FORM READING – What The Hell Is Form Reading

FORM READING – What The Hell Is Form Reading

I do think there is an air of illusion surrounding form reading. This topic sometimes puts the average punter off when not knowing where to start when encountering a horse’s history, this is certainly the study part.

This leads them mostly into the realms of using tipsters and inept betting systems which seldom live up to expectations.

Don’t get me wrong I’m sure there are some really solid tipsters, as there are some decent and really good horse racing systems but they may take some trial and error to find.

Again the problem with relying on other peoples methods is that sometimes when the rules change or you’re not sure about something, you really have nowhere to turn and your own judgements fall apart at the seams. The betting public have been buying systems for so long now that its’ all they know. Now like I mentioned there are some good one, but dear me there are tons and tons of terrible ones.

Using such system’s may take you so far on your betting journey but in order to really make an impact on your relationship with betting you need to take responsibility and call your own shots.

A solid foundation when it comes to most things will give you a good leverage point to help you build your betting skills and really take them to the next level, by this I mean been able to read between the lines and stop making bad decisions.

For example – continuing with a lay bets in a race where the favourite or a couple of strong horses have been withdrawn is just betting suicide. However you will see people who are unable to move there mindset away from such mistakes, and when they lose they usually end up blaming the product or system they have just purchased.

Those who have the ability to read between the lines are the ones who stand a far greater chance of been able to cope when situations go against them. The last thing you want to do is put yourself in a risky position when you really don’t need to.

Where To Start;

We all need a point in which to start the selections process, whether we are looking to “Back or Lay to Dutch, Double Lay, Trade, whatever your prefered choice. But we need to be flexible and have the ability to turn and tweak our selection making process when the time calls for such actions, this is a must have skill set when it comes to consistency.

Now I won’t lie to you, this is harder said than done. I’m not going to bang on about how all you need to do is tick box A B C and from time to time D and all will be well…! It’s about more than that and it all starts with a solid foundation.

Horse-Racing001The more experience you become in terms of making selections, looking back over your results looking for patterns, spotting trends, asking you’re self questions and tightening the screw on your methods and mainly cutting out the simple errors which we have all made in the past. All of these points will give you an added advantage when betting.

I always looked upon my betting right from the start as a process, I never saw it as luck. I soon realised there was more to this in terms of picking a winning/losing horse than just flamboyant Jockey silks. As long as you treat racing like a business and you protect your bank from silly mistakes such as betting when bored or when intoxicated then you stand a much greater chance already than the average punter slumped in the bookies window every afternoon.

Let’s be transparent for a moment, we are dealing with the unexpected at times and it’s impossible to get it right all the time. The point here is to make sure any errors made when selecting horses are either few and far between or the correct selections far out way the mistakes.



multi-target1By removing horses which you think have no chance within the race and concentrating on a select few, then by doing this you’re already reading form.

I suggest you have a number of steps in place to eliminate or have specific criteria all possible selections must meet before you finally have your chosen selection.


Stick To Good Quality Races; Such as Non Handicap and Handicap, avoid Claimers, Sellers, Novice, Nursery and Maidens. This in itself should be point one in your selection process.

Be Selective; Concentrate your efforts on a certain type and number of races each day. Trying to cover all the days’ races will not only give you a headache but also lower your chances of success.

Look To Races; With 12 runners or less, races with more runners will give you too much to do in terms of qualifying horses within the race.

Avoid; Low grade races, courses and horses.

Look For Value; (Backing or Laying)
When “Backing” make sure your selection/selections are clearly ahead in terms of ability and criteria matching, compared to other within the race.

When Laying; Make sure your selection has not performed well in relation to (element) for today’s race. Laying within Handicaps can provide greater race competition and will usually give you’re lay selection much to do in order to win.

Favourites; In Handicaps races win on average around 28 % of their races which obviously gives scope for layers.

A High Percentage; Of race winners come from the top 3 in the betting forecast so it pays to concentrate on the top 3 possibly 4 in the betting.

Access Horse’s Recent Form; Looking at horses last few runs will give you a better understanding of how the horse is currently running. However like I’ve mentioned in a previous post, recent form is not set in stone so please make sure you also check the background as to what type of races the horse competed in over these last few races, same Class, Distance, Ground e.t.c ask yourself does this horse stand up to today’s conditions?

