Picking the winner in a horse race isn’t the easiest of tasks, but it can be done. There are many factors that need to be taken into consideration when working out your selections. Yes, some homework is required, but all that work can pay off when your horse ends up in the winner’s enclosure. Let’s look at what is needed to help you choose the winner.

Current form and the class system

This is vitally important, but it’s not as simple as choosing a horse that has won its last race to win again next time, although Red Rum won the Grand National in successive years. Being in winning form is helpful, of course, but you need to look at details of that success.

What class was that previous win achieved in?  British horse racing is split into Classes 1-6, then into Listed races and the very best races, Groups 1,2 and 3. If your selection won in class 4 last time out but is in class 3 this time, that means it will be up against higher-rated horses. Can it handle the increased level of opposition is a key question you have to decide on. Improving horses are the ones to look at in this situation.

Red Rum not only saved many a gambler’s shirt – the horse also basically saved the national…

Losers can win

If a horse has failed to win its recent races, you might not be too keen on backing it. However, the class system can again come into play. A horse with disappointing form can be dropped in class in the hope that will produce a win. If that is the case, look at the form book and see how it has performed at lower levels in the past. The drop in class might just be what is needed to get a win.


If you are backing a horse in a handicap, then the weight a horse carries is the key consideration. A horse that has been successful will find the weight it has to carry increase. Will that higher weight prevents another win or has the horse improved so much that it can defy the penalty?

Alternatively, a horse that has been struggling for form will see the weight it carries reduced. Will this result in an improved performance next time out? With both situations, refer back to the form book and see what weights it has performed well in.

Grounds for concern or hope?

Horses tend to prefer a certain kind of ground to run on. Some might do best on soft ground; others may hate running on it. Look at previous performances to see what results they have achieved in differing conditions.


This is another major factor to consider. Horses may perform better at certain distances. If it’s a six-furlong race, backing a horse that usually runs over five furlongs or a mile might not be a good idea. Again, look at the form book for valuable information.  A horse that has been running over six furlongs and has been finishing strongly might just win if moved up to seven furlongs.

Course specialists

Some horses love to run on certain tracks. The legendary Desert Orchid won seven times at Kempton so was always worth backing there. If your selection has won on the course it’s running on and won at the distance of the race; then it’s worth having a bet on it.


Having a top jockey in the saddle is a bonus. A horse may be used to a certain jockey riding it, so if a different one is onboard (even a better one), it might make a difference – If it’s an amateur jockey’s race, look at how experienced the jockey is. It’s just another factor you must consider when devising a winning racing strategy.

How long since its last race?

A horse that has been off the track for a long time isn’t easy to back, however good it is. Particularly over the jumps, it may be that a horse may need the race and isn’t expected to win. However, some horses run well when fresh, so again do your homework and look at their previous races. Backing a horse that has raced recently is awkward too. Has it gotten over the last race? Look to see if the horse has a record of running well when making quick reappearances.