How to read the Racing Form

Newspaper Racing Form pages

One of the reasons why new punters shy away from horse racing is due to the complex nature of the race cards. These show the most recent form of each horse plus a few other pointers you can use when making your selections. However, these are not as difficult to understand as a quick glance would suggest, and with a few small pointers you will find yourself easily dissecting the upcoming horse racing and making your selections by looking at the form.

You can find a wealth of information from a race card, and you can take a look at these as either an overview of the entire race, or as one individual horse in a race, looking at their form in more depth. When it comes to an overall race card with information on every runner in a race, here is what you need to look out for to get to grips with it.

Ayr racecard

  • The first number on the left-hand side of the card (1 to 5 in this instance) is the number that each horse is in the race
  • The five characters next to that, often a mixture of numbers and letters are the most recent five runs by that horse, with the most recent being the one that is on the right, nearest to the horse’s name. More on what those abbreviations mean below
  • The number in grey after the horse’s name is the amount of days since the horse last ran, so for example, Ain’t My Fault last ran 26 days ago
  • WGT stands for weight, the numbers here show how much weight the horse will carry, this is a combination of the jockey’s weight and additional lead weights placed in the saddle
  • The number at the side of the trainer’s name is the RTF%, which stands for runners to form. This is based on the last 14 days and looks at how many of the trainers past runners go as expected, do those that are favourite or close to being favourite run well and possibly win? So in our example the trainer Lucinda Russell has a 20% RTF rate in the last 14 days. If a trainer doesn’t have a number here, they have not had enough recent runners to judge
  • OR, TS & RPR are all rating systems. OR is the most important, the horses official rating and the one used when working out the weights for a handicap race. RPR is the racing post rating while TS stands for top speed ratings, both of which have been in operation for many years and are respected, the higher the number the better the horse
Ain't My Fault form

Alongside studying a race overall, you can also take a more in-depth look into the recent form of each individual horse. As you can see above, alongside what we have already seen in the overall race card, you can also see more detail about the horse’s last runs here.

  • The race outcome section is the most important of this. The numbers at the start are the horse’s finishing position and number of runners. In the example above, Ain’t My Fault finished 2nd of five runners in his most recent start. The number of runners is an important factor here, something you don’t see on the overall race card. Again using this example, the horse has finished 2nd on his last four starts, but it is only here we see he has been running in fields of 5, 8, 9 and 3. If that form was all in three runner fields, those 2nd placed finished probably wouldn’t be as impressive 
  • The final part to note is the OR/TS/RPR columns on the right-hand side. These are ratings as we know, but here you see how they have changed, if the horse has been consistent or it has come down or gone up a lot in the ratings recently. As you can see, the official rating of Ain’t My Fault has been relatively flat, the horse was rated 117 when running on the 19th January 2019, and goes into this race rated the same after small rises and falls in between

Race Card Form Abbreviations

When looking at the form you will see a mixture of numbers and letters, and sometimes even symbols at the side of each horse. Here is a quick look at what they all mean.

  • Numbers – the finishing position of the horse in the race, if the horse finished 10th or worse then 0 is shown to cover all of those, so 10th out of 20 runners and 19th out of 20 runners would look the same in this section
  • Letters – These appear when a horse has done something during a race, for example above Ain’t My Fault has an ‘F’ at the side of his name. F stands for faller, which means the horse fell, PU is another common one, this means the horse was pulled up mid-race by the jockey, U means the horse unseated the rider, slightly different to falling, while R is not too common but means the horse refused to race
  • Symbols – The two symbols you will see on a race card are ‘-‘ and ‘/’. A dash is there to show the end of a racing season, every horse will have one of these in their form if they have ran less than five times in that particular season. The ‘/’ symbol is when a horse has been off the track injured and missed an entire season

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