How to Read a Racing Form Guide

The horse racing form guide is an essential tool for all punters, but only if you know what to look for and what it all means - that's where my handy 'How to Read a Racing Form Guide' comes in.

Different racing form guides obviously offer different things and can vary in appearance and formatting, but most will include similar information. I’ve taken the standard form guide offered by and highlighted what all the words and numbers represent in a single horse’s form, to erase any confusion the amateur punter may have when studying a race. 

Racing Form Guide Explained


1 - About the Horse

The top section of the racing form guide tells us all about the horse. We can see in this example that the horse is number 14 and is named Mogador. He is a three-year-old bay or brown colt whose sire is Lonhro and dam is Essaouira. He is owned by Godolphin, trained by John O’Shea and will be ridden by jockey Brenton Avdulla, who will wear Royal Blue silks. The horse has had 11 starts in his career for two wins, three seconds and one third, earning a total of $207,300 in prizemoney so far. This season he has raced eight times for one win, two seconds and one third, and his two wins have come over 1000m and 1100m. 

2 - Race Conditions 

The next section of the racing form guide is crucial when assessing a race. On this occasion, the distance of the race was 1200m and the track rating was a Good 4. The form guide tells us Mogador will wear blinkers (a piece of head gear) and will start from barrier 5. His allocated weight to carry is 54kg. He has had six starts at this distance, for two runner-up finishes and one third placing.

With the knowledge that the track is rated a Good 4, it is important to look at the horse’s form on Good tracks previously. We can see that Mogador has had five starts on Good tracks, resulting in one win and two second place finishes. 

3 - Last Start

Obviously a crucial part of assessing a horse’s chance in the race is to look at its form leading into the race. As highlighted in the picture above, Mogador’s last start was on the 25th June 2016 in the WJ Healy Stakes at Group 3 level, where he ran 3rd and was beaten by 5.6 lengths. That was over a distance of 1200m and the track was rated a Soft 5 on the day. He started from barrier 1 with 54kg and was ridden by R Fradd. The race comments suggest he settled well back in the field (about 6L from the leader) on the rail, shifted out on the turn for home and ran on near the rail in the straight without ever threatening the winner.

_ _ 

All the different numbers, words and abbreviations on a form guide can seem a little overwhelming for new racing punters, but when you break it down, it really is just the essential information that you need to assess a race.

The numbers don’t lie, but they certainly don’t tell the whole story, and if you don’t know exactly what the most important things to look for are, then you may as well bet blindly! Hopefully this information will help you to read a racing form guide and find a few more winners.

Stay tuned for more great horse racing and betting articles coming up on Before You Bet to help you become a better punter! Also make sure to check out all our horse racing betting tips!  


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