Since the demise of the Sporting Life in 1998, the Racing Post newspaper and its website, www.racingpost.com, have been definitive sources of horse racing information for the British betting public. However, if you’re new to horse racing or unfamiliar with the Racing Post, we thought you might appreciate a brief taster of what to expect when you open its virtual pages.
The Racing Post launched an enhanced online offering, known as the Racing Post Members’ Club, available to anyone willing to pay a monthly subscription, in 2009. However, the good news for horse racing fans is that all the essential features – cards, form, statistics, etc – are still available completely free of charge.
Obviously, it’s difficult to review every single feature available in an article of this length, so we’ll concentrate on how to read the cards and how to drill down to the information you need, whether its form, jockey, owner or trainer statistics, or anything else.
To find the racecard you want, click on “Cards” on the menu at the top of the Racing Post homepage. By default, the cards for the current day’s racing are displayed, meeting by meeting, but if you want to view racecards for the following day, or further into the future, click on “Tomorrow” or one of the other options at the top of the page.
For the sake of this example, let’s say we want to view the racecard for Thirsk on Tuesday, September 16 on the evening of Monday, September 16. We click “Cards”, “Tomorrow” and the name of the race, “Follow Us @Thirskraces Handicap” to display the following racecard.
Most of the information in the race header is self-explanatory and, in this case, we can see at a glance that this is a Class 4 handicap, exclusively for three-year-olds rated between 0 and 85 by British Horseracing Authority (BHA), and due to be run over a mile on good to soft going.
It’s only really when we examine individual horses that some of the letters and numbers on the racecard need further explanation, so let’s have a look at them.
Racecard Number: A sequential number that identifies the position of the horse on the racecard. Typically only used when placing a bet with a bookmaker on the racecourse, or a Tote bet.
Draw: A number that identifies the position of a horse in the starting stalls. Nowadays, on left-handed and right-handed racecourses, the numbering of the stalls always starts on the inside.
Finishing Position: A series of alphanumeric characters indicating the horse’s finishing position in its recent races. The numbers 0 to 9 indicate finishing positions, while you may also see the letters F for “fell”, O for “ran out”, P for “pulled up”, R for “refused”, RR for “refused to race”, S for “slipped up” and U for “unseated rider”. Occasionally, you may also see the letter V for “void”, which means that the result of race in question for declared void for some reason.
Horse: Obviously the horse’s name, but also a figure indicating the number of days since it last ran and an abbreviation for any headgear that the horse is set to wear. Abbreviations you may come across include:
b for “blinkers”
c for “cheekpieces”
e for “earplugs”
h for “hood”,
t for “tongue tie” and
v for “visor”
In all cases, a superscript “1” alongside the abbreviation means that the horse is wearing the headgear for the first time. For example, b1 indicated blinkers first time.
Age: The age of the horse, in years. Regardless of their foaling date, all racehorses have their official birthday on January 1.
Weight: The weight that the horse is set to carry, regardless of any allowance claimed by an apprentice or conditional jockey, or any overweight.
Trainer: The name of the trainer responsible for the horse.
RTF%: An abbreviation for “Ran To Form”; the percentage of the horses in the trainer’s care that ran as well as expected, according to their BHA rating, in the last 14 days.
Jockey: The name of the jockey due to ride the horse in the race in question. Apprentice or conditional jockeys, who claim an allowance, are indicated by a superscript number, usually a 3, 5 or 7, but sometimes a 10, which represents the number of Imperial pounds they claim.
OR: An abbreviation for “Official Rating”; the rating allocated by the BHA that represents, in Imperial pounds, the ability of once horse relative to another. As you can see from the example above, a horse with an OR of 85 is required to concede 2lb to a horse with an OR of 83, and so on, in a handicap.
TS: An abbreviation for “Top Speed”; A rating based on the races times recorded by the horse, as calculated by the Racing Post. The figure displayed is the best rating recorded by the horse, adjusted for the weight it is set to carry in the race in question.
RPR: An abbreviation for “Racing Post Rating”; A rating based on the previous race record or, in other words, a private handicap rating calculated by the Racing Post, rather than the BHA. The figure displayed is the best rating recorded by the horse, adjusted for the weight it is set to carry in the race in question.
Of course, one of the beauties of the Racing Post website is the ability to drill down to the race-by-race record of each horse on the racecard. This, in turn, reveals a whole raft of further information and an explanation of that information will form a later article in this series, ‘How to Understand the Racing Post Part II’.
We hope you enjoyed ‘Winning Starts with Beginning: Understanding the Racing Post Part I’and we will be back soon with another advanced betting guide. In the meantime, we would love to hear your thoughts on ‘Winning Starts with Beginning: Understanding the Racing Post Part I’in the comments section below. If you missed our previous post in this series, ‘Ten Things You Might Not Know About The Racing Post’, you can read it here.