Horse Racing: Using The 360 Degree Picture To Win

What To Do When Horse Racing Ratings Have Different Opinions On A Horse

Today I’m going to look at what to do when horse racing ratings have different opinions on the same horse.

If you’ve ever come up against the difficult position when one horse racing rating is telling you one thing and another is telling you something else, then you’ll know how confusing it can be.

Do you follow what the first rating is saying or the second. Which is right!

In this post we’re going to…

  1. Uncover what a horse racing rating really is
  2. Understand why different ratings give different opinions
  3. Discover the only way to know which is right

By the end of this post you’ll know exactly what to do next time you have a horse with two horse racing ratings that have different opinions.

STEP #1: Uncover What A Horse Racing Rating Really Is

Horse racing is made up of numbers that we call ratings.

It doesn’t matter what website, paper or magazine you look in, when you get to the horse racing pages you will find lots of rating.

The most commonly known ones are the OR (Official Rating), the RPR (Racing Post Rating) and the TS (Top Speed) rating. The first is provided by the BHA and the others come from the Racing Post.

Because these horse racing ratings are so well known, it is very difficult to make a profit from them.

That’s why sites such as the Race Advisor exist, to give you information that you can’t get anywhere else. Information that will enable you to make a regular profit from your horse racing betting.

This information usually comes in the form of ratings.

Of course, being the founder of the Race Advisor, I’m a little bit biased and think we have the best horse racing ratings available.

We certainly have the most comprehensive set of horse racing ratings available. If you’d like to get access to them you can do that here.

As horse racing fans, we must understand that there is no such thing as a perfect rating.

Any rating is just an estimate of a horse’s expected performance.

This is true even for ratings that are created after the results are known, such as speed ratings.

We don’t know the exact speed of the horse. We didn’t have trackers placed on it to know exactly how fast the horse ran.

Instead we calculate an estimate of how fast it ran by using the time it took to complete the race.

You may think that if we have the length of time it took the horse to finish the race then we know how fast it ran.

And you’d be right!

Unfortunately, this information is of no use to us because of the huge amount of variations in different race conditions.

We’ve got course, distance, going, race type, number of runners, weight, stall position to name just a few.

Just one course can have races on the same day run over different distances, with different ground conditions and race types.

There’s 2881 variations if we only take into account the course, distance and race type. This gets exponentially larger with the other factors.

If we only used the finish time of the horse, we would only be able to compare it’s finish time with other horses racing over similar conditions.

So… we estimate the how all the race conditions may affect the speed of the horse running.

We can then adjust their finish time based on these estimates, and get a speed figure which allows us to compare it with other horses racing under different race conditions.

But this brings us back to the same position we began… a horse racing rating is only an estimate of the performance of a horse.

STEP #2: Understand Why Different Ratings Give Different Opinions

Now we know that a horse racing rating is only an estimate, it becomes easier to understand why different ratings have different opinions on the horses ability in the race.

They’re estimating things differently!

Let me explain what I mean by that.

A horse has a front, back, two sides, an underneath, a top and everything in between.

When we look at a rating we should think of it as only estimating the horse’s performance from one of those view points.

Let’s say our horse racing rating is estimating the horse’s performance from looking at it front-on, and it reckons the horse is going to be a strong runner because it’s got a beautiful strong face and is looking perfect.

That’s all good.

But then we take another rating and it looks at the horse from behind, where it notices that not all seems quite right with one of it’s back legs. This rating tells us that this horse is not a good horse for this race. That’s because the only perspective this rating has is the back, it can’t see the front like the other rating in the same way the front rating couldn’t see the back leg.

This changes things.

However we then look at one side of the horse, and the rating checking out this side can see how the horse is walking and it’s walking perfectly, it can’t see any issues with it and the coat is glossy, so it also thinks the horse is strong.

Everything just changed agin.

And then… we check out the other side and can see a recent scar from an operation. The rating that can only see this side can see the horse is walking perfectly, but can also see the scar, so it assumes the operation went well but there are probably some unknown side effects. It decides the horse can compete but isn’t as strong as normal.

What we’ve now got is four ratings with three different opinions of how the horse is going to perform.

Okay, I know the ratings aren’t looking at the physicality of the horse, but they do only focus on one element of a horse. Speed only looks at speed, recent form only looks at the last few races, collateral form only looks against other runner it’s already raced against, full form may be too much importance on old races.

