If you’re going to enjoy a day at the races with your mates, you need to know how to read a racecard. In this guide, we’re going to explain everything you need to study form.
Below is a basic example of a racecard:
There are a few obvious points which we must touch on, although very basic! It’s quite obvious to see what time the race is at, the horse’s names and numbers. After that, it gets a little tricky.
The horses form is under their number on this racecard. Numbers are easy but knowing what each letter stands for is the hard part…
- F is Fell.
- U is Unseated Rider.
- B is Brought Down.
- R is Refused.
- P is the horse what pulled up and didn’t finish the race.
When looking at a card for flat racing, after the horse’s number you will see a number in brackets – IE 7 (5). The number in bracket is the stall that the horse is drawn in.
There are a couple of other letters to look out for on the racecard. Look again at the above example and you will see more letters under the horse’s names. These letters are..
- C means the horse has previously won on this course.
- D means the horse has previously won over this distance.
- CD means the horse has won over the course and distance that they are racing on today.
- BF means the last time the horse racing it was a beaten favourite.
You might think that’s all the letters explained but there are more! You will see more letters after the horses name on the racecard and these are what equipment the horse is wearing.
- B is blinkers.
- V is visor.
- E/S is eyeshield.
- C/C is eye cover.
- H is hood.
- T is tongue strap.
- P is cheekpieces.
And that’s all the letters covered! It’s actually quite easy to follow the form when you fully understand what everything means.
After all the letters are out of the way, you should look out for the race distance, the horse’s age and the weight that is it carrying. These are quite easy to follow; age and weight have their own columns and usually, the distance of each race is at the top of the card.
The next column, after the Trainer and Jockey column, is the rating column. Each horse will get a rating from the handicapper and it is displayed here. The better the horse, the higher the rating. Races don’t always go to the highest-rated horse though, so watch out for that. Sometimes the handicapper (the person who rates every horse) can give a horse a rating too high and then other times a trainer may feel that the rating is too low – you generally hear horses described as “well in” when punters or the owners feel the rating is too low.
One of the biggest factors in each race is “The Going.” This is how the ground is riding on the day of the race. You usually get heavy, soft, good and firm as the descriptions in most places but beware of different countries having different standards. In Ireland for example, they have Yielding – which means not quite soft and not quite good. You will generally see “good to soft” or “good to firm” in the UK and this means it’s just a little in between both. TV Interviewers will tend to ask jockeys after the first race which it is closer to!
You should be able to read a racecard easily now, and enjoy your day at the races! There are some excellent days out each year at the races, with Cheltenham and Royal Ascot the top two places to experience the best racing possible.