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When you first start with horse racing, you’ll probably have more questions than answers when it comes to betting on the ‘Sport of Kings’. And, while there is no magic answer or water-tight formula, there are a few key things you can do to increase the odds of you backing a winning horse. In our How to’s when it comes to horse racing, we aim to guide you past the post and ensure you have fun along the way.
Check out the form
With forms and racecards for events, you will have all the information you need at your fingertips. The form is a resumé for a horse or jockey and will show you a summary of their recent performance, including wins, refusals, and failures to place. By using the form – widely available through the media, online, and via the race card – for a horse in the race you are looking to place a bet on, you can assess whether it is the right one to back.
Understand those odds
Odds are synonymous with racehorse betting but what are they exactly? Simply put, the odds placed on a horse by a bookmaker indicates how likely it is theoretically to win…or not. The shorter the odds, eg 2-1, the better its chances. However, it’s important to remember that short odds mean the return on your bet will be lower than a horse with longer odds.
Be familiar with the jockeys
Don’t just focus on the horse, as the jockey can also offer a lot of intel and could help you to pick that winning combination. There are currently around 450 professional jockeys in the UK, with another 300 or so amateurs, yet an estimated 10,000 racehorses run every year. These figures mean that the best jockeys are in demand. And, this means that trainers will be pairing the best jockey with their best horse, with both best suited to the course and the conditions. The trick is to look for these strong combinations.
Know the types of ground
So, now you know the form of the horse and jockey, your next ‘how to’ focus on the ground. Different racetracks have different course surfaces, which can change depending on the conditions on the day. The dry or firm ground will give a fast ride and so are more suited to horses with slighter builds, whereas heavier horses or horses that strike the ground hard will prefer softer terrain, which has often been conditioned by the weather on the day. Once you know the ground, refer back to the form and you should be able to match horses best suited to the conditions on race day.
Place your bet
Our final ‘how to’ is one that brings it all together, and that is how to place your bet. And our best piece of advice is to look to get the best value for your wagering money. And this doesn’t always mean going for the obvious. The favorite in any race will have the lowest odds and while they do romp home victorious around 33% of the time, they will give you the lowest return on your investment. By studying the form, knowing the horses, being familiar with your jockeys, and appreciating the ground conditions on the day, you can make a more educated guess as to who is likely to win, and if any potential outsiders could prove to be a race day upset and worth your attention. And that little bit of extra knowledge is how to make your day at the races even more enjoyable!