Horse racing is one of the more complicated sports to bet on. The ground conditions, the rider, and the pedagogy all need to be considered before you start to make your choices. That being said, you don’t need to be an expert to get into the game!
The first thing you need to do is pick your horse. You might be tempted by a fun name, or a previous winner, but in reality you should be focusing on these 6 factors; The Going, Distance, Pedigree, Connections, Course Form, and Handicap Markers.
What to Look for in a Horse
If you are placing your first bet in the winter, then you need to keep an eye on the going. The “Going” means how the horse has done previously. Most horses like the strong, dry and stable terrain that summer brings, but some love the winter dangers of mud and rain.
If you check how the horses have done in previously bad conditions, you can predict how they will do in the current climate.
Again you need to look at the history of the horse. Every horse, like every person, will be great at some sports and bad at another. Flat land, and high obstacles can be a treat or a challenge to all. At some point the horse’s stamina will start to give out.
Look at the history of the horse and how they handled distances and obstacles in their previous races. Knowing this, you can predict if the course ahead is in their favor.
It’s all well and good talking about history, until a new horse shows up at the races. With no history to look into, you cannot tell if this new contestant is a threat or not. This is when their pedigree comes in. Knowing who birthed and sired, the newcomer can give you a hint at their capabilities.
Until they have been in a couple of races, you won’t know for sure what their stamina will look like, but you can get a reasonable estimate.
Knowing the horse’s pedigree tells you their genetics, but we often wonder if nature or nurture wins out. Usually, it's a mixture of the two. Knowing the trainer and the jockey will help you calculate how a new or older horse will do in a race.
If the horse has good stamina but cannot handle hurdles, check to see if their trainer has changed. Maybe their latest trainer creates hurdling champions. With this new information, you can bet that the old horse has learned a few new tricks.
The Course’s Form
Even if the sun is shining and your horse loves a hurdle, the course itself could be the least favorite in the horse’s eyes. Often a course will give you a racecard for the previous winners in their categories. Each course will have different obstacles, and some horses are considerably better at tackling them than others.
Check out the history of each course and if a consistent horse, trainer, or jockey is playing on the day.
Their Handicap Mark
Imagine the big fish in a little pond analogy. Being the best in your category is a fantastic feeling, but when you move up the ranks, the new competition will be more challenging than you expect.
Every horse will have a handicap marker that tells you where they stand in the tables. Keep an eye on these markers; they will slowly decrease over time to show how well a horse is doing in their competitions.
If a horse has joined a new category, they will not do well against other horses which have been in this category for longer. They will have become a mediocre fish in a big pond.
Look at the history of their handicap, and compare it to the other horses in the race. You should pick a horse that hasn’t been given a newly lowered handicap.
How To Bet - The Basics
There are four ways to traditionally bet on a horse, betting to win, betting a place, betting to show, and across-the-board bets.
We will give you a brief explanation of all four.
Betting To Win
This bet is as simple as it sounds. You are betting on the horse you think will cross the line first.
Betting A Place
This bet gives you a little more wiggle room. Here you want to pick a horse that will finish in first or second place. You will win less money than a bet to win, but you are more likely to succeed.
Betting To Show
Betting to show means betting to show up. This wager means your horse needs to come in first, second, or third place to win. Again the prize will be less, but the odds are more in your favor!
Across the Board
This bet is putting your eggs in all the baskets, which means it costs more.
If your horse comes in first place, you achieve the win, place, and show bets.
If your horse comes in second place, you achieve the place and show bets.
If your horse comes in third place, you achieve the show bets.
If your horse doesn’t get these rankings, you lose out on more money than the single bets.