You get the picture.

This is why different horse racing ratings give us different opinions on a horses ability to perform in a race.

STEP #3: Knowing Which Horse Racing Rating Is Right

Here it is. The answer to the question…

None of them are right.

I can already hear your groan coming through the screen, and I get it. I feel that as well. But knowing this is the only way we’re going to succeed, so let me show you what we have to do.

We have to use all the ratings to build up a picture of the horse from all angles.

If we only use one we’ll only ever see the horse from a single angle and we may miss important pieces of information.

We need to act a bit like a doctor and put together a complete picture of the patient, not just the one that’s most obvious.

When we look at the front of the horse it looks strong. But then we see the back and can see something isn’t quite right with it’s back leg. This gives us concern, and we may immediately want to throw the horse out until we look at it from the first side. From the first side we can see that it’s walking strongly, so whatever the issue with the back leg doesn’t seem to be bothering it, although it may do when it starts running. Then we see the second side and the scar, this gives us more cause for concern as there are two areas on the horse that could potentially make it hard for the horse to compete. The horse we originally thought was strong we may now pass on.

We do this exact same process but with ratings.

Maybe the horse looks to be the fastest in the race from a speed perspective, but then we see this speed is only really there on Good ground and today is Good-Soft. Using another rating we see that the horse has beaten a lot of the other runners previously, which increases its chances, but it seems to fall a lot at jumps which also increases the risk of betting on it.

As you can see, by doing this we can build up a full 360 degree picture of the horse that is racing.

It is only by creating this complete picture that we can decide whether the risk of betting on the horse is worth it to us or not.

So how do you do this?

The easiest way, by far, is to right a few sentences as you look at each rating of the horse.

If you have six ratings on your race card, the write a single sentence for what each rating is showing you. When you’ve written six sentences you’ll be able to read them back and view them as a complete picture for the runner.

Make sure that your ratings contain at least one speed, form, class and connections rating, and also write down what the live market odds are telling you as your final sentence.


There is only one way to determine the risk of betting on a horse, and that’s by having the most complete picture possible.

You want to view the horse from all angles, and between five and ten ratings is more than enough to do this with, as long as you have at least one rating for each of the four major categories, and check the live market odds.

This is the only way to determine the risk you are likely to have by betting on the horse.

The best way to do this analysis is to write a single sentence for each of the ratings, and then read them together at the end as an entire picture of the horse.

I know that there will be some people reading this who think that will take too much time. But if you’re serious about making a profit from your horse racing it’s these exercises that improve your skills.

The more you do them the faster you get. The more you do them there may come a time when you don’t need to anymore because you know what the ratings mean without having to write anything down.

So the question is, do you want to succeed enough to spend a few minutes doing this exercise on a couple of horses each day?

Let me know by leaving a comment below.

Michael Wilding

Michael started the Race Advisor in 2009 to help bettors become long-term profitable. After writing hundreds of articles I started to build software that contained my personal ratings. The Race Advisor has more factors for UK horse racing than any other site, and we pride ourselves on creating tools and strategies that are unique, and allow you to make a long-term profit without the need for tipsters. You can also check out my personal blog or my personal Instagram account.


  1. Excellent theory and I agree with the in depth analysis but when I look at a race I look at every runner I prefer to do this for an all round picture takes ages though.

    1. If you can look at every runner, that’s definitely the best way as you get the most complete picture possible. I would imagine you specialise on certain race conditions?

  2. Thanks Michael. Is there any easy way to know which ratings fit into the speed, form class and connections categories.

    Also is this recommended alongside FMFR or could it be used instead?


    1. In your ratings speed weight etc Do you used top rater 2nd rater 3 rd rater and 4th rater or do you just take the top rater
      of all rating speed weight form etc then do your FMFR on most top rater or all four ratings

      Melbourne Cup is getting close What are your best 3200 metre (UK) horse in Australia A (Irish horse ) won COX PLate last
      Saturday (Sir Dragnet)

          1. I generally tend to focus on the top four rated. However, depending on the rating I may reduce or increase this. This doesn’t mean I completely ignore the other runners, I like to make sure the other runners should be eliminated before completely removing them from mind. Just because a horse isn’t in the top four of a rating doesn’t mean it hasn’t got a chance of winning. If a few different ratings all have different horses in their top four, this indicates a competitive race.

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