A Guide To Reading Form
By The UK Horse Racing Tipster
Can you guess just from looking at those four which horse has the best and the worst form?
Well obviously the one with 111-11 is the best as the 1′s denote that the horse came first in its last 5 races. A good horse indeed.
As for the worst well that depends on whether you feel finishing a race but near the back is better than being pulled up by the rider, falling at a fence, unseating the rider or refusing to run!
Reading form can be confusing for novices and if you are looking at a string of numbers, dashes and letters and wondering what they all mean then I have devised a little guide to help you figure it out.
Seasons and Years
A dash “-” between groups of letters and numbers denotes different years e.g 2011 and 2012.
A “/” separates seasons e.g flat and national hunt as some horses run in both.
The numbers denote the finishing position that the horse had in its last race. If it shows 1 then it won the race. However as you cannot tell between and 11 and two 1′s then a form rating with two 1′s means that horse didn’t come 11th it won the last two races. The numbers will only go as high as 9 and if the horse finished outside the top 9 then a 0 will be shown instead.
Then there is the mixture of letters that you will see on some horses and you should be wary of horses with lots of these as they could be very problematic as you will see. Remember you are aiming for a nice Frankel like 111-111!
NR or N/R – Non-runner:
This is usually when a horse suited to certain ground is pulled out at the last-minute due to changes in the weather. Some horses love fast hard surfaces whereas others love the mud. Boggy heavy ground will suit slower horses who can run for miles whereas sprinters on the flat will love fast, good to firm going. Some horses cannot run on both heavy and good going but they are a rarity, however if you find a horse that performs on any type of ground put it in your note-book!
F: The horse fell, usually jumping over an obstaacle on a steeplechase or hurdle course. Flat horses can also fall now and then but this isn’t often and it’s jumpers who will usually have a few F’s dotted amongst their form rating. ( on a side note did you know that on Grand National Day you will be lucky to get half of the starting runners to finish the race! )
P or PU: Pulled Up by the jockey: usually due to the jockey feeling that the horse cannot continue the race for some reason, stamina, pain etc. A famous recent case was that of Steeplechase Champion Sprinter Sacre who whilst racing on the 27th Dec 2013 at Kempton was pulled up when jockey Barry Geraghty felt that something just wasn’t right with the 2/7 favourite. He was later found to have an irregular heart beat which could have caused major issues if the horse had carried on running.
BD: Brought Down. Usually by a horse falling in front of it and causing chaos with those behind it.
CO: Carried Out, when a horse is taken out of the running by another runner.
DNF: Did not finish the race. This could be for any reason but in many results pages they use it to show that the whole meeting or race was abandoned which isn’t really in the spirit of the wording.
HR: Hit the Rails. A horse could hit the rails and get injured or just blocked from making a run.
RO: Ran Out. The horse has missed a jump or the jockey has taken the wrong turn.
R: Refused to jump or act on riders instructions causing the horse to be disqualified.
RTR: Refused to start the race. For races with stalls this might mean the horse refused to enter the stall, even with the help of a few pushing hands or without stalls it means they just refused to run when the rest of the runners left the start. A famous horse of our times is Mad Moose who seems to refuse to run more often than not. His current form is /R3042RR-6P
SU: Slipped Up, the horse has slipped up and unseated his rider.
U or UR: Unseated Rider, this usually happens after a jump even when the horse doesn’t actually fall or where the horse has hit the side rope and forced the jockey off.
Some other interesting short hand that you may see when delving into the form guide a little deeper.
B: blinkers being worn the 1st time.
b: blinkers that have been worn before.
V: visor being worn the 1st time.
v: visor that has been worn before.
H: hood being worn the 1st time.
h: hood that has been worn before.
C: eye cover being worn the 1st time.
c: eye cover that has been worn before.
E: eye hood being worn 1st time.
e: eye hood that has been worn before.
T: tongue strap being worn the 1st time.
t: tongue strap that has been worn before.
Also an important note – A Star means that the runner has already won over the same course and distance they are racing at on the day. So look out for those stars as course and distance experience is key.