How to Pick a Horse at the Races: The Key Considerations

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Whether you are attending a day out at the races or looking to have your annual flatter on the iconic Grand National at Aintree, there are numerous ways in which you can select a horse. From listening to pundits on television and favouring unfancied runners with exalted odds to selecting horses with the most interesting names, these methods are extremely diverse while not a single one is guaranteed to deliver a bona fide winner.

This reflects the inexact science that underpins horse racing and all competitive sports, as any single competitor can win at any given time regardless of the odds that are against them. The aforementioned Grand National provides a relevant case in point, as this race has delivered numerous shocks through the years including Foinavons stunning 100/1 success back in 1967 (when the rank outsider prevailed after a huge pile-up at the 23rd fence).

How to Pick a Horse at the Races: The Key Considerations

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Given that it is impossible to pick a certified winner at the races, your best bet is to develop a consistent strategy that seeks to minimise risk and optimise your chances of winning. While this may sound obvious, the challenge lies in getting your strategy right and enjoying frequent wins at events nationwide (whether you are spending your hard-earned money or leveraging horse racing free bets with Bethut).

As a starting point, divide your strategy into two phases. The first of these will require you to create a consistent selection policy that helps you to determine the likely winners of any given race. The second will use factors such as value and pricing to finalise your bet, as you look to make the most of each, individual wager.

In terms of the former, we recommend using form guides to gain an insight into individual races. The issue with this is that many people do not know how to read them, while guides also vary depending on the geographic location of the race. All UK-based form guides adopt a similar layout, however, so let’s take a look at the crucial information that will shape your thinking.

The most important data to review is the recent form of each horse, which usually includes the final placing achieved in their last six races. Numbers one to nine highlight their final place, while a zero indicates that the filly did not place in the top 10. If you see a hyphen or a forward slash, this means that the results to the left were either recorded last season or prior to an extended break, and these should be treated with a little more caution than recent finishes.

The form guide will also highlight the jockey and the trainer, and this is also an important piece of information. After all, a horse that is being ridden by a champion jockey (or that comes from a stellar stable managed by a championship-leading trainer) is likely to have a competitive edge in any given race, depending on the conditions and the overall nature of the field.

Appraising Value, Weight and Age

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With the form and the calibre of each runner in mind, you should have narrowed the field to a core group of potential winners. Now is the time to refine your choice further, and there are a number of factors that can help you to determine this.

If you look at the right-hand side of the form guide, for example, you will see a column highlighting the horses age and the weight that they will be carrying. Of course, there will not be much variation in the age of the competitors, but the weight that they carry as a handicap can have a significant impact (particularly over longer races and steeplechases). You should therefore consider this when comparing runners, as it may make the difference in a tight encounter.

Value is also a key consideration, as each horse will have predetermined odds that are set by bookmakers. These will change during the build-up to the race, with the price tending to narrow as more money is placed on a particularly filly. This price remains a key indicator of value and directly influences the money that you will make if your horse comes in, however, so it can be used to inform your final decision. Remember, you will never earn more than your original stake with odds-on or evens bets, while others deliver an incremental return on your wager.

So there you have it; a simple guide to betting on horses and developing a viable selection system. All that is left is to wish you look, and we hope that your next filly comes good!

Now what’re you waiting for? Back your favourite for the weekend’s racing now!

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