How to Read a Race Card
Race cards are one of the most iconic, and necessary, features of both horse racing and greyhound racing. It used to be the first thing that you picked up on the morning of a race or if you were going to view the race live.
It’s more likely that you will be looking at the race card online these days, but the information that’s on the card is just as important, and just as vast; if you are new to the sport then they can look quite intimidating. Some cards look more like a foreign language than others, as they aren’t all written in quite the same way.
The idea of the race is to give you a quick overview of a number of factors that will help you form a better opinion on who might win the race. It’s not the be all and end all, but it’s a valuable betting tool that is often overlooked.
You don’t have to use the race card; you can find all the information you need from various different websites these days, but we still believe the card has a significant role to play in racing. In fact, we believe that they can save you an awful lot of time and money, and a lot of online cards are interactive, meaning you can expand them to see even more info.
Let’s cover a horse racing card first before moving on to the greyhounds.
Horse Racing Card
Here we have a typical example from the Racing Post of a race that is coming up at Newmarket. As you can see, it includes a lot of information. As we stated previously, race cards might change depending on who is offering them, but the Racing Post is one of the biggest resources in the industry so it’s rare that you will find a card with more info on it.
By breaking down this race card it should allow you to see pretty much everything you could expect to see elsewhere and more. We will work through each section slowly so you don’t get too confused. Hopefully this will be the best way to walk you through – here we go:
Here with have the overview of the card and with it includes information such as the time of the race and the name of the race. This gives punters a brief overview of what’s going on.
- 4:10 – Time the race begins.
- Bet365 Earl of Sefton Stakes – Name of the race and sponsor. In this case, bet365 is sponsoring the Earl of Sefton Stakes, which is the name of the race.
- (Group 3) – This indicates which group the race is in. Groups will range in grade, with lower numbers being higher rated and higher numbers being lower rated. Group 1 is the highest you can get.
- (Class 1) – The class of the race on the day.
- (4yo+) – This is the minimum age for a horse to enter the race. In this instance it’s open to horses who are aged 4 and older, with no upper age limit.
- Winner £34,026 – This is the prize for the trainer whose horse finishes first.
- 10 runners – This indicated the number of runners that are taking part in the race.
- 1m 1f – This is the distance of the race. It’s signified in miles (m) and furlongs (f). Some races will also include yards (yds).
- Good to Firm – This represents the condition of the ground that they will be racing on. It can range from heavy, meaning very wet, to firm, meaning very dry. Generally, the firmer the track the faster it will run.
- RTV – Name of broadcaster for TV purposes, in this case RTV which is Racing TV.
- (Stalls Far Side) – For flat racing, it signifies how the horses will start (i.e. from stalls or moving start) and where they are located on the track.
The second section is more of an extension of opening section of the card and goes into a little more detail, especially about who can enter and the prize money that is on offer.
- Race conditions – This states the amount of money that is in the pot overall. In this case it’s £60,000 which will be split accordingly.
- For – Again, this states the horses that are eligible in terms of age.
- Weights – This is the first time we see the minimum weight that the horse will need to carry. So, here it’s 9st for colts and geldings, and 8st 11lb for fillies. If the jockey riding doesn’t cover this weight, then more weight will be added.
- Penalties – This highlights any penalties that the horses need to carry in terms of their success in previous races. Here, any horse that has won a Group 3 race after August 31st will carry an additional 3lb in weight. A Group 2 winner will carry 5lb, and a Group 1 winner an additional 7lb.
- Entries – This is the number of horses that are entering the race and the entrance fee paid by each.
- Penalty Value – Here we have the breakdown of prizes for each position. This is what the trainers will win if their horse finishes 1st – 6th.
That concludes the race overview section at the top. This is the most user friendly part of the card as you can work a lot of it out from the information that comes after it. As we delve into the card itself, the marking tends to become a little more obscure.
The first column is split into three parts. Two at the top and then one at the bottom:
- – This is the number the horse will wear.
- Draw – This is the stall that they are drawn in. Note that this is only for flat racing as national hunt and hurdles don’t use stalls.
- Form – The bottom row of numbers is the form. The numbers represent the finishing position in its previous races with the most recent race on the right. There are a few symbols to note here:
- 0 = unplaced or outside of the top 9 horses for that race
- – = all races before the dash took place the season prior
- / = gap of two seasons or more since that race
- F = fell
- U = unseated rider
- B = Brought down
- R = Refused to jump or start
- P = horse pulled up by the jockey and failed to finish
So horse number 1, Mustashry, hasn’t raced yet this season, and in the last 5 races of the season prior: didn’t place, came 1st, 1st, 2nd, 1st.
The second part of the card includes information on the horse itself and a bit more detail on how it has performed in previous races, or info that might be relevant to the outcome of this race.
