There are two ways to bet on horse racing. One involves lucky numbers, favourite colours in the silks, or whimsical associations with horse names. In other words, it relies on blind luck. Serious punters, on the other hand, study the comprehensive form before placing a bet on a race.
This is not to be confused with a racing form, although the two terms are intricately linked. A racing form or race card gives recent details about a horse’s career history, while comprehensive form brings in more context.
It involves knowing the current condition of all the horses, how they have run with certain jockeys before, and any other contextual information that could affect a horse’s performance in the upcoming race.
Reading a Race Card
Studying the comprehensive form does require studying the racing form, however, so the first step is to learn how to read a race card. This includes basic information like the number of the race, the horse’s name, race number and silk design, plus a line of five or six numbers and letters that sum up the horse’s performance over its last five or six races.
Race cards at the track or in betting shops are physical cards. This limits the amount of information they can carry compared to online versions. However, even physical cards include information like the name of jockey and trainer, the weight being carried in handicapped races, the horse’s prior wins at this course or distance, its gate draw for the race and the tote odds.
Sometimes called the recent form, this information is all important when weighing up one horse’s odds against another. It is where you should start when you are first honing your betting skills.
Evaluating Comprehensive Form
Expanding your knowledge of recent form into comprehensive form will involve a bit more research. Evaluating a horse’s complete history from its maiden race, across each age group and on all courses is important, but it takes dedication and possibly spreadsheets.
How the horse has finished historically in wet versus dry conditions may be a factor, for instance; dedicated statistics hounds can research performance patterns in everything from the starting gate number to the sex of the jockey.
You also need to be aware of how different ailments can affect a horse and how poor performance in racehorses is evaluated and treated. Stay abreast of industry news, to know when relevant conditions are diagnosed in specific horses and feed that information into your comprehensive form analysis too.
Take Digital Advantage
This sort of in-depth data analysis would be beyond almost all punters without the magic of computers. However, even with a laptop and a program capable of extrapolating reliable bets from all the data, this approach requires dedicated input and regular updates, while still not guaranteeing fool proof results.
Where computers score undoubtedly is in the internet’s ability to provide loads of information instantly. You can check the complete history of every horse, jockey and trainer on race cards at an online betting site, so whatever metric you use to pick winners, you have all the data you need.