Horse Racing Form Guide Explained - The Ultimate Guide (2018 Update)

  • Last Updated: 1st January 2018
Horse Racing Form Guide Explained

In this guide we explain all you need to know about the horse racing form guide including how to read horse racing form as well as other factors you should consider.

Horse Racing Form Guide Explained

Once you know how to bet on horse racing, the next natural step is to learn is how to read a horse racing form card.

A horse racing form card (or racecard) has a deliberate hierarchy and gives you information about each race. Being able to read a horse racing form card is, understandably, very important if you want to be successful.

Did you know? We offer free horse racing tips for today covering all the major festivals as well as a range of other racecourses.

How To Read Horse Racing Form

Below we explain the different aspects of the card along with other factors you should consider before placing your bets. You can use the image below of a fairly standard online UK racecard as reference.

Horse Racing Form Card Graphic


The first larger number (far left) is the number of the horse in the race (which you will also see on the horse’s saddle throughout the race) assigned by the track officials. These numbers are always displayed on a racecard in order of the amount of weight the horse is carrying.


The smaller number (to the right of the horses number) represents the draw that the horse has got in the stalls. The lower the number, the closer the horse will be to the rails which can be an advantage on certain tracks and distances.


Below the horses NO. is a line of numbers which represent the horses form. Form runs from left to right, with the oldest races on the left and the most recent on the right.

  • The numbers 1-9 indicate the position the horse finished in the race.
  • The number 0 indicates that the horse finished outside the first 9.
  • The symbol – separates racing seasons. Numbers before the – are for last season.
  • The symbol / indicates a longer gap – for example if the horse missed an entire racing season.
  • P or PU indicates that the horse was pulled up by the jockey and did not complete the race.

The following abbreviations normally apply to jump racing:

  • F indicates the horse fell.
  • R indicates a horse refused.
  • BD indicates the horse was brought down by another runner.
  • U or UR indicates that the horse unseated its jockey.


The second column displays the name of the horse along with the shirt (known as silks) that the jockey will wear. You will also see a number (which shows how many days it was since the horse last ran) and some abbreviations.

  • C indicates a horse has won on that course before.
  • D indicates a horse has won over that distance before.
  • CD indicates a horse has won over that course and distance before.
  • BF stands for beaten favourite and indicates a horse was favourite for a race, but did not win.


This shows the age of the horse (fairly self explanatory).


Again, fairly self explanatory. This is the amount of weight the horse will carry (including the jockey and the saddle) as decreed by the conditions of the race. You may also see some more abbreviations depending on whether the horse is wearing or using any equipment.

  • b indicates the horse is wearing blinkers.
  • v indicates the horse is wearing a visor.
  • e/s indicates the horse is wearing an eyeshield.
  • c/c indicates the horse is wearing a eyecover.
  • h indicates the horse is wearing a hood.
  • t indicates the horse is wearing a tongue strap.
  • p indicates the horse is wearing a cheek pieces.

Underneath the weight of the horse is the official rating of the horse. These ratings allow horses to compete in handicap races where the higher rated horses carry more weight.

Jockey & Trainer

This shows both the name of the jockey and the trainer of the horse. If a jockey has a number in brackets to the side of his name then it means he is an apprentice jockey and is claiming a weight allowance.


The final column shows the odds bookmakers are offering for the horse to win. You can read more on this with our betting odds explained article where we also look at the various ways they can be displayed, including decimal, fractional and American.

Other Factors To Consider

There are a number of other factors you should consider before placing your bets.

Race Details

It is important to consider the type of race (flat race, chase, hurdle or bumper) and whether the race is a handicap. You should also look at the distance of the race as well as the size of the field.


Different horses prefer different surfaces so the condition (also known as the ‘going’) of the track can have a key bearing on the outcome of a race.

You can find up-to-date going reports on Twitter by following @RCAGoingReports or by downloading the Racing Post app.

The table below features standard going descriptions along with their abbreviations that you may come across.

Going DescriptionAbbreviation
Good To FirmGD-FM
Good To SoftGD-SFT
Good To YieldingGD-YLD
Soft To HeavySFT-HVY
Standard To FastSTD-FST
Standard To SlowSTD-SLW
Yielding To SoftYLD-SFT


As you can see, there are many aspects to a horse racing form card and it is easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information presented.

However, it is crucial that you understand each part and the factors you need to consider in order to increase your chances of being successful.