How To Read A Race Card – UK Horse Racing
If you wish to place a quick bet, you can do so quickly on horse racing. All you need to know is the basics of placing a bet with a betting site, then look at the race field, pick a selection and hope for the best. If you are interested in horse racing and want to get more involved, you might find that this sport has terminology that could be confusing at first. For example, what is the ‘going’ and how it can have an effect on the outcome of a race?
The more time you will invest in understanding the details of horse racing, the more that experience will help when making a selection. The Race Card is a fantastic tool to get all the key information you need before placing a bet however if you never looked at one before then you might be puzzled about what is the meaning of all the symbols. If you learn how to read a race card you will get lots of valuable insight on horse form that might significantly increase your chances of winning.
What Will You Find In A Race Card?
If you are betting on horses, it is essential that you are able to read the race card as this will give you valuable insights on the upcoming racing. For this reason, in this guide, we will be looking at how to read the traditional race card, like the ones that you will be given at any race course. After all, digital race cards are made using the same principle so you will be able to understand well also those if you get the basics of the traditional one.
It is worth noting that some betting sites go well beyond a simple rate card, but they are giving their customers a wealth of information that will help you make more educated betting decisions. If you are interested in good horse racing betting sites, take a look at our horse racing guide where we have hand-picked the best operators for this sport.
If you go to a racecourse, you will be offered the opportunity to buy programmes where inside you will find lots of information in addition to adverts for local companies.
What you will see in the race card is:
The name of the race, the date and also the meeting which you probably already know. When you open the race card, you will find the information that you will find useful if you are planning to place bets.
In the race card it is likely that you will find some history about the racecourse: although this might seem redundant do not underestimate it as it will give you some useful insight about the types of horses that generally perform better in the specific race track. Knowing the kind of horses that have made history in a particular track can provide very actionable information. Here you will also be able to see how the course has developed over the years and if there have been some recent changes to take into account.
What is the Race List?
The most important thing you will find in a race card is the list of the races that will take place over the day. The header will tell you what the name of the race is and who is the sponsor. For example on Grand National you will find the following header:
2.50pm – Betway Bowl Chase – Grade 1 – 3m210y
As you can see in the header, you will also find how long the race is and what is the class. Underneath the title and time of the race, you will also be able to find information about what are the horse limitations in regards to that specific race. For example, you might find 5yo+, 0-140: this means that this race is for horses that are five years old or older and have a rating from 0 to 140.
In the header, you will also find the prize money that the winner will get, how many horses will take place in the field, what is the track surface like (the going) and if it is going to be broadcasted by a TV channel. In some race cards, you will also find the length of the race here rather than in the Header.
Since the ‘Going’ and the number of horses that will take part tend to change in the last minute, you need to be aware that those information were only correct when the rate card was printed and might not be accurate anymore. This is why lots of punters don’t place large bets on the first race unless they are very confident that their selection is particularly strong: waiting a bit will allow seeing how the Going is and how it is impacting the different types of horses.
What is The Going?
The ‘Going’ it refers to how the ground is, and there are lots of different options: hard to firm, good to firm, good, etc. until Heavy.
The Going is determined by the weather, so if there has been lots of rain, we will have a Heavy or Soft Going.
When evaluating the impact of the Going on the outcome of a race, it is crucial for you to check how the horses have performed in similar circumstances. Some horses like the ground to be soft, other good and so on.
Race Card – Details About The Race
In addition to the information we have just listed, in the Race Card you will also find other things that might seem complicated at first. The best way to understand the information provided is to break it down, and everything will make a lot more sense.
The next thing you will find in the Race Card is the minimum weight and also any penalties that have been applied to that horses. You will even know if they are carrying extra weight.
Penalty Value strangely indicates the amount of money that the horses that will finish in the top 4 positions will get.
Race Card – Info About Jockey And Trainer
This is where not racing fans start to get a bit bored when looking at a racecard. Don’t give up though as if you keep analysing you will find handy information that can make the difference between a winning and a losing bet.
In the race card, you will find essential info on every horse that will compete in the race but also details on the jockey and the trainer. You will also see what the Silks that are ware by the jockeys are: this will help you while watching the race to identify the selections. In addition to that, you will also see the number of the horse and where it was born (i.e. GBP, IRE etc.). Good race cards will also tell you the number of days passed since the last time the horse raced.
In the most significant races you will also find a photo of the jockey and a number next to them: this indicates the amount of weight they can reclaim from the starting weight that is given to a horse. Here you will also see the name of the trainer.