A Clear Indication May Well Be The Form Pattern; If a horse’s recent form is 732 then the horse has shown progress and it may be running into some decent form, but if the form figures were reversed 237 then there will be cause for concern from a backing point of view. Again check the last races the horse has produced these figures over to access if a similar pattern is to be expected today.

Place Emphasis On Horses Speed; Race times in which a horse has won or placed recently in similar race types are important.

Avoid Horses Moving Up In Class; When backing as horses may need a couple of runs to adapt to a change in Class, a step up in Class will certainly be more of a challenge for a horse. The horse may very well be able to compete in a better Class but it’s always best to see how the horse performs first before assuming the horse will be able to make the change.

Past history may even show you how many times the horse has previously attempted this and the result. Even dropping a horse back in Class is no guarantee that a horse will win at a lower level, again checking the horses history may give you tell tale signs.

Horses Finishing Position; A horse finishing down the field on its last run is not always a negitive in terms of Handicap racing. Approach all Handicap races with an open mind, look for strong signs of horses who may have finished down the field on softer conditions who now run on prefered firmer ground.

Avoid Unproven Jockeys;. Especially in handicap races when the apprentice claimimg the 7lb allowance. This shows a lack of confidence in the horses ability, when a inexperienced Jockey is chosen to ride to reduce the poundage.

Take note; When a top Jockey is booked by a small stable, this usually shows signs of a expected good run.

Look for horses that have ran recently; (30 day rule) horses coming back from a long layoff usually require a couple of runs to get back to some sort of form and achieve a decent level of fitness.

Be advised there are a few exceptions to this rule and some horses actually come back from a long layoff to perform extremely well so again it pays to check if this is a habit of the horse and the trainers ability to get the most from a horse after a long layoff.

Take Into Account; Any Draw advantage or disadvantage for your selection. (I advise using At The Races website for this,

Bear In Mind The Quality; Of a horse’s previous opposition. An easy win last time out may be due to poor quality opposition.

Cautious At The Beginning Of A New Season; It’s always best to give it a few weeks for horses to settle into the new season. Especially in September on the flat it pays to be extra cautious as soon as the September rain starts, even into early October. The transition from fast to soft ground plays havoc with form.

Avoid Large Fields; When backing over the winter period; this can be an excellent opportunity from a laying point of view. When March and April comes around again, horses may take a few runs to allow for their form to settle.

So maybe grab a pen and paper and start making your form reading work to your advantage.

Have a great weekend,


Betting Software Guy

Here at iRace Vision, you’ll find a recollection of the BSG as he’s known (Betting Software Guy) thoughts and opinions based on  professional experience regarding subjects and issues that are of interest to us all in the horse racing environment. Initially the blog was established as a means of bringing help and advice to people in a interesting way. BSG is passionate about horse racing, and has gone from novice punter to self taught pro, software developer and owner over the last 15 years. His main focus is to provide his members with the best quality horse racing software and racing advice, he has a tendency to make a lot of video tutorials and has developed a number of methods and free training over the years. If his head is not stuck in a book or reading horses form, or working on new ways to find more winning selections then he aint happy. You may find him at the race course from time to time or occasionally horse riding, however his days or ever hoping to become a jockey were delivered a cruel blow when he was introduced to the world of pastry at a young age. Feel free to take a look around and leave a comment, you can contact the BSG on the details below. 

5 thoughts on “FORM READING – What The Hell Is Form Reading
Gordon Coles

Hi mate,
I am having the same problem as James, black background and banner blocking the top of the blog post as well. I am using Google chrome.



hi…am having trouble reading your blog….am getting a black back ground with white letters…its near impossible to read….maybe itsjust my laptop….other websites i use appear ok….are any of your other readers getting this problem? cheers james

    Betting Software Guy

    Hi James, I have the tech guys booked in to take a look at it so it should be resolved next week, however try reading it using the firefox browser that works fine, Thanks BSG

Charles Cunningham

How refreshing to find somone that is willing to provide straight forward and sensible information regarding horse racing. Anyone who reads your information will notice a vast improvement in their horse selections. I have always been sceptical of so called “horse tipsters” you have breathed a breath of fresh air to the horse racing world, keep up the good work! 🙂

    Betting Software Guy

    Hi Charles, thanks very much for the comments they are very flattering, but I guess that is the point, hopefully by providing some sensible information more punters will be a little better informed and hopefully lose less and ultimately win more, it’s a win win for everyone. Thanks and have a great weekend 🙂

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