that distance|
|CD||Course and distance, the horse has won at that course and distance|
|BF||Beaten favourite, the horse was beaten as the race favourite last time out|
Next up we see a small number, in our example this is the number ‘121’. All this means is the number of days it’s been since the horse last ran. There may be times where another number follows this number that is represented in brackets. This just means that the horse has ran prior to this date but in another discipline, say over flats for a jump race or jumps for a flat race. At the lower levels of horse racing and especially for younger horses, it’s not uncommon for them to run over both flats and jumps, hence the inclusion of this.
As we move along, we see the age of the horse, in this case 7 and the weight, represented as 11-10. This weight is the combined weight that the horse will carry, so basically the weight of the jockey and its saddle in stones and pounds. It might be that more weight is added depending on the horses official rating, which is represented just under the weight. For this example, it’s 117. Generally, the higher the rated horses will be carrying more weight for these types of races.
Whilst there aren’t any symbols on our example next to the weight, it possible to see things such as ‘b’, ‘v’ and ‘e/s’ which is representative of any equipment that might be used. The full list is as follows:
|Letters||Equipment Worn by the Horse|
|b||Blinkers, over the horse eyes to restrict peripheral vision|
|v||Visors, over the horses eyes|
|h||Hood, a mask is worn over the horses head|
|t||Tongue strap, keeps the horses bit in place|
|p||Check pieces, padding used on the bridle to help concentration, usually sheepskin|
The following section signifies the name of the jockey and the name of the trainer, so again, pretty self-explanatory.
The next section, signified as TS and RPR are basically the site that you are using’s rating for that horse and trainer. Some cards will include this, some won’t. You can often click on these ratings though to get more info, which is pretty good for forming better predictions.
Finally, you have the odds, this time highlighted by the green box. Below that you will see other odds, which signify how the price has changed in the lead up to the race. It’s a good indication to see where the money is heading and if the price has drifted or shortened at all.
So, there you have it. That pretty much sums up how to read an online race card. One of the beauties of online cards is that many of them are interactive these days, offering you much more info than your standard cards.
You’re often able to click on aspects such as the jockey, horse name, trainer or rating and find out a lot more information about previous performances. A lot of cards also include a short synopsis of the race, which gives you an idea of how it might pan out. You can even find videos of previous races that the horses were involved in from the sites archive, although these are generally reserved for the higher profile races.
As we mentioned earlier, the race card that you see online compared to the one that you see in your newspaper can be quite different. The information that you see is actually very much the same, but the layout is different, and it can throw people off.
Above is a typical example of what you will see in a newspaper for most races. The information is all written above in the article, but we will quickly runt through it for you, just in case you aren’t sure.
The top section signifies that Newmarket is the venue for this race and that the race starts at 2:15. That same top section also includes the name of the race, the class, the race distance, the prize money that’s on offer (for the owner, not the punter) and then the channel that it’s shown on, in this case, it’s Channel 4 (CH4).
We will run left to right on the top line for this next section, so you know what’s going on.
The first number, 1, is the number for the horse and the second number, (4) is the draw for this horse. National Hunt chases, hurdles and flat races won’t have a draw, so this number might not be apparent on all race cards.
Next up, we have the form, this is signified here as 390541. It works from right to left, with the furthest right being that of the last result for that horse. For more information on the numbers, letters and symbols that you see on the form section, we would reference you to the section above as the same rules apply.
Moving along you have:
- The name of the horse: Full Day
- Days since it last run: 7
- The trainer: B Ellison
- the age of the horse: 5
- The weight it’s carrying: 9stone 6lbs
- The Jockey: S Levey
- The rating: 82
The bottom section gives you a quick overview to the betting at the time of printing. This will likely have changed as the race gets nearer and more money comes in, but gives you an idea of the difference in price and a good reference point to see how the prices compare to the guides predictions.