Race Card – Info About The Horse
There are some great insights into the race card, and most are directly linked to the horses’ qualities. For example, you will find the colour and the sex of the horse that is indicated with letters (i.e. Ch – Chestnut, g – Gelding, etc.). It is important to note that the colour has a capitalised letter while the sex usually is in the lower case.
In addition to those, you will also find three other horse names: those are showing the horse’s family history: so you have the father (Sire) and the mother (Dam and the maternal grandfather who is called Damsire.
Horse’s genealogy is massively important in horse racing, so this is a piece of information you might want to consider carefully.
Race Card – Previous Form
Undoubtedly the most critical part of the race card is where you can see how the horses have performed in recent times. Similarly to the other info, those are written in code and will look like this: 14-Pd2
The most recent race will be at the end of the list, and the numbers indicates the outcome of that race. Also, you need to check if the letters are uppercase or lowercase as there is a difference. In this example P means (Pulled up) and d (Disqualified). The symbol – indicates the turn of the year and can also be represented by /. So in the example provided, the horse won, then he came fourth last year. This year it was Pulled up, disqualified and eventually finished second in the most recent race.
You might also find other letters that provide more info concerning the race and course. For example, we might have CD which stands for ‘Never won over the course and distance’ or BF ‘was a favourite for this race in the but was beaten’ and so on.
Race Card – Comments & Timeform
Below all the information about the horse, you will also find an additional review of their previous performance under the ‘Comment’, ‘Information’ and ‘Timeform’ sections. Timeform is a company that does provide an analysis of the chances that a horse has to win a specific race. Similar insights you will get in the other two sections. The most important thing to remember is that those are simply opinions provided by horse betting experts. It is similar to having a chat with horse trainers to find out what is their view on the race. Some of the comments you might find in this section will be along the line of ‘Struggled last time in the same distance, did well here a couple of years ago. He performs better when Going is good.
In addition to those comments, you will also find a Star Rating that visually provides insights into the chances that a horse has to win a race. If there are 5 stars it means the horse is favourite to win, four stars are likely to be challenging even if it is not the favourite and so on.
When making your own mind, you should be using factual information about the horse and also take a look at the odds, rating, comments and so on. If you make the most of those useful insights, you will increase your winning chances.
Race Card – BHA Rating
The last piece of information that you will see in the race card is the horse’s BHA Rating. This is an official rating that is given to every horse by one of the handicappers that are employed by the British Horse Authority. Every horse would need to have taken part in a minimum number of races so that the handicapper has a chance to assess them correctly and provide an accurate rating.
Horses taking part in handicap races are given an extra amount of weight to carry which is assigned by the BHA Rating. The concept is that the better is the horse, the more weight he will have to carry.
It is worth remembering that in non-handicap races horses are not carrying extra weight. The RHA Rating in the race card, however, does indicate what was the rating when it was entered in the race. If a horse is running a steeplechase for the first time, the Rating will be determined on how he did perform in hurdles races, and you will find a lowercase ‘n’ to indicate that in the race card.
Race Card – Facts About the Race
The more important is the race and the more information you will find in its history. Those additional pages are quite useful as they might provide some general details that can help to come up with a final decision. This is especially if you are struggling to make the call after reading the main card.
As you will probably know race cards do differ as it ultimately depends on the directions given by the racecourse owners and the editor of the race card. The codes, however, are always the same, so if you have a basic knowledge of the symbols and the meaning, you will be able to extract useful insights by any race card across the UK.
At first the race card might make the world of racing even more confusing but in reality is a brilliant tool that you should use to get some advantage over the bookmakers.
Online & Printed Race Cards
Nowadays you will find detailed racecards also online. In short, they are the same as the printed ones, just packages a bit differently: it is like an online magazine and his printed version. People who tend to bet on shop or at the racecourse usually use the traditional race card while if you are gambling online, it is likely you will get that information digitally.
The main benefit of a printed rate card is that you can make some edits like for example circling key stats or horses. Another positive thing is that you can access the race card at any time while for the digital version you need the internet that in busy meetings is not particularly reliable.
Online Racecard Pros
The main advantage though of looking at a racecard online is that the information is always up to date especially for latest Going changes, non-runners and odds. Online you will also find more detailed information on horses, jockeys and trainers. For the majority of punters the traditional race card information is enough but for professionals having access to more in-depth detail is essential.
Lots of online bookmakers are now providing not only a full race card but will also let you see details form of both runners and riders. Betting sites are investing heavily to ensure that extra layer of info to their punters so it is worth taking advantage as it can positively influence your horse racing betting. If you would like to know what are the best betting sites in this regards, make sure you check our horse racing betting guide: there you will find recommended bookmakers for news, stats, odds, tips and results.