Understanding Racecards

Understanding Racecards

When you go to the races, many tend to buy and read the Racing Post for tips and opinions, some have their own fancies through possible infos, whereas others especially in this day and age - research their picks online.

The racecard is the more traditional bit of kit, which allows racegoers and punters to study the form, and find out more about the horses that are racing in front of them.

Whether you are a horse racing newbie or indeed an expert, the racecard can appear quite confusing with a whole host of numbers, letters and facts to get stuck into.

Fear not, as we have used a Form Guide from the Lingfield Card on Monday afternoon as an example, and broken down each component for you to understand:

racecard example

1. Jockey Colours

The silks the jockey will wear aboard the horse, which are the colours of the owner(s).

In this case, the jockey will wear a predominately red jacket, with a yellow sash on the body and slightly darker red sleeves. He or she will wear a yellow cap, featuring a red star.

2. Number

The number of the horse.

Horses are assigned numbers by the track officials based on the weight they carry, which can easily be spotted on a horse's saddle.

The number 1 would indicate the horse carrying the top weight, and the lowest number would pinpoint the horse with the lowest weight.

3. Horse Colour

The colour of the horse.

This would not necessarily play a factor in performance, but everyone likes to select a grey!

Our horse in the example is a 'Bay' horse, but below are other examples of how a horse may appear in the paddock, before heading out onto the course:

b - bay

bl - black

br - brown

ch - chestnut

gr - grey

r - rig

ro - roan

wh - white

4. Sex

The sex of a horse. Our example is a mare, meaning she is a four-year-old or higher female horse, and as a result, receives a few pounds from her male counterparts.

Below are the other terms that describes a horse's sex:

c - colt: male horse under four

f - filly: female horse under four

g - gelding: a castrated male horse

h - horse: male horse above four

m - mare: female horse above four

5. Name

The name of the horse! Surely the most obvious bit.

6. Days Since Last Race

In brackets, is the amount of day's since this horse's last racetrack appearance.

Spotting a horse with a three-figure number, may mean that they have been off the track for some time, potentially due to a break, or to do with some form of injury.

Our example has been off the track for 15 days, meaning she is fit and well, and fresh as a daisy.

7. Form

Arguably, the most important bit - the form. How has each horse performed in it's previous six outings.

The numbers correspond to the position the horse finished: so in our example, the horse finished outside the top 10 - with a 0, before finishing sixth, third, fourth, and most recently third.

- between the numbers indicate a year separation, (i.e. left of this is from a previous year)

/ between the numbers indicates a season separation (i.e. left of this is from the season before last)

Some horses may be unfortunate to have some letters in their form figures, which means they may have been involved in some collisions. Here are the ones you need to know about:

B - brought down

C - carried out

D - disqualified

F - fell

HR - hit rails

L - left at start

O - horse ran out

P - pulled up

R - refused

S - slipped up

U - unseated rider

V - void race

8. Age

The age of the horse.

At two years old, horses are known as juveniles.

At four years of age, the fillies become mares, and the colts become horses.

Some races may be exclusive to a certain age, for example, veterans contests are usually for horses aged ten or above.

Novices can be of any age, but are deemed the season where a horse is trying something for the first time: for example a Novice Hurdle.

9. Weight

The all important weight. This is the amount each horse carries on their back, including the jockey.

Horses weights are decided by their official rating, as most races are handicap contests, which give all horses of all different abilities, a chance of winning.

If a horse wins by three lengths, the handicapper may hit them with a 6lb penalty, to ensure that next time out, it is not as easy as it was before.

Our horse is carrying 11st and 2lbs.

10. Jockey

The name of the jockey onboard.

Some punters may follow reliable and consistent jockeys such as Ryan Moore and Frankie Dettori on the flat, or Ruby Walsh over jumps.

But some young amateur and conditional jockeys are worth pursuing, as they get an allowance for their inexperience.

Wayne Hutchinson, a very experience man in the saddle, is on board here.

11. Trainer

Again, the trainer is something many people like to follow.

He or she could be a man or woman in form and could be worth backing blindly, if the trainer is very bullish about their runner.

Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliott have been the men to follow at the Cheltenham Festival in recent years, but here on a Monday afternoon at Lingfield, Ben Case from Banbury sends Coded Message to post.

12. Dam's Sire

The Sire (father) of the horse's Dam (mother).

Some Dam's are unraced, so the dam's sire may give a better indication on the pedigree of the horse.

13. Dam

The dam (mother) of the horse.

14. Sire

The sire (father) of the horse.

15. Owner(s)

The name of the owner(s) of the horse.

Some horses may be owned by a sole individual, others could be part of a syndicate, whilst many of the top performers are from the most famous yard's around, such as Ballydoyle, Godolphin and Gigginstown House Stud.

16. Breeder(s)

The breeder of the horse.


  • Other things that could be involved is another number in brackets next to the horse's number. This indicates in flat racing, which stall the horse will come out of.

  • Some horses wear selective headgear, which you can read more about by clicking HERE. In short form, horses can be applied the following:

h - hood

b - blinkers

cp - cheekpieces

t - tongue-tie

v - visor

e - eye hood

e/c - eyecover

e/s - eyeshield

  • Although missing on this card, many booklets feature extra letters near the form figures. This can go further in depth to a horse's history:

BF - beaten favourite last time out

C - previous course winner

CD - previous course and distance winner

D - previous distance winner