Horse Racing Basics: How To Read A Racing Program

Everyone loves a big day at the races – whether you are lucky enough to be able to go to a big festival, or whether you like watching from the comfort of your sofa, there is always something to enjoy when it comes to horse racing. We all know that the race program is one of the most important tools at a bettor’s disposal when it comes to building a strategy and placing bets. At first sight, it can pose a confusing and intimidating amount of information, but once read properly and understood, it becomes invaluable. Here we take a look at horse racing basics and look at how to read a racing program. 

On the program, you will find the following information for each race, and this will help you to decide which races, and horses, to bet on. 

Form figures

This information tells you the finishing positions recorded by each horse in their last six races. This is important information as it tells you about how well the horse is currently performing. Keep in mind that not all races will have taken place in the same conditions, so if you are interested in a horse, it is wise to look into the form figures in more detail before placing a bet. 


As happens in the world of sport, there are some who are better than others, and there are some who dominate the rest. This is true when it comes to trainers in horse racing. Take a look at the trainer and research their other horses, their reputation and their success as this will give you a good idea as to how their horse is likely to run. 


When it comes to horse racing, the horse is really only half of the story. The jockey riding the horse makes a huge amount of difference when it comes to chances of winning. Jockeys like Dettori are big names in the sport, and he has dominated for many years. However, with a little bit of reading and research you may be able to make a smart bet on an up and coming jockey who has the skill and courage to race better than others expect. 


The horse’s age is given, and this is something to take note of and to factor into your betting decisions. Taking the horse’s age into consideration will tell you where the horse is in its career. It may be an experienced horse that will take the race in its stride, or it may be a younger horse in need of some experience and at risk of being overwhelmed by the big event. 


This key piece of information tells you about the course and the conditions that the horses will be running on. When you look at this alongside the horses’ previous form you will see whether the conditions favour the horse you are interested in putting a bet on. 


In a handicapped race, this will tell you how much weight the horse is carrying and this will give you an idea of how likely the assessor feels a win is.