How to read a racecard

A racecard provides information about a horse race and about each of the horses entered to run it. It may also serve as a betting slip, in which case punters can make their selections directly on the card.

how to read a racecardIf you’re new to betting on horse racing, you may be wondering how to decode the racecards used by online bookmakers. Racecards may look complicated at first glance, but actually they provide a simple and effective summary of key information you need to bet on a race.

A racecard is made available once the field and other relevant factors have been finalized. This may be several days in advance for high profile races, while race cards for less prestigious races are typically released within 24 hours of the race

What’s on a racecard

A typical racecard includes the following information:

  • the number of the racehorse, which is also printed on the saddle blanket beneath the racehorse saddle
  • a sequence of numbers and letters describing the form of each racehorse, or how it has fared over the course of its last several races
  • the colour of the silks worn by the jockeys of the various selections; the silks identify the racehorse owners
  • the name of the racehorse
  • the age of each racehorse and, in handicap races, the weight it will be carrying in the race
  • the trainer of each racehorse and the jockey who’ll be riding it in the race
  • in some cases, historic odds for each racehorse; these indicate whether odds for a horse have been drifting in the betting markets, and where the money is going
  • the odds on the horse for the race.

Any online betting site will provide access to racecards for all the races you can choose to bet on. Before a race starts, these are dynamically updated to reflect any changes in the relevant information or the odds.

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Interpreting form information on a racecard

On a racecard, a form code for each racehorse describes its form over its last six races, from least to most recent. Each number in the code specifies the position in which the horse placed. A zero indicates tenth place or lower. In the example above, the form code 217560 indicates that the horse placed second six races ago. In its second-last race it came in sixth, and in its most recent race, it finished in tenth place or lower. A racecard may include additional letters that provide further information about a horse. For example:

  • F denotes a fall in a race
  • P or PU indicates that the racehorse was pulled up (or refused) in a race
  • U or UR indicates that the horse unseated its rider
  • C denotes a win at the racecourse where the current race is being held
  • D denotes a win over the same distance as the relevant race
  • BF tells readers that the racehorse defeated the favourite in a race
  • / (a slash) specifies that a racehorse was scratched from a race
  • - (a hyphen) indicates that the racehorse missed a season of racing in the country where the race is taking place.
  • TS indicates the horse's Topspeed rating
  • OR is the horse's official rating
  • RPR is sometimes included to indicate the horse's Racing Post Rating

For a more detailed record of a horse’s form, you can check sources like the Racing Post, which lets you search for a racehorse and review accurate information describing its form over its entire career.

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