How to Read a Racecard

If you have a horse racing event right around the corner it might not be a bad idea to invest some time ahead of the game in learning how to read a racecard

Not only will it make the sport more interesting, but you can also impress any novices around you.

What Is A Racecard Bet?

A racecard or a racecard bet serves the same purpose as a theatre program or a playbill. Basically, it is a guide that helps the visitors gain knowledge about what to expect with the event, allowing them to enjoy it, and almost everything is in there that you’d need to know.

How to Read a Racecard?

If you have never experienced horse racing before, you will be surprised to see how much statistics and information goes into the sport. Hence, it can become quite overwhelming for an audience member looking to partake in betting.

Hence if you are interested in horse racecards and how to read them so that you can have the satisfaction of placing your bets confidently, here are the imminent factors to start your learning before you head to the event:

Cloth and Stall Number

One of the first things you’ll notice on a racecard is that it has numbers on it besides each horse’s name. The bold number is the saddle cloth number that the horse will wear on its side so that the audience can see it from the crowd. Other numbers on the racecard are stall numbers that show from which stall the horse will start the race.


There is a column on the racecard under the title “silk.” This is an indicator of the silk patterns or colors the horse’s jockey will be wearing. It is another way to distinguish among the several competing horses

Form of the Horse

A technique first seen on the UK horse racing card is the best way to describe a horse’s form. For instance, if you see the number “31121” under a horse’s cloth and stall number, it represents the positions that the horse has earned in the last five races with winning in the most recent one.

Jockeys and Trainers

The horse racecards also have the trainer and the jockey’s names on them. This information is vital in case a particular trainer or jockey has been known to handle the horses well and take them up for an ultimate win.

Age and Weight

Horse racecards have physical information like the age and weight of the horse down too. This helps you understand better according to the type of race, which horse has more chances to perform better. For instance, an average weighted younger horse will perform well on a shorter sprint course than an older aver weighed horse who would outdo in long distances.


Courses might not matter much for the pros of horse race betting, but it still has significance if it is duly mentioned. For instance, certain courses suit horses well due to their configuration, which helps determine if a certain horse will perform well on the course laid before you.

Types of Races

Naturally, if you are at an event for a horse race, it is a guiding factor to know what type of race you are actually attending. So here are the most common types that are majorly attended by audience members and regarded for betting:

  • Flat Racing – a short, straight sprint
  • Jumps Racing – leaping over obstacles, hurdles
  • Handicap Racing – a level playing field


Knowing how to read a racecard is not as challenging once you put your head to it. Naturally, people enjoy horse racing and betting. Hence, without much thought, a great way to develop your interest and understanding of it all is to at least visit an event once.


What do the letters mean in horse racing form?

Apart from numbers, you may also find letters on the racecards. They tend to appear in form figures, particularly in National Hunt races. Although there are others too, the following are the three that you’ll see most commonly, denoting three things:

  • F = Fell
  • U = Unseated Rider
  • P = Pulled Up

How are horses numbered in a race?

When numbering horses, the digits 1-9 are given according to the position at which the horse finished the race, as in their position or rank. The number 0 is given when the horse finishes a race but doesn’t make it in the top 9.

What do C and D mean in horse racing?

If you see the letters C and D or CD on your racecards, here is what the lettering is indicative of:

  • C = Course
  • D = Distance
  • CD = Course & Distance

What does BM stand for in horse racing?

When learning how to read a racecard, you’ll see lettering BM appear in particular cards and not every card you pick. This is indicative of Benchmark Races, which is a Handicap race based on ratings.

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