January 2020

How to Pick a Winner in Seconds

If you like to have a flutter, but don’t have the time or inclination to pore through the form book, why not try this ‘quick and dirty’ method for picking winners, which will work with the horse racing page of any daily newspaper.


Only consider the first three horses in the betting. If you have access to an accurate betting forecast, such as that in the Racing Post or, better still, access to real bookmakers’ prices, all well and good. If not, you’ll have to rely on the betting forecast in your daily newspaper which, while less accurate, will work just as well for the purposes of making selections.


Horse racing is notoriously unpredictable, so always allow one point, or ‘evens’, for the unexpected. In other words, don’t bet odds-on; if you do, and the horse wins, you’ll probably find yourself more relieved at not losing your money than overjoyed at winning.

Look at the last two form figures or letters for each horse and add them up. Count letters – such as F, P, S, and U, all of which indicate the horse failed to complete the course – as 10 and if any of the figures is a 0 count that as 10, too. So, a horse that finished first on its last two starts would have an initial rating of 1 + 1 = 2, a horse that finished first and second would have an initial rating of 1 + 2 = 3, and so on; a horse that finished unplaced and/or failed to complete the course on its last two starts would have an initial rating of 10 + 10 = 20 but, apart from exceptional circumstances, probably wouldn’t feature in the first three in the betting in any case.

The letters C, D or CD after the name of the horse indicate a course winner, distance winner or course and distance winner, which may have a better chance of winning. Subtract 1 for a C, 1 for a D and 2 for CD, where appropriate, from your initial ratings to produce final ratings. The horse with the lowest rating is your selection or, if two or more horses share the same rating, the horse with the highest racecard number is your selection.