Only Bet On Proven Horses

Betting is all about assessing risk. When we bet on a horse to win we are looking at the chance it has of winning compared to the odds available and determining whether the risk is worthwhile. By placing the bet we have decided that the risk is acceptable to us.

So far so good. But…

Are you taking risk where you don’t need to?

We want to make sure that when we place a bet we have as much as possible on our side.

One of the best ways to do this is to see whether a horse has achieved what we want it to achieve today, in the past.

If it hasn’t then why would expect it to achieve it in todays race?

We shouldn’t.

Let’s look at this broken down step-by-step.

In its simplest form if the ground is soft then we want the horse to perform well on soft ground. So we go into the form and look at previous races to discover that this runner has never run a good race on soft ground.

It has instantly become a significantly worse bet than before we knew that.

Of course, we’re going to miss out on the odd winner but… we’re going to ultimately be saving ourselves a lot of money by not betting on a horse to do something that it’s never done before.

If we take some of the main preferences of a horses performance:

  • Going Preference
  • Distance Preference
  • Class Ability
  • Weight

Of course we can delve into these as much as we want but by looking to see if the horse has performed well under these conditions before can make a big difference to the speed of our form reading.

Open up whichever website you use to analyse form and make a note of the going, distance, class and horses weight in todays race. We are simply going to make a note of whether a horse has performed well under similar conditions before by giving them two points if they won and one point if they were competitive.

Competitive is going to be determined as being within two lengths of the winner on flat races and 3 lengths over the jumps.

If we take the race below as an example:

Only Bet On Proven Horses 1

For each of our four preferences we have:

  • Going – Good To Soft
  • Distance – 2m 1f
  • Class – 2

Starting with the first horse, Drumshambo, we open up their form to see…

Only Bet On Proven Horses 2


Starting with the going we can see that this horse won a race on Good To Soft going last time out, so that’s two points.

Moving on to Distance, the last race was 17 furlongs (which is 2 miles 1 furlong) and as we already know the horse was a winner. That’s another two points.

Looking at the class, this race is a class 2 and we want the horse to have competed at this level or better in the bast and, once again, the last race that it won was a class one race. So the runner gets another two points.

Finally we move onto the weight. Today the runner is carrying 11 stone 12 pounds and in December last year this runner won three races carrying the same weight for another two points.

We can now see that this horse has performed very well under very similar conditions in the past and so is likely to be a very strong contender.

Now you repeat this process for every runner in the race to see what his competition is going to be like!

Is it possible to dig further into form reading? Of course.

Is it possible to make this more complicated and add other factors? Of course.

Will this improve your betting and speed of form reading almost instantly? Absolutely.

I’m not saying that this is the only way to read form, and I’m not saying it’s the most advanced method. But if you remember the rule:

“Only bet on a horse if they have already achieved in the past what you want them to achieve today”

And then you apply the technique shown in this post, you will find that you are shortlisting horses that have a very strong chance of winning a race in a very short period of time.


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. The racecards give you a handle on 3 out of 4 of your categories. They are great for compiling a shortlist of horse of interest for a more detailed analysis.

  2. Good advice. Regarding weight, however, would it not be better to look at the horse’s official rating rather than actual weight carried? An improving horse is bound to go up in weight if staying in the same grade and so fail to receive weight points. If it moves up in grade it will fail to receive class points but may well receive weight points. What are your thoughts about this?

    1. No, as my dad taught me, “big weight slows good horses, but a low weight will not make a poor horse run faster” Always necessary to ensure a horse can carry the weight by having done so in the past.

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