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Tips for picking a winning horse

Horse betting guide part 5

Horse betting guide part 1: How to bet on horses
Horse betting guide part 2: A guide to horse betting terminology
Horse betting guide part 3: A guide to the different types of full cover bets
Horse betting guide part 4: What is totepool betting?

Once you are abreast of all the various betting platforms and bet types available out there for horse betting, you should be ready to take on the bookmakers. However, making your choices should involve more than sticking a pin in the newspaper.

Writing as an expert, I can guarantee you that betting successfully on horse racing is not something that you can do overnight.  It takes years to become profitable from scratch and in fact you never stop learning in what is a complex and challenging sport to bet on.

As an amateur however, there are a myriad of stats available to help you along and some pretty reputable free tips available on various platforms too.  Here we look at some of the best help available and where to get it.


Containing all the information you need; the horses, their recent form, who trains them, their ratings and a lot more besides are available on various websites.  The safest thing to do is stick with the cards offered on the various platforms of the trade paper, The Racing Post.

The RP’s website and app are very comprehensive and offer all of the information you need, especially as someone who already knows how to read the card and the form.

On this, Racing Post will offer their own in-house ratings which can be fairly accurate and may help you pick a horse you like.  The Racing Post is still printed in its traditional paper form every day and is made available on racecourses too.

Jockey/trainer statistics

Once again, the Racing Post is the place to go.  Stats are available on each jockey, i.e. how many winners he has ridden by horse age and by race type with the same information offered on trainers.

As you may not be aware of the various personalities in racing and how good their reputations are, the stats will help you along when it comes to rating riders and trainer’s relative ability.

The Racing Post, as well as giving basic win statistics, shows punters what they call ‘signposts’.  These might include when a trainer has sent a horse a long way, say 300 miles, for its run with the inference being that the horse must have a great chance if the trainer is willing to pay for it to travel such a long way to run.

The market

Although it’s not a sure fire way of getting some sort of ‘inside information’, watching the betting markets can be very informative for punters.  Naturally when a horse is well fancied and is backed significantly, bookmakers will shorten the odds of said horse in order to keep their liabilities low.  If their is very little support for a horse, its odds will lengthen.

The live racing TV channels will report market movers, so will At The Races and Racing UK;  ITV will also do this when it’s on terrestrially including every Saturday.  On a day-to-day basis, you can check the markets yourself by going to, a vital resource these days.

The market on each and every race can be easy to track on this platform, with horses not too well fancied (drifters) showing in red and those well backed (steamers) in blue.

Watching the market is most useful for betting on races in which the runners do not have a lot of racecourse form, i.e. maiden races.  Maiden races are for horses which as yet haven’t won a race and often feature a number of runners making their racecourse debut.

On occasion, a runner from a respected stable will be heavily backed on its debut. This usually means that they know the horse is of a good standard and has a very strong chance of winning.

Joining in on such a gamble can sometimes prove profitable.  Some stables are notorious for  backing their own horses when they have a big chance, including Brian Ellison, Stuart Williams and Karl Burke to name just three.


Given that age, breeding, form, ground, weather, weight, trainer form, jockey form, the pace of a race, the draw and many, many other factors will determine the result of a horse race it can often pay to let someone else do the hard work for you when it comes to picking out your bets.

Despite the fact that some very reputable tipsters have been justified in charging for their services, it will in most cases pay to keep your money in your pocket and go instead for free tips.

Those presenting on racing TV channels (ATR, RUK and ITV) will each give their views on the days racing and will often discuss the chances of various runners right up to post time.

You can say the same of William Hill radio, which you can access online or via the Racing Post app. If offers constant insight and commentary on every race in the UK and Ireland.

One again the Racing Post in its various guises offers free tips on a daily basis, as does the At The Races website.  The online platforms of Betfair and Sporting Life also offer free daily racing tips from trusted sources and, while these tips will not make anyone rich, they may at least keep you on a straighter course as an amateur and stop you losing too much money.

Social media tips

A more recent phenomenon is the rise of free tips given out over social media.  Because of their ease of use, platforms such as Facebook and Twitter have become a haven for ‘wannabe’ tipsters.

These tipsters are not regulated, don’t have to ‘proof’ their selections to the Racing Post and can advertise whatever success, or perceived success, they like.

If you happen to find a tipster on a given platform you grow to trust, by all means stick with them.  In following tipsters, the main thing punters get wrong is expecting miracles and then changing too often after a few losers.

If a given tipster has a good record, it will pay to stick with them as when you change, you may be missing your original tipsters winners.  When you go back to them, you may be doing so during a quiet spell for them and therefore always losing.