- Colours – The colours that you see are known as silks, and these are what the jockey will be wearing for that race.
- Mustashry – This is the name of the horse.
- Below that are a list of letters. These relate to previous runs of the horse.
- C – Horse previously won on this course.
- D – Horse previously won over the same distance as this race.
- CD – Horse previously won on this course at same distance.
- BF – Last run was beaten by the favourite for that race.
- 166 – This number represents how many days it’s been since the horse last run. Note that sometimes these numbers will be in brackets, meaning that their last race was over a different discipline. For example, if a flat race, the horse might have previously run over fences and this number would be in brackets instead.
- 2 tips – This isn’t part of all racecard’s, but for the Racing Post it signifies that the horse has been tipped twice to win by their experts.
Moving along the race card to the right and things become a little more straight forward:
- Age – Age of the horse.
- WGT – Weight the horse will be carrying. This includes jockey weight and penalties.
- OR – Official Rating. This is based on how successful the horse has been. The higher the rating the more weight they will be carrying.
- Jockey – Name of the jockey.
- Trainer – Name of the trainer.
- Allowance RTF% – Run To Form. This is a percentage based on how often the trainer’s horses run to form. The higher the percentage the more consistent the horse is.
- TS – Top Speed rating is a rating based on the allowance for previous race conditions and the weight carried.
- RPR – Racing Post Rating is specific to this publication. These may or may not be included with other race cards using a different abbreviation.
- Odds – The current price for that horse.
The bottom section of the card looks at the betting for the race. This will give you an idea of the original prices, whereas if you are looking online, the green odds from the main race card will likely give you live odds. For example, above you see First Contact was originally priced at 5/1 but has since drifted to 11/2.
Finally, the bottom ‘verdict’ section is a quick overview of who might run well based on the information and form at hand. This is the opinion of someone from the Racing Post, so it may not be available for race cards elsewhere.
Before we finish on horse racing, there are couple more symbol used on the card, which can often be found near the jockey name or weight.
- B = blinkers
- V = visor
- E/s = Eyeshield
- c/c = eye cover
- h = hood
- t = tongue strap
- p = cheek pieces
So that is the information that you can get from a horse race card.
As you can see, whilst it may look like gibberish at first glance, each symbol or number has its place, and as you become more accustomed to looking at them you will read them more quickly and instinctively.
Greyhound Racing Card
In the same way as horse racing, greyhound race cards can look quite intimidating, but they include a lot of information that is imperative if you want to make informed bets based on anything more than a funny name.
Just like we’ve done with horse racing above, let’s break down what it all means. The top section isn’t difficult:
- Number – The trap number of the dog racing.
- Colour – The colour silks the dog will be wearing.
- Point Frozen – The name of the dog.
So, Point Frozen will be running from trap number 1 and wearing red silks. Easy.
In the section below you’re going to see two lines of text before we start getting onto the date and track section below that.
- bk – Colour of the dog, black in this case.
- d – Sex of the dog, d for dog and b for bitch.
- Taylors Sky–Point Hondo – The sire and dam of the dog. This is an indication of their pedigree.
- Jan15 – The month and year the dog was born.
- BRT – Best Run Time. This is the fastest time it has run that season over the same distance.
- T3 – Grade of the dog.
- (6Mar19) – The date the aforementioned race was run.
Now let’s work across the rest of the card from left to right. Here is the card again to make it easy to cross reference:
- Date – The date of the dogs’ last race.
- Track – Track it was run on.
- Dis – Distance of the race in metres.
- Trp – Trap it started from.
- Split – The time it took the dog to cross the finish line first time around. This gives a good idea as to how well they start.
- Bends – The dog’s position through each of the bends throughout the race.
- Fin – Finishing position.
- By – If the dog won, this is the distance it won by; if it lost, it’s the distance it finished behind the winner.
- Win/Sec – Name of the dog that won and the dog that finished second
- Remarks – In this section a wide range of abbreviations can be included for how the dog has run in previous races. These include:
- Awk – Awkward
- Bmp – Bumped
- Clr – Clear run
- Crd – Crowded run
- Ld – Lead from the start
- S – Slow
- Styd – Stayed on well to the finish
- WnTm – Winning time of that race.
- Gng – The going, so basically the condition of the ground. ‘N’ states normal, ‘+’ means fast and ‘-‘ means slow. The higher the numbers the higher the degrees.
- Wght – Weight of the dog.
- Sp – Starting Price.
- Grade – Standard of the race. Lower number means higher standard.
- CalTm – Total time taken to run race.
And there you have the workings of a greyhound race card. As you can see, like horse racing, it includes a lot of information in a very economical way.
Race cards for both sports are worth getting to grips with if you to intend to bet even semi-regularly, as learning how they work can prove to be profitable when punters put that knowledge and information to good use.