The Circular Form Reading Method

I was recently explaining to someone about form reading. They were struggling with the enormity of what this can potentially entail. And they’re not alone with this struggle. It’s something that causes a lot of people difficulty when they are form reading. The big question is always…

Where do I begin?

Unfortunately the questions don’t end there because once you’ve started you get more and more questions. What are the horses preferences? What kind of horses has it raced against before? How does that compare to today? etc…

I was struggling to find a way to explain it, and then I came up with the Circular Form Reading Method. You know I always like to share things with you and so I’ve written the details of this method.

The concept is based on circles of importance.

Circular Form Reading Outline

What you can see above is how this concept works. The most important factors go into the center circle. This is what we MUST do to analyse a race and makes up the majority of the importance of our form reading.

The second and third tiers are the same size and made up of factors that are relevant to the first tier but slightly removed. These are less important in our analysis.

Finally we have the fourth tier. This is all the information that may be of use but is very hard to determine what is going to help us and what is going to hinder us. This is the least important layer but, contains the large amount of data.

When you first start form reading you start out in the center of the circle with the most important factors. You are not interested in anything else except these factors. We know there is a lot of other information out there but at the moment it is not important. We want to learn to analyse a race with just these factors alone.

And yes it is possible because these factors make up the majority of the race analysis. Until we are successfully form reading in this center circle then we DO NOT want to move to the further tiers. The tiers further out are going to allow us improve our form reading by adding extra information in. But, if we start to use them too early then they are going to overload us and provide no value. Quite the opposite, they will hinder our progression.

Circular Form Reading Inner FactorsThe factors that we want to concentrate on are the horses preference on ground, distance and race type. Rather than class I suggest that you should also look at how competitive a horse is. Class is an ephemeral word and it is very hard to define. If we are looking for a how competitive a horse is then we have something specific that we are looking for.

Whenever you read form you should be taking notes, and lots of them. Everything you think about a horse you should be writing down. It is impossible to remember all the information in your head. The ONLY WAY to progress is to write everything down for each horse and then come back at the end to do an appraisal of the race.

How you measure these different factors is not actually important. There are lots of ways and each of them are valid. It is down to preference and interpretation. You could use a rating, form over the condition or trainer comments. The important thing is that you do each of them using whatever technique suits you best. I also suggest you start on races with fewer runners as they will take less time.

When you’ve finished going through the most important factors for each runner, you can go back and compare your notes on each of them. The question that you should be asking is:

Which runner is strongest in this factor?

Do this for each of the factors and you will have the shape of your analysis clearly laid down on paper in front of you. It may be that all the horses are fairly well matched, in which case you should be asking whether this is a race that you want to bet on. Otherwise you will find a few are looking to be significantly stronger in most areas than the others.

Now when you ask yourself who could win the race, you have the answer in black and white!

We will look at the other tiers in future articles.

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. I think class is one of the most important factors, for example if a horse has been winning class 4 races can it win a class 5 race …..yes………. but can it win a class 3 race …………..maybe?????

    1. This can be changed around, it is just my thoughts on how I would do it but you can put your own factors in the different circles.

  2. Hi Michael.

    I’d recommend anybody reading this also take a look at the thread ” Racing Post Secrets ” which complements this approach nicely. I’m still having success with that method, fleshed out with what James Quinn calls ” situational factors ” , i.e. trainer form, jockey’s s/r at track, etc. That would equate to the second, third and fourth tiers here.

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